The style of bottle feeding currently being used has been associated with various increased risks, including overfeeding - which can lead to other problems and colic like symptoms. For these reasons Health Professionals now promote the new Paced Responsive Feeding Technique, which is extremely simple and has various benefits:
- It avoids overfeeding which can potentially cause obesity later in life
- It makes switching between breast and bottle easier and can reduce air intake, a potential cause of colic
- Improves bonding and attachment between you and your little one whilst using a feeding bottle
- Improves baby’s hand eye co-ordination and enhances eye development
Using the Paced Feeding Technique
Focus on breastfeeding first
In the first few weeks after birth you should focus on establishing a good nursing relationship and milk supply through regular breastfeeding. Once breastfeeding is well established, perhaps around weeks six to eight, you may consider expressing breastmilk and introducing a bottle.
Relax: offer, don't push!
The bottle should be introduced in a ‘stress-free’ manner. Your baby should be invited to draw the bottle teat into its mouth; it should never be forced. You could try stroking the bottle teat against the infant’s cheek, then lips. When the teat enters the mouth, the teat should be angled slightly upward, toward the roof of the mouth rather than pushing the teat against the tongue. If your baby resists or cries, you should take a break or try again later. It’s important to avoid creating a struggle and reinforcing a negative association with bottle feeding.
Offering the very first bottle
When offering a breastfed baby its first bottle, start with just 30ml (1fl.oz) of expressed breast milk. In this way you will not worry about wasting precious breast milk if the baby rejects the bottle. If your little one finishes the milk and wants more, offer another 30ml. Once he/she seems comfortable with the bottle feeding process, gradually increase the volume in 15ml increments.
Helping your baby adjust to the bottle
Some babies will easily take a bottle the first time it’s offered to them, others require more time to become comfortable with accepting a very new way to eat. You should always stay patient, calm, positive and consistent – this is a new skill for your baby. Some infants are more willing to drink from a bottle when drowsy or when not frantically hungry and you may find this an ideal first time to introduce a bottle of expressed breast milk.
Beware of the bottle feeding holiday
One of the biggest anxieties for a mother as her return to work date approaches is the baby will not take a bottle. It should not be assumed that because your baby drank from a bottle once, many weeks ago, the skill will be retained indefinitely. This skill needs to be kept familiar and you should avoid a bottle feeding ‘holiday’ (i.e. five to seven days without a practice bottle). Some babies will do fine with a rare or occasional bottle, but other babies, even those who had previously taken a bottle readily, will refuse when the bottle is re-introduced after a holiday. Once the bottle has been introduced it should be kept familiar. Every other day, or about three of four bottles a week, is usually enough to do so. If a full feed with a bottle isn’t needed, just 30ml is enough to keep the practice familiar.
Paced Responsive Feeding positions
Family members and caregivers should be encouraged to bottle feed with close physical contact, changing positions several times throughout the feed and pausing often to interact with the baby. Your baby should be bottle fed in a semi upright position with the bottle teat almost horizontal (though filled with milk). This allows your baby to better control the flow and avoid being overwhelmed by too much milk. In the typical ‘reclined and cradled’ bottle feeding position, the bottle milk will flow faster by gravity and your baby will need to drink faster in order to keep up with the flow. A more upright position will help pace the feeding. If your baby pauses to rest or take a deeper breath, this is a cue for the caregiver to remove the bottle, talk or to burp him/her, or take a little break from bottle feeding. There is no need to pull the bottle away from your baby if it’s actively sucking happily just because it’s been 5 minutes or 30ml. Instead, wait for a natural pause to remove the bottle for a break, engage with eye contact, interaction or a burp. Remind caregivers to never prop a bottle – this can lead to choking or aspiration of milk. Your baby deserves physical and social interaction during feeding. This technique with Lansinoh’s new concept Pump, Store, Feed & Care, helping you breastfeed for longer.