How to Give a Breastfed Baby a Bottle in 7 Easy Steps

Giving a baby a bottle may seem like a straightforward process. You simply fill the bottle, put it in the baby’s mouth and hold it there until it’s gone. Easy right?

Actually, nature’s design for feeding infants is more beautifully complex than that. A breastfed baby receives his milk slowly and a little at a time. He is fully in control of when he latches and unlatches and he can change his sucking pattern so that he can comfort nurse without receiving any milk.

Because of this slow and controlled eating pattern, the breastfeed baby perfectly masters portion control at a young age. He becomes very familiar with feelings of hunger versus satiation and he has time to recognize when he is full in order to stop the feeding before he eats too much.

How to give a breastfed baby a bottle in 7 easy steps

On the other hand, when a baby is bottle fed, he has less control over when the nipple is put in his mouth and he cannot control the flow of milk. If he sucks, whether for food or comfort, he will be fed and he may continue to eat past satiation for as long as milk comes out.

This may be part of why a breastfed baby is less likely to be obese in adulthood than a bottle fed baby.

It is also why a baby who is breastfeeding may gulp down a bottle immediately after nursing. This is NOT a sign that the mother has low milk supply but instead a good indicator that baby needs a bit more comfort at the breast. (AND if baby is going through a growth spurt and wanting more milk, the fastest way to boost supply is to continue nursing until baby is satisfied.)

Likewise, the inability to control portion size from a bottle is part of why a breastfed baby may drink much more milk from a bottle than his mother is able to pump for him while she is at work. Unfortunately, if this continues, she may not be able to keep up and will find herself needing to supplement if she wishes to continue working which can further hinder supply.

Therefore, it’s important to try to mimic the breastfeeding process when feeding a breastfed baby a bottle. Not only is this beneficial for the baby because he develops healthy eating habits, it is also vital to the breastfeeding relationship because it protects the mother’s supply and avoids any nipple confusion or preference.

So if you are given the privilege of feeding a breastfed baby a bottle, follow these 7 steps to bottle feeding and you will greatly benefit both the baby and his mama.

How to give a breastfed baby a bottle in 7 easy steps

Step 1: Choose a bottle with a slow flow nipple.

When breastfeeding, a baby has to work to get the milk to flow. The letdown doesn’t happen immediately and milk doesn’t always flow at the same speed. But in a bottle, the flow is regulated by the hole in the nipple. Therefore, choosing the slowest flow will keep him from gulping down the bottle so quickly that he doesn’t have time to recognize feelings of satiation.

Step 2: Put an appropriate amount of milk in the bottle.

The average baby eats about 25-30 ounces a day and feeds between 8-12 times. That means the average baby eats anywhere from 2-3.75 ounces per feeding. Therefore, this is an appropriate amount of milk to put in a breastfed baby’s bottle. Putting more than that in at one time may lead to overfeeding.

Step 3: Hold the baby upright.

It’s important to hold the baby in an upright position rather than holding him flat on his back. This way, he has more control of how much milk goes into his mouth because he has to work against gravity to get it there.

Is breastfeeding an effective form of birth control??? The answer is YES, IF you follow these 7 principles. Click the image to learn more

Step 4: Let the baby draw the nipple into his mouth.

Hold the nipple to the baby’s lips but then let him open his mouth and draw the nipple in. Do not push the nipple into the baby’s mouth uninvited. This gives the baby a say as to whether he is ready for a feed or not.

Step 5: Hold the bottle horizontally.

Much like holding the baby upright, it is also important to hold the bottle horizontally rather than vertically. This slows the flow of milk and gives the baby greater control.

Step 6: Pause the feeding every minute or two.

After baby has taken a couple sucks and swallows, lower the bottle a bit so he can take a break from eating. In doing this, the baby consumes the appropriate amount of milk (2-4 ounces) in the same amount of time that a breastfeeding session typically lasts (10-15 minutes). Once again, this gives the baby a chance to recognize feelings of satiation and stop the feeding before he gets overfull.

