Making bottle feeding like breastfeeding

Feeding is a special time and even when being bottle fed your baby will experience some of the benefits of breastfeeding.

Mom should do the feedings

You, the mother should do the majority of feeds, as it would be if breastfeeding, for optimal social and emotional growth of your baby.

When bottle feeding, it is easier to pass the baby off for others to feed, but strong bonding with the primary care giver, Mother, is what baby needs most.

Devote your attention to your baby

Put the phone away and devote yourself to baby during most feedings. This is a great bonding time between you and your little one; make the most of it. Have Dad cook dinner or pick up the slack while you feed the baby.

Hold the baby and the bottle

Hold the baby for feedings. Never prop up the bottle. Look, talk, stroke and play with baby while he or she eats. This is good for their emotional and intellectual development. It’s good for yours too (wink).

You should hold the bottle for all feedings, even for older babies. Consider the bottle part of you, not the baby. So even when baby is old enough to hold the bottle, you continue to hold it also.

Switch sides

Switch sides half way through the feeding or every other feed. This will enhance your baby’s eye development and eye-hand coordination on both sides.

Paced bottle feeding

Bottle nipples come in various flow speeds. Be sure to start out with the slowest speed offered. The feeding should take 15-20 minutes, so choose a bottle nipple that delivers a flow at about that pace. Hold your baby nearly upright and the bottle nearly horizontal.

Be patient and gentle, waiting for your baby to open his or her mouth rather than pushing the bottle in. Place the tip of the nipple just below their nose and let him “reach” for it. Or tap the lower lip until the baby opens wide.

Allow your baby to pace her own feeding. Don’t force her to finish a bottle if she indicates she is done.

Skin to skin contact

Breastfed babies get large doses of skin to skin contact daily. Give your baby some skin time while bottle feeding. Your baby can be skin to skin with your arm, chest, tummy or breast. For extra points consider learning infant massage. The benefits of skin to skin contact have been found to be even more powerful than previously understood.

Don’t rush your baby to wean from the bottle. Enjoy and treasure this special time.