Weaning your baby from breast to bottle – yes you’ve heard it all before breast is best. Everyone rams that down your throat. But, there comes a time in any mother’s life when you need your baby to take a bottle.
Whether this is because you are returning to work, whether this is because you are having a few drinks at night or whether this is because you are ready to stop breastfeeding your infant completely, what is the best way to get your child to go from breast to bottle? Every child is completely different but here are some suggestions. Don’t get discouraged if one method doesn’t work for you; some babies will refuse the bottle completely and go straight to a cup while others will latch on to anything with a teat on it.
Some Babies Hate the Bottle…
Even if you plan on exclusively breastfeeding you can still offer your baby a bottle early on. You may wish to wait a few weeks until your supply is sorted or you may wish to start right away. Letting your baby feel the silicon in her mouth and try to latch on will help her adjust when the time comes. However, only do this after she has had her regular feed so she is not already hungry and frustrated. You may want to only express a small amount into the bottle each night to let her get used to it. Or, you may find that she takes the bottle without a problem on the first go.
Test out Different Teats
If your baby doesn’t like the bottle it might be because the teat is wrong. Teats come with different numbers to determine the flow as well as different shapes designed to help babies with different sucking refluxes. The Medela Calma bottle is designed to match the flow of breastfeeding but you may have just as much success with other names such as Tommy Tippee and Avent. If one bottle doesn’t work, consider opting for a different type.
Let Someone Else Take Over
Your baby may also be hesitant to take the bottle from you as she is used to your breasts. If someone else feeds her she may be more willing to actually suck. Babies associate mum with milk from an early age and thus if you are not offering her the breast, she is probably going to wonder why not.
Express Your Milk
If you have missed a feed you may need to express in order to remain comfortable and keep your supply up. However, this will all depend on how much milk you are producing and how much milk baby is taking each feed. It is a good idea to set aside a half an hour to express the missed feed if you are planning on giving baby a bottle.
Take Baby Steps
There is a big difference between letting your baby have both the breast and the bottle and weaning your baby completely off the breast. Many mothers will continue to breast feed and give a bottle for several months at the same time. However, if you want to wean your baby off the breast permanently, then this is another story. You cannot simply say “that’s it, I’m done breastfeeding now” and switch to formula or full cream milk. Your body will not get the message quick enough and your breasts will continue to produce milk.
What this means is that you can expect painful engorgement and possible mastitis as well. Instead, you need to take baby steps when weaning your baby. You need to start by eliminating one feed at a time and over time. It may take you several weeks to completely wean your baby off the breast and you may still feel pain and engorgement during this long process.