How to bottle feed breastfed babies

How to bottle feed breastfed babies
How to bottle feed breastfed babies

When can you start giving your expressed breast milk to your baby? What is the best way to do it? Should you be concerned about “breast/pacifier confusion”? We answer your questions about feeding expressed milk.

How to bottle feed breastfed babies

When should I start giving expressed milk to my baby?

If your baby is in good health and breastfeeding is going well, there is no need to rush to feed him expressed milk. For the first four weeks, you work together to initiate and develop your milk supply while your baby learns to suckle effectively. Although there is little data on the subject, It is thought that unnecessary introduction of the bottle during this first primordial month could interfere with these processes.

If, however, for any reason, your newborn has difficulty latching or sucking, start expressing your milk as soon as possible after birth. Check out our articles on how to overcome problems in the first week and how to breastfeed your premature baby or infant with special needs for additional advice, as well as help from health professionals.

How do I give expressed breast milk to my baby?

There is a whole range of feeding solutions specially designed to allow you to give expressed milk to your baby, according to your needs and those of your baby.

For example,   Medela’s innovative Calma feeding nozzle allows milk to flow only when babies create a vacuum while nursing. Thanks to him, babies can feed on the bottle with the same tongue and jaw movements as they do at the breast. Developed with breastfeeding experts from the University of Western Australia, Calma allows your baby to suck, swallow, take breaks and breathe just like he would with breastfeeding. By preserving the natural sucking behavior of babies, Calma is designed to facilitate the passage from breast to bottle and vice versa.

Medela also designs teats for traditional baby bottles in two flow versions. And all of our teats can be attached directly to the bottles in which you express your milk, thus minimizing any risk of wastage.

If your newborn baby needs expressed milk, but you do not want to bottle feed him until he is used to breastfeeding, you can use a baby cup designed for the short term. This allows your baby to drink or milk your expressed milk, but watch out for milk loss! It is best to have a healthcare professional available the first time you use the baby cup to make sure things are going well.

For babies who need to be supplemented with expressed milk in addition to regular breastfeeding, an Supplemental Nutrition System (SNS) may be helpful. It is a thin, flexible feeding tube that can be attached next to your nipple to give expressed milk to your baby when you are breastfeeding. This system allows your baby to stay longer at the breast, which stimulates your breasts more to maintain your milk production and improve your baby’s breastfeeding skills. It can be useful for mothers who have little milk, have adopted, or surrogate mothers.

If your baby is unable to create the suction needed to suckle (due to a disability, congenital illness or weakness), you can try a bottle-mug designed for babies with special needs. It allows infants unable to suckle to eat thanks to a slight compression.


What is the best way to introduce the bottle?

If breastfeeding is going well and you decide it’s time to give your baby a bottle of expressed milk, follow these tips:

Take your time

Do not wait for a major outing one evening or your return to work to introduce the bottle into your baby’s diet. Start with a small amount of expressed, pressureless and restrained milk a few weeks beforehand. Gradually increase the quantities until you give him a whole bottle feeding.

Choose the moment

Ideally, your breastfed baby should be alert, but not too hungry, the first time he takes a bottle of expressed milk, so that he is as relaxed as possible.

Ask others to give the bottle

Being used to your breast, your baby may be confused or frustrated when you offer him a bottle. It may be easier to have someone else give the first bottle and stay in another room so your baby can’t see or smell you.

Neither too hot nor too cold

Your baby will more easily accept milk expressed at a temperature close to body temperature, i.e. 37 ° C (98.6 ° F).

Smell and taste

Try to soak the bottle teat in expressed milk before offering it to your baby so that it tastes and smells like breast milk. Then lightly stimulate your baby’s upper lip with the pacifier to encourage him to open his mouth.

Position to give the bottle

Feed your baby on demand and hold him in your arms in a semi-vertical position. Never give him a bottle when he is lying on his back and do not wedge your baby with the bottle in his mouth to prevent him from choking. Go at their own pace and take all the breaks your baby needs, you can even change sides during the session.

be patient

Do not worry if your baby does not take the bottle right away, several tests may be necessary. If it pushes the bottle back or gets upset, comfort it and wait a few minutes before trying again. If he still does not take the bottle, wait a few more minutes and then start breastfeeding him as usual. Try to offer him the bottle at another time of the day.

How much expressed milk should I give my baby?

Each baby is different. Some research shows that babies aged one to six months do not take all the same amount of milk as a baby can drink 50 ml per feeding, another up to 230 ml. Start by preparing a bottle of about 60 ml and see if your baby needs more or less milk. You will quickly get used to the quantities of milk he takes, but never force him to finish the bottle. 

How do I make sure bottle feeding is safe for my baby?

Always clean and disinfect your breast pump set and bottles according to the instructions, and wash your hands before expressing, handling your milk or when giving milk to your baby. Follow our advice for safe storage and defrosting of your expressed milk.

If you warm your breast milk, place the bottle or sachet in a bowl of hot water or in a bottle warmer, or pass it under hot water (max. 37 ° C or 98.6 ° F). Never reheat breast milk in the microwave or in a saucepan.

Will my baby be able to manage the transition from breast to bottle?

Mothers often worry that if they put the bottle on too early, their baby will get used to the artificial pacifier and find it difficult to breastfeed. On the contrary, others worry that their baby will never accept the artificial pacifier if he does not start the bottle early enough. These two problems are generally called “breast / pacifier confusion”.

Experts disagree that breast / pacifier confusion is really a problem. 1 It is certain that sucking a traditional bottle nipple does not require the creation of a vacuum and therefore requires less effort for a baby than sucking on the mother’s nipple, because the milk flows more freely , in part due to gravity. Apparently, some babies have a preference for the breast or the bottle and never adapt to the other method, but most switch easily from one method to another. 

If you’re still having trouble giving expressed breast milk to your baby, see a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist.

Read also: How to bottle feed a newborn when you can’t give him breast milk