Bottle Feeding Breastmilk

Before giving any advice on bottle feeding breastmilk, you should know that a breast pump cannot stimulate breastmilk production like a baby does. If you are going to pump exclusively, you will need to pump more often.

Breastfeeding and bottle feeding mothers should pump those times that they would typically breastfeed to keep breastmilk supply up.

An Important Fact about Bottle Feeding Breastmilk

Never warm breastmilk in the microwave, it can form air pockets that might burn your baby. Heating it in the microwave will destroy some of the nutrients.

bottle fed baby, bottle feeding

Reasons for Bottle Feeding Breastmilk

  • Mom is returning to work and will need somebody to bottle feed her baby breastmilk during the day.
  • Mom wants to take a break at night. This will give dad or another family member the chance to feed and bond with the baby while she rests.
  • Mom may just find that she prefers to feed her baby with a bottle.
  • Mom expresses her breastmilk because she wants to increase her milk supply. Remember this should be done while continuing to breastfeed if at all possible. 

Bottle Breast Feeding Milk Tips

These tips are primarily for mothers who are planning on continued breastfeeding.

  • Make sure that your baby is not making a lot of sucking or popping sounds while drinking.
  • Never prop a bottle up against something and leave your baby unattended while feeding. Baby can choke like this and will end up swallowing more air, resulting in more spit ups and gas pain.
  • A breastmilk bottle feeding time should be seen as a time to bond with your baby. While breastfeeding, a mother spends valuable bonding time with her baby, this should be experienced during bottle feeding too.
  • When handling breastmilk from a bottle, always follow proper breastmilk storage guidelines.
  • You can alternatively use other feeding methods like cup feeding.
  • Do not just stuff the nipple into your baby’s mouth, but let him/her root for it and take it by themselves, just as with breastfeeding.
  • Pausing every few minutes will mimic the let-down reflex that occurs when a mother is breastfeeding; this will also prevent nipple confusion.
  • Use a bottle that closely mimics the breast
bottle fed baby, bottle feeding

Introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby when bottle feeding and breastfeeding

  • It is recommended to only start introducing the bottle after a baby is between 3 – 5 weeks old and can breastfeed well. This is so that your breastmilk supply does not dwindle when you start breastfeeding less and expressing more.
  • If a bottle needs to be introduced before 4 weeks of age, it's best to use alternative feeding methods like cup or finger feeding.
  • For the first couple of bottles, it would be best to first breastfeed for a few minutes to ease your baby’s hunger and then only give him/her the bottle.
  • Some mothers have found that it’s best to let somebody else give their babies the first few bottles, as babies associate their mothers with the comfort of the breast.

Ways to Express your Milk for Breast Bottle Feeding

  • Hand expression is the cheap and convenient way to express your breastmilk, but not recommended for mothers who are trying to increase milk supply. 
  • Handheld breast pumps: This is usually quicker than hand expressing, but should only be used once your milk supply is established.
  • Electric breast pumps: They are usually quite expensive, but are great for increasing milk supply. They can be hired too, sometimes at a very reasonable price. These types of pumps come in double action so that you can pump both breasts at the same time; saving you time. How to choose the right breast pump.
  • Learn more about pumping and breastfeeding to increase milk supply.

How to Bottle Feed a Breastfed Baby

Learn more about paced bottle feeding here. 

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