A Better Way to Give a Bottle: Paced Feeding
While we’re big fans of breastfeeding (obvi), bottle feeding can be a necessary part of a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Bottles are a convenient way to feed your baby if you need to be apart from your little one but still want them to reap the benefits of breastmilk.
But it’s easy to overfeed your baby with a bottle, which can lead to colic-like symptoms in the short term and obesity later in life. So the WAY you bottle feed matters, and this is where pace feeding comes in.
Why practice paced feeding?
Pace feeding baby lets them take the lead with bottle feeding. This is a good thing for many reasons.
- Baby gets as much milk as they need—not more, not less—and you can better learn to spot when they are hungry or full.
- It makes switching between breast and bottle easier—a big worry for many mamas.
- It can reduce air intake, a potential cause of stomach upset, gassiness, fussiness, and other symptoms related to colic.
- Your partner and other caregivers can bond with your little one while feeding.
- It can improve baby’s hand-eye coordination and eye development.
Remember that bottle feeding should be introduced after you both get the hang of breastfeeding. It typically takes four to six weeks to establish a good nursing relationship and strong milk supply.
How does it work?
Paced Responsive Feeding is simpler than you may think. Here are the basic steps.
- 1. Hold your baby semi-upright—skin-to-skin contact is a plus!
- 2. Hold the bottle flat, almost horizontal to the floor. You know it’s in the right position when the tip of the nipple just fills with milk. (Milk flows more easily from a bottle nipple than from mama’s breast. You want baby to do most of the work, not gravity.)
- 3. Place the bottle nipple below baby’s nose. You can also use it to stroke their cheeks and lips. This will invite him or her to reach for the nipple, as they would with breastfeeding.
- 4. Once they take the bottle, angle the nipple upward against the roof of the mouth.
- 5. Watch your baby for cues while feeding; don’t rely on the clock or the amount of milk consumed. If you notice gulping or gasping, he may be drinking the milk too fast. Tilt the bottle down to slow the flow. Likewise, if he pauses or turns away, he may be full. Take a break and try again later if needed.
- 6. Pause every so often to interact with your baby. Make eye contact and talk to them, or use this time to burp. This is all part of the bonding experience!
- 7. Switch sides halfway through the feed or with every other feeding—again, like you would with breastfeeding. This will help with baby’s hand-eye coordination.
Tips for paced feeding
For pace feeding success, keep these tips in mind.
For the first bottle, start with 1 ounce (30 ml) so you don’t lose any of your precious pumped breastmilk. You can always add more if your baby finishes the bottle and still appears hungry. Gradually increase the volume in half-ounce increments as he or she becomes comfortable with taking a bottle.
Some babies will drink from a bottle right away, while others need more time to adjust. So stay calm and give your baby time to learn this new skill. You may have more luck when they are happy and relaxed, or at least not frantically hungry.
Once you introduce the bottle, make it a habit. Three or four bottles a week is usually enough to keep it familiar for your little one. It doesn’t even need to be for a full feeding; an ounce at a time is fine. If you go a week or more between bottles, they may “forget” this new skill, putting you back at square one.
The bottle nipple matters. Select a flexible nipple with a wide base that enables baby to use the same feeding motion used at the breast. The Lansinoh NaturalWave® Nipple is perfect for easing transitions from breast to bottle and back and is clinically proven to reduce nipple confusion.
Don’t force it
Healthy babies will eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full—and it’s up to us grown-ups to learn their body language. Don’t force your infant to eat or finish a bottle if they don’t want it. Bottle feeding should be a positive experience for both of you.
Remind caregivers to never prop a bottle up to feed baby, always hold it to maintain proper positioning. Propping a bottle can cause the baby to choke or aspirate (breathe in) milk. Treat bottle feeding as a social activity, one that you share with baby.
With pace feeding, breastfeeding and bottle feeding can each have a place in your family’s routine—and baby will get all that they need.
All content found on the Lansinoh.com website, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.