Bottle Feeding a Baby: Pacing the Bottle Feed

The Breastfeeding Center of Ann Arbor

Barbara Robertson, MA, IBCLC

 

 

Bottle feeding your baby!

When you breastfeed your baby they get to control how much milk they get, and how fast they get it.

Bottle feeding is very different. The milk flows fast! Sometimes babies choke. Sometimes they gulp quickly with wide eyes and a worried look.

How can we help our babies with bottle feeding and cope with this quick flow and not develop a preference for that quick milk flow? This is important for all bottle fed babies, no matter what is in the bottle. However, for mothers who have returned to work and are needing to bottle feed while they are away, this technique is critical. It will help your baby not to overfeed while away and teach them that all feeding is work and takes time, just like breastfeeding. What a great life lesson! We do have a phone app that might help with bottle feeding! We also have a new podcast that can help shed some light on this situation. Check out our youtube video!

 

bottle feeding, breastfeeding, pumping, breast pump

Pacing the bottle feed

 

 

“Pacing (Kassing)” the bottle feed:

Helps babies feel safe and comfortable while they feed.

Helps keep flow more like breastfeeding.

Helps reduce overfeeding of babies with a bottle.

Helps protect the breastfeeding relationship.

 

How “pacing” the feed works:

  • Have the baby sit very upright.
  • Use a slow flow, wide based bottle teat.
  • Touch the baby’s chin or upper lip with the tip of the teat. When the baby cues for feeding by opening their mouth gently slide the teat in as deeply as the baby allows.
  • Keep the bottle so the breastmilk just fills the teat.
  • Don’t worry about the baby swallowing air. You may need to burp more but this is a small price to pay compared to baby thinking that feeding is easy. We want to teach babies that feeding takes time and effort, with the breast, and with the bottle.
  • After 3 or so swallows, gently twist the teat so the nipple seal is broken and rest the teat against the baby’s chin, cheek, or upper lip. This allows the baby to catch their breath, realize feeding takes time, but not worry that the breastmilk and bottle is gone.
  • Is the baby getting stressed? Are they frowning, wrinkling their forehead, widening their eyes, splaying their hands, making squeaking sounds, choking? If so, twist the teat out of their mouth and give them a break.
  • When they cue again by opening their mouth allow wide, repeat the process.
  • This process should take about 20 minutes. Babies need time to realize they are full just like grownups. It takes time but it is so worth it!
  • Watch for satiation cues, getting sleepy, not cueing by opening mouth, turning away from the teat, becoming more interested in surroundings, let them decide they are done.
  • If you feel the baby has had an appropriate amount of supplement, take a break, have a burp, change a diaper, shift position, and see if the baby cues again.

Some families worry that the baby will swallow more air feeding this way and become gassy. Think of it this way, do you swallow more air sipping tea or chugaging a big glass of something? Gulping quickly actually causes more air swallowing!