Transitioning your baby from breast to bottle, for whatever reason, can be stressful and confusing. You may have read our previous article with Dr Kerry Jeevanthan, also known as Doctomum, in which she shared her top tips for making the transition as smooth as possible. If you’re still struggling, we’ve got some more helpful hints to get you through.
Before you make any changes to the way you feed your baby, you need to select the appropriate bottle to suit your baby’s needs. If you haven’t yet introduced a bottle, consider what this change will be like for your baby. If they have been feeding from mum since birth, they are used to (and comforted) by the breast. And, if they have never had a bottle they will be feeding with their instinctive breastfeeding technique. If you want the comfort and familiarity that can keep your baby calmer when bottle feeding, then you will need to factor in your baby’s instinctive breastfeeding technique. The Minbie offering is that its patented design allows babies to feed with their instinctive breastfeeding technique. If Minbie is the first bottle your baby tries, then your baby will be much more likely to take it because it feels so similar to their previous feeding experiences, saving you the expense and frustration of trying several bottle brands. However, if you’ve already been through a myriad of options and nothing is working, don’t fret. Many parents switch to Minbie after trying a range of other brands and find that they have success.
You should make the feeding environment calm, relaxed and comfortable before starting a feed. Try offering your baby a comfort item too, such as their favourite blanket or stuffed toy to hold while you feed them. You could also wrap the bottle in a scarf or something that smells like mum, especially if dad or somebody else is trying to initiate the feed. Singing your baby’s favourite nursery rhymes or stroking their hair can also soothe them if they are distressed. Should you find that you are offering the bottle in a noisy and busy environment, it is likely to lower your chances of success and increase your anxiety.
If it looks like your baby is becoming anxious and upset when you are introducing the bottle, stop the feeding attempt, calm your baby down and try again later. What you don’t want is for your baby to associate the bottle with feelings of being upset, as this can then lead to regular bottle refusal. It is not a race, and although you may feel pressure to succeed because of returning to work or going away, the best thing for you and your child is to take the pressure off.
If you’ve got plenty of time to transition from breastfeeding, start slowly, you could try offering a bottle at bedtime for example a 5pm dinner (if solids have been introduced) followed by 6pm bath time and PJs, and a 6.30pm bottle of warm milk while you read a story. If your baby learns that this is their set routine every night, they will come to expect and hopefully enjoy their bedtime milk. It is not always practical or possible to maintain a set routine, but if you have the option of implementing one, you may find it works well for your family.
Though many people believe you can only successfully feed your baby with one or the other at a time, it is possible to breast and bottle feed your baby concurrently for as long as you like. Select a good breast pump to support your milk-supply, so that if possible you can use your expressed breast milk when bottle feeding. Although nipple confusion is a hot topic amongst new parents, and a source of much stress, it doesn’t need to be; choosing a Minbie bottle that closely resembles the breastfeeding experience means that you can both bottle AND breastfeed your child for as long as you wish without confusion. This means greater flexibility for you and your family.
Advice is literally everywhere for parents. What works for one may not work for all, so don’t get too caught up in what other parents are doing with their babies. Helpful advice is one thing, but being told what to do is another, so make your own rules. If you want to maintain a breastfeeding relationship with your baby while still bottle feeding on occasion or on certain days, then you can.
For more information on how Minbie bottles can help you lengthen your breastfeeding journey, visit our website here.