There are many situations where you might want to offer a bottle to your baby instead of the breast.
When I was looking into mixed feeding there were lots of different schools of thought about it, including some who said a bottle should not come anywhere near your baby until they are at least eight weeks old and well established on breastfeeding.
Both of my babies were on the breast and bottle as part of their daily feeding at some point during their first few months.
With my first baby she never got the hang of breastfeeding. I didn’t get enough help with perfecting the latch and she quickly showed her preference for the bottle.
With my second baby, it was kind of the opposite and she wasn’t too keen on bottles at first.
I believe there are loads of benefits to being able to give your baby a bottle every now and then, including:
Giving you a break.
If you are returning to work soon after giving birth.
If you have a wedding where babies are not invited.
If you are unwell.
I think there is a happy medium that you can find to getting your breastfed baby on a bottle and still continue breastfeeding for as long as you want, just follow these simple steps:
Think about how a bottle will fit into your routine
The bottle does not have to be at the exact same time of day every single day.
However you may want to offer it as a dream feed that enables your other half to take a turn with feeding, and gives you a chance to rest.
I gave my second child a bottle when it was convenient. This could be when I needed a nap in the afternoon or if my husband was taking a turn putting her to bed.
Think about how many bottles you want to give per day and how you would like this to fit into the day.
Express your breastmilk
Get yourself a decent pump, I love this one, and practice expressing. Some people can get loads of milk by pumping and others really struggle, don’t take this as a sign that your milk supply is low.
If your baby is growing and producing plenty of daily wet and dirty nappies then your supply is good. Some boobies just don’t respond so well to the pump! You can try nursing on one boob and pumping the other as the baby will help stimulate your letdown.
Try to build a little supply in the fridge, where milk keeps for five days, and in the freezer, where you can store breastmilk for six months.
Formula is OK too!
Don’t forget that you don’t have to express, you could mix feed with formula.
There’s still a lot of pressure to exclusively breastfeed and studies are always saying that breastfed babies are smarter and healthier. While I agree breastmilk is amazing, there is nothing wrong with adding formula to your routine if that’s what will be easier for you.
Both of my kids were on some formula from just a few days old and they are both super healthy and happy kids.
Offer the bottle to your baby
Don’t forget to fully thaw milk before offering it to your baby if you’re taking it our of the freezer. If you’re warming it, don’t microwave it as this can produce hotspots in the bottle and burn baby’s mouth.
Instead get a bowl of hot water, and pop the bottle of milk in there for a minute or so.
Continue putting your baby to your breasts regularly
Mixed feeding does work and it doesn’t have to kill your supply! You need to keep putting your baby to your breasts regularly though, and by that I mean at spaced intervals throughout the day, not just randomly every few days. Your supply will dry up.
When I was mixed feeding my second and she had gotten into a vague routine of seven breastfeeds a day, I would feed her from me for six of those and give her one bottle.
When you start is up to you
Most of the advice I read said to wait until after eight weeks to introduce a bottle. Well I couldn’t wait that long as I was totally burned out after just one week with my second baby.
But she took to the bottle well after a few tries and she continued to breastfeed from me until seven months.
In my opinion your baby won’t reject the breast as long as you continue to be consistent with offering it to them.
Try different bottles
My second baby wasn’t a fan of the Dr Brown’s bottles at all. But she took to the Medela simple teats and continued drinking from those until seven months.
The colic-busting bottles may look impressive, but we had no problems with the less fancy teats in our house.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that fed is best!
If you have any questions, just drop me a message or leave a comment below.