From Breast to Bottle: Nipple Confusion and How To Help

From Breast to Bottle: Nipple Confusion and How To Help

When I gave birth to my daughter, she had some moments of fussiness, even after I’d fed and changed her. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, and something told me she just needed to be soothed. I asked the nurses for a pacifier. After all, I’d seen many pictures of new mothers in their hospital, their newborns sleeping happily in their arms with a pacifier in their mouths. The nurses said they didn’t recommend it but didn’t explain why. During our stay, we pushed for one again and a gracious nurse finally explained why they don’t encourage moms to give their newborns pacifiers. It actually creates something called nipple confusion for breastfed babies. I was very determined to exclusively breastfeed my baby, and because of that, I was so happy the nurses continually refused to give us a pacifier. Some babies have trouble going from breast to bottle to pacifier and back to breast. However, all moms need a break! If you choose to pump and give a bottle once in a while, or to switch to formula, you will need to ease your infant into it.

Don’t wait too long to offer a bottle. It is recommended that you wait at least two weeks before introducing a bottle if you’re nursing so that breastfeeding is fully established. However, it is said that waiting longer than six weeks to try a bottle can be too late, and the baby may refuse the bottle altogether.

Offer a pacifier. It doesn’t guarantee an easy transition, but it could help your baby become accustomed to sucking on the silicone.

Choose a wide nipple and try a few different brands of bottles. It’s important for the bottle nipple to closely resemble your breast or nipple. Also, some babies are very particular, so you may have to try a few different brands of bottles before you find one that your baby likes.

Choose a slow flow or preemie nipple. If the milk comes out too fast, your baby can get distressed or just turned off. Be on the lookout for gasping or eyes open wide. Not only will your baby be annoyed if the milk comes too fast, they will become lazy when they go back to your breast. They learn to work hard to suck the milk from your breast, so be sure to choose a bottle nipple that has a similar flow. On the other hand, if you have a fast letdown, choose a slightly more advanced bottle nipple.

Let your baby root. Rooting is when the baby turns his or her head toward a nipple when it brushes against their upper lip or cheek. Lactation consultants encourage mothers to brush their baby’s lips with their nipples and wait for them to open their mouths wide, like a yawn, before quickly inserting as much of the nipple into their baby’s mouth as possible. This is the correct way to bresatfeed and can prevent or ease discomfort for the mothers. When using a bottle, let them root for the nipple in the same way. Don’t shove the nipple in their mouth.

Let your baby dictate when she’s finished her meal. Don’t force him or her to finish a bottle even if there’s just a little bit left. When they nurse, babies know when they’re full and naturally stop nursing, fall asleep or pull off the breast. Allow your baby to give you the same cues to let you know he or she is done eating.

Whether you choose to give your little one a bottle once in a while to give yourself a break, because you have to go back to work, for medical reasons, or you just don’t want to breastfeed, patiently follow these helpful tips to ease the transition from breast to bottle.

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