As a new mother, I had no experience what so ever when it came to breastfeeding a baby. Between previously working in day cares, babysitting infants and being around younger cousins, I had bottle fed a fair share of breastfed babies. Once I became a mother of my own I was given a whole new task. I had accomplished exclusively breastfeeding right from the beginning and was extremely proud of that. Mia was an excellent eater and gaining weight quickly. However I did not realize that at some point I would have an issue with introducing my child to a bottle.
I then received a lot of opinions from other mothers that had introduced their breastfed children to a bottle. Many of them had similar experiences with their baby having regression of the bottle in the very beginning of introducing it. I was told the best way to get my baby to take a bottle of breast milk would be to leave her for a long enough time and she would get hungry enough to eat what ever was given to her. “She’ll eventually get so hungry she’ll have no choice but to take the bottle.” I really didn’t like the idea of letting my baby get so hungry that she’s forced to eat something she doesn’t feel comfortable eating. I didn’t want to take that comfort of security away from her just so I could have someone else feed her for me.
The option of letting my daughter cry until her lungs were sore because her tummy felt so empty was out of the question. Fortunately I didn’t have a deadline of when I needed to have her take a bottle so I decided I was going to gently introduce it to her slowly. That way she would be more interested and willing to take it once she understood that just because she wasn’t getting her milk from the breast didn’t mean it wasn’t milk from the breast. Below are the three main things I found to work best when it came to gently introducing my breastfed baby to a bottle.
1. Explore Your Options
When the time comes to select what type of bottle your baby will use for expressed milk, explore your options and keep an open mind when it comes to your options. I didn’t realize how many different brands and types of bottles there were until I needed to purchase one. At first I thought “I have these bottles included with my breast pump, I can just put a nipple on it and bam there’s my bottle.” No. It’s not always that simple. Now I’m sure there are some instances where the first bottle you give your baby they take it right away but that was not the case for me. And I know I’m not the only mother who has experienced this. So I decided to explore the range of bottles available and introduce a new one to her every time she would reject one. Yes this option can get pricey so I started with the least expensive bottle and worked my way up. After six different brands, and countless ounces of milk wasted, she finally seemed to show interest in what was coming out.
2. Stay Consistent
The first time you go to give your baby their first bottle and they spit it out with a disgusted look on their face, don’t give up assuming that she will never take milk from anything other than your breast. Consistency is key when it comes to bottle introduction. And from my experience, a little milk at a time can go a long way. One ounce, two ounces tops, because you’ll end up dumping whatever she doesn’t eat after it’s sat out for too long. The first time I gave my daughter a bottle of breast milk, I put a full four ounces in it assuming she would down the entire thing like the little piggy she was. After an hour of her suckling and spitting out milk, she had only drank about half an ounce. What I found worked best for us was to give her a small amount of breast milk in a bottle every day. That way she could get the feel of drinking her milk from something else other than a breast and I wasn’t wasting so much expressed milk at a time. Since I was giving her a bottle every day, it wasn’t forced on her and she was more willing to drink what was inside. Now when she sees me preparing her bottle, she gets excited and is more willing to take it.
3. Be Patient
As simple as it may see to introduce a bottle of the exact same liquid that comes out of your breast, it can be a complex and abrupt change for your baby. She may cry, she may pull away and she may even spit it all back out. And as frustrating as you may feel, remember to always be patient with your little one. It might not seem like a big deal but to them, it is huge difference eating from a breast to a bottle. As a mother, the best thing you can do for your baby is to take this new milestone as ever it may come. Whether she takes to the bottle right away or takes months to even reach out for the bottle, keep your cool and have patience. And always remember to have confidence in knowing that you as a mother are doing the right thing no matter what decision you make or path you may take.