How to Introduce a Bottle to a Breastfed/Chestfed Baby

Most babies of all ages will accept a bottle – some with a little coaxing!   It isn’t so much about nipple confusion for a baby when they take a bottle, but more about flow preference.

If you keep the flow slow they may be more likely go back and forth between breast and bottle easily.

Here are some tips on choosing and using your bottle:

  • Choose the slowest flow nipple available for that bottle system, often a preemie flow can work best.
  • The more that is in the bottle the more the baby will drink so start with a smaller volume feed at first and see how they do.
  • Aim nipple at the baby’s nose and let them open wide before you place it in. Baby should have a nice wide gape on bottle.
  • Keep fluid covering the hole of the nipple but allow baby to pace the flow by sitting more upright and keeping the bottle more horizontal.

Tips for offering the first bottle:

  • Warm the bottle in a bowl of warm water (bath temperature) or a bottle warmer.
  • Make sure baby is changed and ready for the feeding.
  • Often it helps to run the bottle nipple under warm water, if it was also in the refrigerator, to make it more acceptable to the baby.
  • Baby should be held in an upright, almost sitting, position that is similar to the position usually used by the support person.
  • Tickle the baby’s mouth to encourage an open mouth then bring baby up onto the bottle nipple, aiming the nipple toward the palate.
  • Some have found that it can help to have an article of clothing you have worn, like a nightgown or t-shirt, to place on their arm, shoulder, or chest where the baby can smell your scent.

What if baby is drinking milk too fast? Here are some stress cues that feeding may need to be slowed down:

  • Leaking milk
  • Choking or coughing
  • Furrowed brow
  • Watery eyes
  • Panting
  • Chugging
  • Hard swallows
  • Not taking breaks between suckles

If your baby is struggling to take a bottle connect with a CLE or IBCLC for support.

About the Author

Bonnie Holt Logsdon (she/her/hers), a Registered Dietitian (RD), International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Certified Lactation Educator™ (CLE©) and trainer through CAPPA and a trained birth doula with over eighteen years of experience in community-based practice.

Bonnie supports families during the prenatal and postpartum period for both lactation and nutrition support. In-person support is available in the Louisville, KY and Southern Indiana area and telehealth visits are available to anyone anywhere!

Offering personalized, affirming care to each family and individual is her #1 priority! Supporting families during this critical and emotional time in their lives is such important work. Her motto is to provide compassionate, non-judgmental support to meet you where you are and help you meet your chest/breastfeeding or nutrition goals.

When she is not doing this job that she loves, she spends time with her husband and son. After lots of travel they now enjoy adventure as a family of three. Fingers crossed we can get back to more travel soon!

She believes empowering people with education to make informed decisions related to their health and the health of their babies is powerful work. Support is provided for families of all backgrounds, structures, and identities.

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