Step 7: Let the baby decide when he’s done.

Finally, it’s so important to let the baby be in charge of when to stop eating. If he falls asleep and stops sucking or let’s the nipple fall out of his mouth, let him be finished. While it may be so tempting to encourage him to eat the last ounce in the bottle, remember that he is practicing portion control which will have lifelong benefits for him.

So whether you’re a dad, a grandparent, a family member, a daycare worker, or just someone lucky enough to hang out with a baby, be encouraged that in feeding him this way you are allowing him to eat in a healthy manner that not only benefits him but also protects his breastfeeding relationship with his mother. That is truly something to strive for and celebrate.

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Why I Breastfeed in Public

Here’s the thing: I value modesty. You won’t catch me in a super low cut shirt because I prefer not to show cleavage to the whole world and it’s important to me to dress in a way that is respectful of those around me.

But I also value breastfeeding. It’s the number one tool in my motherhood toolbox. My babies nurse around the clock whenever they’re hungry, thirsty, overwhelmed, tired, in pain, sick or scared and that’s totally cool with me.

When I had my first child, I had no idea how to reconcile these two values when I was in public. On the one hand, I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of being at all exposed and on the other hand, I felt helpless as a mom because my go-to trick was unavailable. It was the middle of the summer and the thought of using a cover was unbearable for both me and my sweaty baby so I mostly spent my time frantically searching for private rooms or bathrooms to feed her in.

Fortunately, by the time I got pregnant with my second daughter, I had learned how to discreetly nurse in public using the “two shirt method” and a full repertoire of nursing friendly clothing.

Secondly, I had invested in a couple great nursing covers for those situations where I just felt better fully covered.

And finally, I had also become a doula and I learned so much about the many struggles new moms face with postpartum and breastfeeding. It is always my goal to do my part in making this transition easier for women.

So even though I still try to be as modest as possible, I feel strongly that I should be breastfeeding in public. Here’s 4 reasons why.

1. Because Seeing Someone Breastfeed is the Best Way to Learn How

Our culture struggles with breastfeeding. At this point, most women attempt to breastfeed but many do not continue past the first few weeks or months. A good latch is hard for us and countless women worry about their supply.

Part of the reason for this difficulty is that most girls grow up without ever having seen someone nurse a baby. In general, we don’t know what a good latch or a comfortable position or modest breastfeeding looks like because we’ve never seen it. And we’ve certainly never seen a woman nurse while cooking or putting on makeup or playing mini golf or whatever else her day may bring.

Consequently, breastfeeding remains a mystery and it feels too hard to master.

This is the first reason I feel it’s important to nurse my baby in front of other women and girls. I want them to know that breastfeeding can be comfortable, it can be enjoyable, and it is possible to live life while doing it. When they can see that this is true with their own eyes, they’re more likely to have confidence when it’s their turn to nurse a baby.

Breastfeeding in a minivan is all too common because breastfeeding in public is difficult, inconvenient, or shamed upon.
Breastfeeding in a minivan is all too common. Also notice how I can nurse without actually exposing anything. It is totally possible to nurse modestly in public. 🙌🏾

2. Because Something So Good Should be Normalized and Easily Accessible

Breastfeeding has tons of benefits. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to be obese, breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop breast cancer and the immunity factors in breast milk change depending on what germs are around so it’s always the perfect medicine for the baby. I could go on and on about all of that but the point is, breastfeeding is so good and healthy for all involved.

Why then do we have to make it so hard for women to nurse their babies?

We need to make a change. We need to welcome and encourage the breastfeeding mother. We need to accept the fact that breasts were created for nurturing babies and allow them to fulfill that purpose.

When I breastfeed in public, I am helping the world around me to get comfortable with something that always has been and always will be a beneficial aspect of raising the next generation.

3. Because Feeding in a Bathroom is Gross

It’s true, sitting on a toilet in a public bathroom while nursing a tiny child isn’t sanitary, comfortable, or necessary.

Can we all just stop pretending that this is a good option for breastfeeding moms?

