Transparent plastic feeding bottle with blue cap and silicone teat

How to Balance Breastfeeding and Bottle

When it comes to nursing a baby, every mom tries her best. While some women experience no problems in breastfeeding, others start shedding up tears soon after the baby is born. However, there is no need to worry. Mothers can provide the best of both worlds to their kids. Although it is suggested that the baby is breastfed for at least the initial six months but you can provide bottle milk as well.

The reason women would want to go for either breastfeeding or bottle depends on their routine. If they are busy throughout the day and cannot provide breastmilk each time, then bottle milk will suffice. This is also the time when you give it thorough thought. If the answer is yes, all you need to do now is create a sufficient backup of milk supply so that the change in nursing habits do not affect the baby.

Why provide supplement milk?

Woman breastfeeding her baby on a shore

Today, the majority of women tend to balance nursing and providing milk that contains supplements. What this means is that a baby is being provided bottles of formula. There are several reasons for moms providing supplement milk. It could be that it is hard to pump at work, someone might be forcing you to stop breastfeeding or it could simply be that you are not able to fulfill the baby’s milk needs. In addition to that, if you are a mother of older children as well, breastfeeding becomes even more difficult. You have to tend to them as well and look after the house. This is a very tough job and requires patience.

In the case of someone forcing you to pursue formula milk, think it through. Just because your aunt, brother or mother-in-law is forcing you to go for it, doesn’t mean that they are the best decision-makers. Times have changed and so has technology. If you can afford to breastfeed your baby for the first six months, then nothing better than that. There is no doubt that breastmilk is the best form of nutrition your baby is going to receive. Keep it up as long as you can.

Introduce the bottle but not too early

Woman holding a bottle feeder

Mothers are suggested to introduce bottles to babies when they are 2 weeks to 6 weeks of age. If the bottle milk is introduced too early, then the baby will prefer the easier flow of milk rather than the breast. However, that aside, the important thing is that your baby should be receiving the appropriate amount of nutrition he/she requires. Some babies will get used to nursing pretty soon, while others will give a bit of time. The key is to find the right balance. Once your baby starts gaining weight, either don’t wait for too much or introduce the bottle milk too early. Baby sucking reflexes fade away after 6 to 8 weeks of birth, therefore, it is better to provide bottle milk before that. Chances are that it won’t be rejected.

Start Slowly and using the right nipple

Begin by filling the milk bottle with around half an ounce of supplement milk. If you have been breastfeeding your baby, it is suggested that you use a nipple whose shape resembles your nipples. It should be both wide and slow flow nipples that will make it easier for the baby to suck on it, instead of rejecting it. However, if the mother has fast-flowing nipples, a child older than 3 months will find it hard to suck on it and will become frustrated. As a result, it is suggested that a faster nipple is used. Take note of baby feeds. Usually, crying is a sign of hunger. Therefore, provide milk to your baby after every hour or two.

Furthermore, ask your partner or caregiver to provide bottled milk to the baby. You can expect him/her to reject it first because he/she is attached to the breastmilk. It will not only help the baby get familiar with bottle milk but develop a relationship between the caretaker and your partner as well. It could be a frustrating process though. Babys out to cry and will reject. Therefore, you need to be patient and go with the flow.

Do not force and be patient

As mentioned previously, if the baby refuses to drink at first, do not force. Instead, wait an hour or two but keep trying. Make sure that you do not wear out the baby. The problem with, if you force the baby to drink is that early overfeeding could result in obesity later on in your child. This is a problem, which then takes a lot of struggle and time to eliminate. Therefore, you want it neither on your hands nor your baby’s. If the baby tends to push away the bottle, it is time that you put the bottle away. And remember, once the baby has consumed some milk, do not use the leftover again to feed him/her. Unlike breastmilk, the formula milk leftover cannot be used again.

Prevent leaking and clogged ducts

When you are breastfeeding your baby, the body makes certain changes and follows a particular routine in terms of milk production. It does so that you always have breast milk to feed your baby. However, once you shift your baby towards bottle milk, the breasts will become engorged. This is because the body then tries to adjust itself with the reduced consumption and production of milk. Breast engorgement leads to embarrassing leakages and even painful breast tissue infection.

Therefore, another reason for introducing formula milk slowly is to prevent breast engorgement. The best way to do is to replace one nursing day of the week with formula milk. You can provide the milk at the same time. Another way is to provide a small portion of formula milk after nursing. As a result, your baby will slowly get used to it and your body will have more time to produce milk.

Understand the process of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding

Even though the two processes might look identical but they are different. In terms of breastfeeding, a baby has to open his/her mouth wide and then suck on the nipples by latching onto them. This is a suck, swallow, and breathe sequence that babies carry out. Whereas, in the case of bottle-feeding, since the bottle is providing a free flow mechanism, babies only need to pause in order to breathe. As a result, babies will usually develop a preference for the bottle. Therefore, understanding the difference between the two processes makes a huge difference in the way babies react to feeds as well.

Final Word

It goes without saying that finding the right balance between breastfeeding and bottle is a bit complicated. It is a time taking process and patience is key. Babies differ from each other in many ways and respond varyingly to nursing techniques as well. Therefore, it might be that your kid doesn’t even shed a single tear when it comes to bottle milk and at the same time might scream at the top of his/her lungs, you never know. Therefore, the best way to deal with it is to take things slowly and gradually. Both you and your baby will automatically find the balance through the process.