If your baby is latching well and gaining weight, the 5th or 6th week of life is a good time to introduce a bottle, especially if you plan on using one at any point in the future.
Introducing a bottle can be a touchy process—you may have to try a few different brands and types of nipples before you find one that works for your baby.
Although it may feel a bit scary at first, teaching your little one to take a bottle can make life a little easier. For example, if your partner wants to feed the baby, or you want a break from feeding, expressed breast milk in a bottle will make that possible.
Tips to help you get started with bottle feeding:
- Practice “paced” bottle feeding, which mimics breastfeeding (feeding on demand, switching the baby from one side of your body to the other, etc.), when giving a bottle to a breastfed baby. If your partner, a childcare provider or family member is going to be feeding your baby regularly, make sure they know how to do paced feeding.
- Get an electric pump. Electric pumps mimic your baby’s suck more closely than manual pumps, which makes them more effective. Your health insurance should cover a breast pump under the Affordable Care Act. You can also rent a hospital-grade pump, if you need one.
- Start early. Plan your first pumping sessions for an early morning, when your breasts are full and before your baby wakes and wants to nurse. Note: Some healthcare providers recommend against pumping until after the baby breastfeeds for the first time in the morning. Ask your provider about this.
- Pump frequently. Remember, the more milk you remove from your breasts, the more milk your breasts will make. The first few times, you may pump an ounce or less. In time, many moms can pump as much as 8 or more ounces in a session!
- Store it correctly. Store your pumped milk in the freezer in small bags or containers designed for holding breast milk (a lactation consultant can recommend a good brand).
For guidelines on storing, freezing and thawing breast milk, see the La Leche League website.
This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.
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