I did this with my first baby but honestly, this is where I draw the line this time around.

Is breastfeeding an effective form of birth control?? The answer is YES, IF you follow these rules.Is breastfeeding an effective form of birth control? The answer is YES, IF you follow these 7 principles. Click the image to find out more.

4. To Empower the Isolated Mom

This last reason is probably the most important and what really drives the need to breastfeed in public home for me. There are too many new moms out there who don’t want to leave their houses because finding a private place to nurse their baby is too difficult (and a public restroom is too gross).

As a result, they end up feeling trapped and alone in their home.

Or there may be moms who do go to social gatherings but they wind up breastfeeding alone in someone else’s bedroom and their heart aches because they are missing out on conversation and festivities with their loved ones.

Both of these situations leave new moms feeling isolated which is extremely important to note because isolation and Postpartum Depression go hand in hand.

As a society, we must make it easier for women and babies to get out of the house and this starts by getting comfortable with breastfeeding.

So I’ve resolved that I have to do my part. If just one woman sees me nursing my baby in public and this helps her feel more confident in leaving her home, getting fresh air, and feeding her baby then it’s worth it to me.

The bottom line is this: both breastfeeding and the entire postpartum period are down right hard. But for so many reasons, not being able to feed a baby in public just makes it harder.

So as a doula, a breastfeeding advocate, and a woman, I know now that it is my responsibility to nurse in public in support of my fellow moms and I hope that others will do the same ❤️

4 Reasons Why I Breastfeed in Public

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Ecological Breastfeeding: 7 Principles of Natural Child Spacing

Is breastfeeding an effective form of contraception? Ask ten different moms and you will get ten different answers. This is simply because everybody is different and responds to changing hormones differently. However, “exclusive breastfeeding” and “ecological breastfeeding” are not the same and while “exclusive breastfeeding” works for many moms, “ecological breastfeeding” is much more effective.

Ecological Breastfeeding is essentially a lifestyle of mothering and is guided by 7 principles. It’s not for everyone and that’s ok. I am in no way implying that it is the best way to mother. However, for parents who are interested in natural child spacing and who are comfortable with breastfeeding and attachment style parenting, these principles may be all the validation they need to mother in a way that comes instinctually to them.

The statistics and principles I’m presenting can be found at the Natural Family Planning website and for more detailed information on the topic check out Sheila Kippley’s book “The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.”

How effective is ecological breastfeeding you may ask? During the first three months of baby’s life, an ecologically breastfeeding mother has a (next to) zero percent chance of getting pregnant if she has not had a period and her chances of getting pregnant in the first 6 months go up to 1%. After the first 6 months her chances rise to 6% even if she has yet to have a period BUT if she also practices the Fertility Awareness Method, her chance of getting pregnant remains at 1%. (For information regarding my Fertility Awareness Course click here.) Around 70% of ecologically breastfeeding moms will get their first period between 9 and 20 months postpartum with the average being 14.6 months. Of course, statistics can never accurately predict what will happen to an individual and I’m sure there are plenty of moms who don’t follow all 7 principles of ecological breastfeeding and still went an extended amount of time without a cycle. Likewise, there are other moms who do follow all 7 principles and had their first period earlier than they wanted. Nevertheless, ecological breastfeeding is certainly worth a try.

So let’s dig into these principles, shall we?

1) Give your baby breastmilk exclusively for the first six months of life. No water, formula, cereal etc. After baby turns 6 months, breast milk is still the main aspect of baby’s diet and baby is still breastfed completely on demand even as other foods are introduced.

These are the rules for “exclusively breastfeeding” and many mothers are told this will be sufficient for avoiding pregnancy. While many moms are successful with this alone, there are plenty more who begin menstruating again 1-2 months postpartum and they think breastfeeding failed them. However, this is only the first principle of ecological breastfeeding so let’s keep going.

2) Comfort your baby at your breast.

