For a lot of babies, the switch from breastfeeding to using bottles and pacifiers is something that comes easy. For others, it is difficult for them to get used to. If your baby falls into the latter category, there is no need to worry. The mechanics between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are rather different, and so it can take some babies a bit of getting used to.
After all, when a baby drinks milk using a bottle, the milk flows out when you tilt it upside down and they start drink. Your baby, therefore, needs to lift his or her tongue to prevent the flow of milk and ensure they do not choke. Your baby will not need to use his/her jaw, and simply purses the lips around the hard plastic. The child does not have to work for the continual flow of milk that comes out of the bottle. This is completely different when you contrast it with breastfeeding.
When a child breastfeeds, the jaw and tongue need to work in a rhythm together; the tongue is cupped under the areola and pressed up against the palate. This elongates and flattens the tissue around the nipple. The tongue is then dropped back to form a groove so that the milk flows from the nipple into the child’s mouth.
As you can see, the process is completely difficult, and for a young baby it can take a bit of getting used to. However, there are some ways you can make the process easier. So let’s take a look at some useful trips for introducing bottles and pacifiers to a breastfed baby, as well as how you can deal with certain issues regarding the introduction of bottles and pacifiers, for example, if your baby suddenly stops taking their pacifier…
What to do if your breastfed baby no longer wants to take their pacifier
This seems like a good place to start seen as we have already mentioned it. If you have finally gotten your baby to take a pacifier and all of a sudden they do not want it anymore, it can be incredibly frustrating. It can seem like all of your hard work is undone. However, there could be a very simple explanation for this. It could be that the pacifier has fissures or cracks due to regular use and cleaning, and so buying a new pacifier could rectify the problem. Or, it could be that your baby has got older and the size of the pacifier is too small. Of course, once your baby hits around one-years-old, if they stop using their pacifier, this isn’t a bad thing! It means you are not going to have a struggle weaning it from them.
Shift to the pacifier once your baby has stopped breastfeeding
One option you have at your disposal is to start with the breast and then move to the pacifier afterwards, rather than trying to get your child to do both at once. After all, in the early stages of your baby’s life, your breast acts as a natural pacifier. Have you ever noticed that sometimes your child will suck without gaining any milk? This is known as Non-Nutritive Sucking, NNS, and it has a number of benefits. This includes the fact it is a mood enhancer, a source of soothing, calmness, security, and comfort, and that it focuses and relaxes your baby’s attention while self-regulating your child’s emotions. Other natural pacifiers include your finger and your baby’s thumb. With that in mind, you can always shift to the pacifier once you have finish breastfeeding your baby.
Of course, there are some women who do not have the option of this because they need to give their baby bottle milk to supplement their nutrition. This can happen for a number of medical reasons, from low weight gain to jaundice, as well as severe nipple soreness. If the bottle simply is not working, you could look into one of the other feeding options, for example, syringe feeding, dropper feeding, spoon feeding, tube feeding or cup feeding. Your doctor will be able to advise on this if you are unsure.
Warm the pacifier slightly
Another reason why your child may not be taking the pacifier is because it is cold. After all, the pacifier is colder than your nipple is. The pacifier will be room temperature, which is around 25 degrees, whereas your nipple is going to be normal body temperature, which is 37 degrees. Therefore, one easy way to get around this is to warm the pacifier. You can do this by soaking it in a bowel of warm water for a few minutes or by running it under warm water. Before you give your child the pacifier, make sure you squeeze it so that you get rid of all the water that has become trapped.
Go for the rounded nipple pacifier and bottle first
Another reason why your child may not take the pacifier or bottle is because of the shape of the nipple. You should try the rounded nipple version first. However, if your child keeps spitting it out and will not use it, opt for one that is shaped as an orthodontic nipple. Although your breast nipple is round, when your baby sucks on the nipple, it turns into an orthodontic shape in the mouth, and so they may prefer an orthodontic pacifier. You can try both options to see if it makes any difference.
You could be getting the timing wrong
Another reason why some babies will not take the pacifier or the bottle is because of the timing. For example, if your child is hungry, they may not accept the pacifier. You should never use the pacifier to replace a breastfeeding session.
Get your partner to give your baby his or her bottle
Your partner can prove very useful when getting your baby to accept a bottle. This is because your newborn is clever enough to detect your smell, and so when you are nearby and it is feeding time, your child is going to expect the natural nipple of your breast – not the bottle. This is where your spouse comes in. You can get your partner to give your child the bottle at first. You may even want to stay out of the room so that your child does not get confused.
Add some drops of breast milk to the pacifier or the bottle before giving it to your baby
This is another trick that a lot of women use to tempt their little one to use the bottle or the pacifier. For a baby that has been breastfed, the feel, smell, and taste of natural milk is something they have grown used to and like. When this is replaced with latex, rubber, or silicone, it is far away from the natural taste and texture of your skin, and this is why a lot of babies will refuse a bottle or a pacifier. Therefore, before you give your infant their pacifier or bottle, you can extract some drops of breast milk on it. This has the purpose of adding a taste that is familiar and pleasant for your child, and this will make them more likely to take the bottle or pacifier. Once your child is used to the bottle and pacifier, you will find that you do not need to do this anymore, as the bottle and milk formula then becomes something they are familiar with.
A final few tricks that can help you ensure your breastfed baby accepts the pacifier
- Change the position of your breastfed baby, between a semi-upright and lying down position
- Give your baby some distraction by getting out of the house during daytime
- Change the room that you used to nurse in
- Play some sounds that will change the atmosphere in the room
Hopefully, you now feel more prepared to introduce your breastfed baby to bottles and pacifiers. Don’t worry if you are experiencing a little bit of a struggle as your baby gets used to this new way of feeding. This is only natural, as some babies struggle to process the change. However, if you use the tips that have been provided, you should find the process a lot easier and you should get your baby used to bottles and pacifiers in no time. Good luck!