Moving from Breast to Bottle – How to Introduce Bottles

As specialists, we are always asked by mothers about the best feed for their baby, and how to make the transition from breast to bottle go smoothly.

Of course, we always speak about the benefits of breastfeeding, and that it is best for baby and always preferable to bottle feeding.  However, there eventually comes a time when weaning the baby and introducing them to bottle for the first time becomes necessary, for example returning to work.

The transition may be a challenge for the mother and baby, it might involve, frustration and may cause some stress. In addition to the taste, even sucking the milk from both sources requires different movement of mouth and tongue.

The best way to ease the transition is to start slow and gradually. Make sure the baby is not introduced to it all of a sudden and that they are prepared for it.

Here’s how you can make sure your baby moves from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding with ease.

When is the Best Time to Introduce Bottle to Your Baby?

Breast milk is considered irreplaceable and is the best way to provide nutrition to the baby. For working mothers, it gets nearly impossible to breastfeed their baby; others might suffer from lactation complications.

Hence it is important that after some time, the baby should be bottle-fed so that life for a working mum gets easier and even allows them to entrust the carer. But how can you tell when your baby is ready for bottle-feeding, and what would be the best time for the switch.

All babies are different, just because your friend’s baby has started bottle feeding doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with yours. Most of the times, babies themselves give cues when they are ready for bottle-feeding.

If you notice that your baby is less keen about feeding from your breast and stops nursing it after sucking only a few times, then they are ready for some change. This is the perfect time for you introduce your baby to the bottles.

You can start looking for these cues somewhere around 12 weeks to 10 months after the baby has considerably adapted to breastfeeding.  The key is in staying calm so that the baby remains calms as well.

How to Introduce Bottle to the Baby the First Time

Before switching, make sure you have all the equipment of bottle-feeding with you. To keep the process safe for your baby, cleanliness is important.  Also, make sure to follow the instructions carefully when preparing the feed for your baby.

Moving from Breast to Bottle

Here’s how you should introduce bottle-feed to your baby:

Let others help

Babies can smell and sense their mothers and when they are close to them, they are not interested in bottle-feeding. It’s wiser to let someone else feed the baby for the first few times example dad, grandparents, sister or nanny. This way, the baby will be able to tell the difference more clearly and it will help them to get accustomed to it. After that you can start bottle-feeding your baby.

Be Careful When Buying the Bottle

The nipple of the bottle shouldn’t be very different and foreign to your baby. So, make sure to buy a bottle with a nipple that has a slow-flow and made of the same material as your baby’s pacifier. The sudden sense of familiarity will help the baby adapt quickly and easily and will have little trouble getting accustomed to it even in the beginning.

Don’t Force the Baby

Make sure the baby is willingly putting the nipple in their mouth rather than you forcing it.  This will allow the baby to control when the feed begins. If they are not opening their mouth, gently swipe the nipple across the baby’s lips so that they respond by opening their mouth wide. Never poke the nipple inside the baby’s mouth.

Be Mindful of the Position and the Angle

The baby should be facing you with their head raised up, almost in a sitting position at the time of feeding. Or you can lay them across your chest and tilt the bottle upwards vertically so that the baby gets the milk directly without getting any air.

Make Your Baby Feel More Comfortable

When children transition from breast to bottle, they are changing more than just their feed. In breastfeeding, you are providing skin-to-skin contact and babies love it because they want to be close to their mothers and feel warm and snug.

Whenever it’s feed time, make sure you are close to your baby and holding them. Even when they are older, sitting with your baby when they are feeding will help you maintain a close bond with them.

Do Not Overheat

Avoid overheating the bottle as your baby will be susceptible to burning their mouth. Just put it under warm water for a pleasant temperature that your baby will like.

Trials and Errors

Remember that your child is accustomed to your breast and anything new will make them squeak and squawk. If your baby is finding it hard to adjust to the bottle, then you’ll need to do some work to find different types of bottles and teats with different flows. Some babies prefer a gentler stream of milk, others prefer fast. After several trial and errors, you’ll eventually find a right fit for your baby.

With babies older than nine months, you can even try different kinds of sippy cups to make the transition.

If you are lucky, your baby will move from breast to bottle without giving you any hard time. However, they might want to.

Sometimes the move from breast to bottle works without a hitch (except for few cries of protest and rejecting the bottle) but in some cases it doesn’t. No matter how much you follow all the rules and tricks, it can get challenging!

However, don’t give up. Keep trying, trying and trying until you find the best fit for your baby.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.


Browse other Parenting Guide articles from Nanny Options
or keep up to date with us on Facebook.