How many times have nursing mothers been told “he’s just using you as a pacifier”? Or “your baby isn’t actually hungry, you shouldn’t keep nursing”? Here’s the thing, newborns cry often. They’re in a new, big, scary world and all they know is the comfort of being close to their mamas. Breastfeeding produces oxytocin which helps both mom and baby manage stress and calm down. So don’t be surprised when breastfeeding is the easiest way to make your baby stop crying. It’s normal, it’s natural and you can take advantage of it. Not only does it soothe your baby, but it boosts your milk supply and is your second step to preventing pregnancy naturally.

3) Don’t use bottles or pacifiers.

Because breastfeeding is so good at soothing babies, breasts are the ultimate pacifier. Remember, pacifiers we’re a human invention designed to replace the breast, so saying a baby is “using the breast as a pacifier” is backwards. Instead, we should say the baby is “using the pacifier as a breast.” Babies who are nursed for comfort often need that comfort less than babies who rely on pacifiers so I promise you won’t be latched 24/7.

Now about those bottles, the invention of a breast pump is awesome and has allowed many babies to get the breast milk they need and I highly admire dedicated, pumping mamas. But many moms who pump frequently find their fertility returns much quicker than those who mostly nurse because our bodies don’t have the same hormonal response to a breast pump as we do to a sweet, suckling baby. So if you don’t have to pump, don’t.

4) Sleep with your baby for night feedings.

Night feedings are important not only for your baby’s health and development, but also for keeping menstruation at bay. Once your baby starts consistently sleeping more than 6 hour stretches, you are likely to see a return of fertility. While this may seem like an unfair predicament, one way to work around it is to sleep next to your baby. This way, you are literally able to sleep and nurse at the same time. Baby is soothed and nourished and you never even had to get out of bed. I promise it’s a dream and it often insures that you will only have one baby at a time requiring this much attention.

5) Sleep with your baby for a daily nap feeding.

Ok I will be honest, if I could delete one rule, it would be this one and truthfully I didn’t do this most of the time. But how many of us have had the issue of baby waking from her nap as soon as we unlatched her?? Even though it’s incredibly frustrating it is so unbelievably normal. It’s just what babies do. And if we’re being honest, how many new moms truly do need a nap in the middle of the day but we’re too stressed to take one? I think many of us. So if you need an excuse to just latch that baby and fall asleep, this is it: natural child spacing!

6) Nurse frequently, day and night, and avoid schedules.

When babies are very young, it feels like they want to nurse constantly. Many moms feel nervous that either they aren’t making enough milk or that they’re over feeding their infant. However, the first option is unlikely and the second option is impossible. Breastfeeding works in a simple supply and demand system. So the more you allow your baby to nurse, the more milk your body will make. Newborns will often cluster feed just before a growth spurt so that your body knows to make more milk for your soon-to-be bigger baby. It’s an amazing cycle IF we let our babies guide the process. They know when they need to nurse so when we try to schedule feedings, we miss out on the natural process. And furthermore, remember that babies don’t just nurse for calories. Breast milk satisfies thirst, it’s comforting, and it helps them poop, wind down, and sleep. So keep on nursing mamas, a break from menstruation is so rewarding.

7) Avoid any practice that restricts nursing or separates you from your baby.

This final principle reiterates much of what we’ve already covered. Going back to work full time, sleep training, or supplementing with formula can all have an effect on your body and allow you to ovulate again. So while those are extremely personal decisions and there is no right choice, it is important to know that you may not be able to use breastfeeding as effective contraception if you choose to cut back on nursing.

Remember that the return of your fertility is not a terrible thing. It’s simply your body’s way of noticing that your first baby doesn’t need as many of your extra calories anymore so you could physically handle another baby. But if you know you aren’t ready for another one either emotionally, financially, or situationally, these 7 principles can guide you along without ever having to touch hormonal birth control. Combine it with the power of the Fertility Awareness Method and you’ve got a strong chance of avoiding pregnancy. So sweet mamas, just keep on nursing!

❤️

Did you practice ecological breastfeeding? How many months did you go before you had a return of fertility?