It’s best to wait until your baby is three to four weeks old and breastfeeding has been established before introducing a bottle.
If you’re planning on returning to work, the Philips Mother and Child Division suggests you begin bottle feeding at least two weeks before your start date, so you can work out any difficulties well ahead of time. Feeding from a bottle may take your baby a while to get used to.
Top tips for a smooth transition from breast to bottle:
- Offer your baby a bottle a little later than their regular feeding time so they will be hungry and interested.
- Let someone else feed your little one the very first bottle, so they don’t get confused about why you’re not breastfeeding.
- Try to be out of the house when someone else bottle feeds your baby for the first time. Babies can smell their mother from a distance of at least 20 feet and they may know that you’re around, even if you’re in another room.
- Bottle feeding can feel as nurturing as breastfeeding if you cuddle your baby close.
- Your baby may not feed well when you aren’t home and if you are away all day, your baby may begin waking more frequently at night. Don't be surprised if this happens and use these quiet and intimate times to reconnect with your little one.
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If your baby resists feeding from a bottle, you could try these techniques:
- Use a bottle teat that is similar to your baby’s soother.
- Heat the teat with warm water to make it more appealing.
- Put some breast milk on the teat, to encourage your baby to suck.
- Let your baby play with the teat so they can familiarise themselves with it.
- Try holding your baby in a different position. Put them in a baby seat or car seat so they are semi-upright, and then feed them the bottle while facing them.
- Once your baby is used to taking a bottle, you can try reverting back to your usual technique for feedings.
Source: Philips Mother and Child Division. Image: Shutterstock