Anne, I have friends who breastfed their babies exclusively for
the first couple of months, then discovered that their baby would
not take a bottle at all, even with expressed breastmilk. While
I plan to breastfeed, I also want to be able to express my milk
and allow family members to help with feedings. How can I make
sure my babies will breastfeed and also take a bottle?
The risk of nipple confusion, whether by introducing a bottle
or pacifier, is greatest during the early days of nursing. The
longer you wait to introduce artificial nipples, the less risk
there is of confusing your baby. It usually takes a couple of
weeks, and sometimes longer, for mothers and babies to get really
good at nursing. By that time, any problems you had in the beginning,
such as engorgement or nipple soreness, should be pretty much
resolved, and your baby's pattern of weight gain should be established.
is going along smoothly, there should be no reason to use artificial
nipples in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Nursing frequently
and using the breast as a pacifier are what builds a good milk
supply and helps you and your baby develop a special closeness
during the period immediately after your baby's birth. Use the
fact that you are exclusively nursing during the first few weeks
to get lots of rest.
If you know
that you want to have the option of giving your baby bottles,
this is what I recommend:
At 3-4 weeks
(or 2-3 weeks if you are returning to work at 6 weeks) begin pumping
after feedings for 4-5 minutes if your baby had a good feeding,
or 8-10 minutes if he didn't nurse well or only nursed on one
breast. This will get out the rest of the high calorie, fatty
hind milk, and will not interfere with your baby's nursing schedule.
a bottle with a small amount in it at the beginning, and try giving
it to him at a time when he isn't frantically hungry. He is more
likely to accept the idea of trying something new when he isn't
starving. Most babies one month old or less will accept the bottle
readily, but if you wait much longer than that, some babies will
get very set in their ways and refuse to settle for anything less
than the real thing
If you are
bottle-feeding a newborn, I recommend a slow-flow orthodontic
nipple or Avent newborn nipples. If you are offering the bottle
to an older baby, I don't think the type of nipple is really important.
A baby older than a few weeks is very unlikely to forget how to
nurse just because you give him an artificial nipple.
Once you introduce
the bottle, make sure that you continue to offer it to him several
times a week. Many mothers have offered bottles when their baby
was a few weeks old and they took them just fine, but when they
waited a few weeks and tried again, the older baby flatly refused
to take it.
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