When is the right time to start your baby on the bottle? No doubt you have heard conflicting views on when is the right time. Even medical professionals differ in their views. So how do you settle on the right time? First assessing your circumstances, the needs of your family and the needs of your baby. Then lastly is to trust yourself: No one knows your needs better than you do.
Megan shared her story of when she introduced a bottle to her son Charley. Here she said: “Charley has been using Minbie bottles since he was around a week old. It was always my intention to do a bit of combination feeding mainly so that my husband can help me with one of the night feeds. But, also so that it got Charley used to a bottle so that eventually when I wanted to move away from breastfeeding I would be able to and he would accept it. Charley has been fantastic at using both. Ever since he started with Minbie he has breastfed really, really effectively and really well at the same time and is accepting bottles. He has never ever refused a Minbie bottle. He makes very, very limited to no mess; has no problems with wind, colic or reflux.”
There are four key things to take away from what Megan shared:
- She decided when to start her baby on a bottle
- Charley breast and bottle feed well
- The bottle she uses has helped her son with his breastfeeding
- Charley does not have problems with wind, colic or reflux
One of the major reasons why parents are advised not to start bottle feeding too early is the risk of nipple confusion or bottle preference. These are genuine threats in the early stages of establishing breastfeeding. It can also result in low milk supply. There are ways to preventing these from happening. Let’s go a little more into nipple confusion and how this can be prevented?
How to prevent nipple confusion
- Ensure that you choose a teat that allows your baby to latch with the same technique as the one used on the breast. A proper direct latch onto the breast with the nipple positioned in the roof of the baby’s mouth in such as way that both mum and baby are comfortable and the milk flow is adequate.
- The flow from the bottle should be at a pace the baby can control and the feeding motion needs to be the same as a baby should use when breastfeeding.
When the above steps are taken it minimises the risk of nipple confusion. The other danger to breastfeeding successfully and combination feeding is low milk supply. What can you do to keep up your milk supply?
How to maintain a healthy milk supply
Having a balanced nutritious diet —your body will naturally do its best to provide the nutrition your baby needs via breast milk. But a poor diet will wear you down and can eventually affect your milk supply. Thus the need for eating right the UCSF Children’s Hospital provides a list of nutrition tips for breastfeeding mothers.
Drink plenty of water —dehydration is a definite no while breastfeeding. Dehydration can result in reduced milk supply, so make sure you drink regularly throughout the day. Having a glass of water nearby when you are breastfeeding is a good idea. The amount of water consumed varies depending on the climate and level of physical activity of the mum.
Do some gentle exercise —gentle exercise keeps you fit and healthy, which in turn protects your milk supply. Don’t go overboard though - if you do too much strenuous activity it can inhibit your milk production.
Sleep when you can —adequate sleep may not always be possible but try to get as much as you can as this supports good milk production. Napping when your little one naps is a good practice
Stress is the enemy —try as best as possible to limit the amount of stress in your environment. It may not always be possible but just do the best you can.
This is where we close for now but remember you are the one who should decide what is best for you and your family. No one can love your baby more than you.