Alternative Feeding Methods
There are a number of options for feeding baby when you are unable to directly breastfeed, a bottle is only one of them. If your baby is older than 4-6 months old, consider going straight to a cup. If your baby is less than 3-4 weeks old, it is best to avoid the use of a bottle for a couple of reasons:
- regular use of a bottle instead of breastfeeding can interfere with mum’s efforts to establish a good milk supply
- bottle use also increases baby’s risk of nipple confusion or flow preference
For more information: Tools for Feeding - Alternative Feeding Methods - KellyMom
- Finger and Cup Feeding : Finger feeding is a technique the main purpose of which is to prepare the baby to take the breast when the baby is reluctant or refuses to latch on - Dr Jack Newman
- Lactation Aid : A lactation aid is a device that allows a breastfeeding mother to supplement her baby with expressed breastmilk, formula, glucose water with added colostrum or plain glucose water without using a bottle - Dr Jack Newman
If you choose to bottle feed, following is some information to help make the experience a good one for the baby and also to ensure that breastfeeding is fully supported even when a breastmilk substitute is used.
Paced Bottle Feeding
By Cuidiú BFC Cita Crefeld.
Paced Bottle Feeding can help minimise the preference for the fast flow of a bottle and the big milk reward for little effort on the babies part. It can help prevent stretching of the breastfed baby’s tummy by over feeding at the bottle. We are often encouraged to bottle feed in a way that can result in bottle fed babies being unable to control the flow of the mil, so they gulp fast to get to the point where they can take a proper breath. This can be mistaken for baby ‘loving’ the bottle and may cause us to believe we were not 'satisfying' our babies. Paced Bottle Feeding may help induce a breastfed baby to take a bottle.
- Teats that tend to work best for breastfed babies have a gradual transition from tip to base. What works well for one baby might not for another. Observe baby sucking on a bottle nipple, the latch and swallow should look similar to that on the breast.
- Put your baby in an upright breastfeeding position. Avoid letting baby drink from a bottle while lying down. This increases the risk of ear infections and bottle caries.
- Bring the bottle to your baby’s lips and let them control when they take it in. Or put the teat on your baby’s cheek closest to your breast (or chest of the person feeding baby). Your baby may be stimulated to turn to take the teat into her/his mouth as she/he would while at the breast. This can help with babies who are refusing to take bottles.
- Bring the bottle level with your baby, holding it parallel with the floor. This will mean the teat is not completely full, it has milk and air (I know for years we have been told no air!)
- Let baby suck on an empty teat for a couple of sucks so she/he still feels like they have to stimulate the flow (letdown) as they do at the breast. Let your baby dictate the pace.
- Every couple of swallows pull the milk back a little in the teat to give your baby a break to emulate their sucking pattern at the breast. Or take them off every now and then and rest the teat on their chin or cheek so they know it is still there and don’t have to get worried about getting more.
- As the feed progresses slow the flow of the milk down even more. This emulates what happens at the breast as milk goes from the faster flow of the fore milk to the slower flow of the hind milk. So when your baby comes back to the breast she/he will not have developed a preference or a liking for the constant fast flow of a bottle. At the breast babies have to work much harder for the milk reward. However, there is an upside to this as it aids optimal oral and speech development.
- When removing the teat rotate the teat ½ way round to signal to your baby that it will be removed to prevent biting down, which could encourage biting down on the breast later.
- Paced bottle feeding may also reduce the volume baby takes per bottle feed, ensuring when baby comes back to the breast she/he will still be satisfied with the amount she/he gets at the breast. (Over time milk volumes at the breast do not increase significantly, however the composition of the milk does change from day to day and feed to feed. If using a breastmilk substitute, the volume increases over time and the composition stays the same.
- Consider giving less per bottle feed. This is again to emulate the volumes at the breast, rather than trying to stretch out the feeding schedule for convenience of the carer.