From Breast to Bottle: 5 Transition Tips

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Whether you’re thinking of transitioning to bottle completely, or just want it to supplement your own milk, introducing or altering your baby’s method of feeding can be difficult and somewhat stressful. Finding out what’s right for you and your baby can take a few attempts, but with these five tips, you’ll soon be able to master the transition.

Timing is everything. When attempting to transition your baby from breast to bottle, it’s important not to try and introduce the bottle when your baby is hungry. Instead, try it an hour or two after its feed, to make sure the baby doesn’t get too stressed out that they’ve not got your breast.

Try before you buy. Sampling is a great method for first introducing bottles into your baby’s feeding. Don’t worry, I don’t mean you have to sample the milk! If you’re pumping, try and put a few drops of your milk on your baby’s lips or on your finger for them to suck on. This will give them a taste of what they’re about to get and perhaps be more likely to try the bottle. If you’re transitioning from breast milk to formula, try and mix them together and slowly decrease the ratio of breast milk to formula.

Be prepared. The right equipment is essential to get a seamless transition. It may take a few attempts with different bottles or nipple shapes for baby to get the hang of it. Be aware of the types of nipples such as anti-colic, as well as the size of the nipple hole. Too large and your baby will gag on the amount of milk they’ve gulped, too small and it may be too difficult for them to draw out the liquid and make them not want to feed, from getting too stressed.

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Let your baby take the lead. Watch your baby when feeding and whilst you’re trying to transition. If things aren’t going well, it’s completely fine to stop and try again later after your baby has calmed down. Let them guide you on when to stop, start and take a break, just as you would do with breastfeeding. This will help them realise that bottle means food, just as breast does.

Don’t rush it. To make the transition super easy, it’s important to take your time. Your baby might not warm to it the first time, both bottle feeding and breastfeeding is a time of bonding for you and your baby, a chance to relax, cuddle and rest. If you’re trying to stop breastfeeding, try supplementing your milk with formula and sit back and relax, ready to try the transition. Keep lots of skin and eye contact as you did when you started breastfeeding and give lots of affection and love.

If you’re still struggling with bottle feeding, don’t be afraid to enlist some help. Whether it’s from a healthcare professional to help guide you or help from your partner, a grandparent or a friend who can offer the bottle to get baby interested, it may be your smell or familiarity that puts baby off feeding from anything but your breast. Don’t worry, they’ll get there in the end!

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