Paced Bottle Feeding

Most babies are going to need to drink milk from a bottle at some point, even if their moms are exclusively breastfeeding. No big deal, right? Just put the milk (or formula) into a bottle and let the baby eat.

Actually, there’s an ideal way to feed a baby from a bottle. It’s called paced bottle feeding

Paced bottle feeding is a method that mimics breastfeeding—so it’s beneficial for moms using a bottle to feed their infants either breast milk or formula. During a feed at the breast, the baby has to work harder to get the milk and eat more slowly than he or she would using a bottle. That means that, at the breast, the baby is more aware of feeling full. That’s a good thing, because it minimizes the chances of the baby overeating. 

Paced bottle feeding helps in these ways:

  • For breastfed babies: It lessens confusion for breastfed babies who may sometimes be drinking for a bottle. Paced bottle feeding allows them to suck and swallow in ways similar to feeding at the breast.
  • For formula-fed babies: It can lessen gas and colic and help you become more in tune with your baby’s signs and signals. 

How to Do Paced Bottle Feeding

  1. Hold your baby upright at a 45-degree angle, rather than flat.
  2. Then hold the bottle at a more horizontal angle (as compared to the typically seen vertical angle).
  3. Feed for 10-20 minutes, giving the baby pauses by pulling the nipple slightly out of his or her mouth. Do this every 20-30 seconds to give your baby an opportunity to latch back on to the bottle. You can even switch sides during a paced feed, as you would during a feeding at the breast.

At some point, when full, your baby will stop latching back on. 

Check out this video from a lactation consultant for a powerful visual on how to do paced bottled feeding.  

Anyone can do this—partners, family members, daycare staff and more. Paced bottle feeding should continue until your baby can control his or her own milk intake, something that will happen at different times for different babies, but should happen sometime before age 1.

See also ... 

•  How to bottle feed the breastfed baby

•  Bottles and other tools

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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