Breastfeeding and Transitioning to the Bottle
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Do you remember when breastfeeding felt like a mystery? At one point in time, perhaps you weren't quite sure how to begin breastfeeding. Maybe you took a class to learn, maybe you talked with a lactation specialist, or perhaps you acquired information about breastfeeding right here on EverydayFamily. Now, breastfeeding may seem like second nature, and perhaps you are considering transitioning your baby to the bottle.
Bottle-feeding doesn't mean that you need to give up breastfeeding. In fact, if you are pumping milk, your child will still be receiving breast milk as his/her primary nutritional source. Many infants are both breast and bottle fed, providing both optimal nutrition and flexibility in feeding.
Bottle-feeding is especially helpful if you plan to return to work, have other children, or simply want to have others involved in the feeding responsibility of your baby. It can offer additional flexibility, like sleeping through the night thanks to the help of a bottle and your partner.
Although feeding your baby via bottle may sound much simpler than breastfeeding, there may be some “bumps in the road” during this transition, which can be avoided with a little planning.
One such bump may be that you're used to having what you need to feed your baby on you at all times. While there's a little more equipment involved with bottle feeding, it doesn't have to be more difficult.
There are some great products out there to help ease the process, like The First Years 4-in-1 Remote Control Warmer. While your partner lets you sleep through the night, they can easily warm a bottle from the comfort of bed! With a simple, one-touch remote, this sleep-friendly solution lets you streamline middle-of-the-night feedings. Simply put a bottle in the unit before bedtime; the system is insulated to keep the bottle chilled for up to 8 hours. Preset the length of time you want the bottle to warm and then to drift off to sleep. When baby wakes ready to eat, the system quickly warms the bottle with a push of the remote's button. Your partner can enjoy a little extra snooze time too as the bottle warms! As if that weren't amazing enough, The First Years 4-in-1 Remote Control Warmer also safely heats baby food jars and sanitizes pacifiers!
Since most experts recommend exclusively breastfeeding a baby for the first few weeks of life, soon after nursing has been well established (i.e. after a month) is a good time to introduce a bottle.
As you have been the one to breastfeed your baby, you may find your baby more receptive to someone else providing that first bottle (like your partner while you sleep!). Your little one may be confused as to why you are offering up a bottle when the breast is present. So you may want to leave the immediate area (i.e. stay in bed) where your baby is to be fed. Babies have a keen sense of smell and may resist taking from a bottle if you are in the vicinity.
Don't be frustrated if it takes a little time to make the transition. To play it safe, most experts recommend you transition a baby to the bottle at least two weeks in advance of returning back to work.
Note that it may take a little time for the baby to adjust to the bottle. The nipple may be of different texture, smell, and temperature. If your baby does not respond to one type of nipple, try another.
As with everything in parenthood, remember it may take time, and be patient. With both time and trial (and perhaps a few errors), bottle-feeding will eventually be second nature too.