Advice on mixed feeding your baby with useful information on why you may wish to feed your baby both from the breast and a bottle and what to do if your baby will not take a bottle.
Whether you plan to return to work fairly quickly, wish the father to be more involved or just prefer the convenience of you baby being able to breastfeed and take a bottle, mixed breast and bottle feeding may be the preferred choice for you.
You can choose to continue giving your baby exclusively breast milk or introduce formula milk. If you want to mix breast and bottle, but do not want to use formula milk, you can express some of your own milk, which can then be given to your baby in a bottle by the father, another member of the family or a childminder. In this way you will still ensure that your baby is only receiving breast milk. Or you may decide to feed your baby yourself when you are there, and get his or her carer to give him formula when you are away.
General advice is to not offer a breastfed baby a bottle before four weeks of age. This may lead to ?nipple confusion?, which can quickly lead to the end of breastfeeding. During the first three to four weeks your baby will be learning and perfecting breastfeeding skills. Whilst introducing the bottle at one or two weeks of age may insure that baby accepts the bottle later, you are taking a risk. Some babies easily go back and forth between breast and bottle, but many others do not. Getting a baby to accept a bottle at age two or three months may take some patience, but most babies will catch on after a few tries.
Feeding from a bottle uses a different technique to feeding from the breast, and you may find that your baby takes a little time to get used to it. In fact, some babies seem to be determined that they will never get used to it, and moving to mixed feeding can become a distressing and worrying event.
If your baby does not take to a bottle you could try the following:
- Get someone else to offer the bottle
- Offer it at a time when your baby is neither starving hungry nor completely full
- Feed your baby somewhere apart from where you usually sit, so that he does not assume that he will be getting a breastfeed
- Offer the bottle in the dark, so he can't see it
- Warm the teat before offering it to him
- Try different brands of teat
- If he is old enough, (five or six months) use a spouted beaker rather than a bottle
- If he is on solids, add breast milk or formula to his food so that he gets the goodness via another route
Do not feel that the mother is the only one who can introduce a bottle; try asking the baby?s father or a relative to try. If you know you want your baby to take a bottle when you go back to work, introduce him to a bottle after three or four weeks. Do not offer the bottle too often, just once or twice a week, or your baby may come to prefer it to the breast.
If you have been fully breastfeeding, embarking on a new routine of mixed feeding with formula means you will need to reduce the amount of milk that you are making, as your baby will get some of his milk through a different route. The breastfeeding system of supply and demand will do this automatically in response to your baby suckling less at the breast. However, your body will benefit from a gradual rather than a sudden reduction, so make sure that you drop only one feed every few days. Your body will then have received and acted upon the message to produce less milk before you drop another feed. In this way, you should avoid becoming painfully engorged.