Six ways to help baby transition from breast to bottle

So, it’s time for mama to head back to work, and for baby to start spending a few days each week at your local early learning centre or with extended family.

It’s an exciting, worrying, and often emotional time, particularly for those families with a baby who refuses to take a bottle. A breastfed baby that is refusing the bottle probably dislikes the foreign taste and feel of the bottle teat in their mouth, and making the transition from breast to bottle can be overwhelming without some extra support. Here are some tips from the educators at Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure to help with the transition from breast to bottle.

1. Mimic the breastfeeding experience

Mimic the breastfeeding rhythm and flow by encouraging frequent pauses while the baby drinks from the bottle, just like when a mother has periods of let-down. Also remember to switch from one side to the other, as you would when breastfeeding.

2. Hold and cuddle your baby

Whilst breastfeeding, skin-to-skin connection is encouraged, so don’t stop this when feeding your baby a bottle. The contact benefits the baby physically, emotionally, and neurologically.

3. Elevation

Prolonged elevation of prolactin in the attached parent stimulates the opioid system, heightening the rewards for intimate, loving family relationships
(– Linda F. Palmer, DC). Consider a pouch or sling to keep baby close, the warmth and closeness of baby boosts hormones, as well as reducing the stress hormone, cortisol.

4. Interact whilst feeding

Gaze into your baby’s eyes as well as stroking and patting them, interacting with each feature of their face, hands and feet. Feeding for a breastfed baby is a full sensory experience. Mimicking this when bottle feeding makes the experience more fulfilling for both baby and the person feeding.

5. Avoid bottle propping

Instead of propping baby up somewhere in a bouncer or in their cot, pick up your baby and engage in the bottle feeding experience. Educators at Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure take an active role in the experience for all babies in the centre.

6.Hold baby upright

Breastfed babies might find it hard to pace themselves when bottle-feeding, because they’re used to controlling the flow of breastmilk. Sometimes these babies can end up drinking too much too quickly. To help make bottle-feeding more like breastfeeding, hold baby in an upright position and let him/her rest every few minutes.

The transition from breast to bottle can take some time, so try to introduce a bottle at least two weeks before your start date, so you both have time to adjust. For more support in the transition to bottle feeding and introducing your baby to the early learning environment, talk to an experienced educator at your local centre, who can help with the transition.

By the team at Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure

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