How to Wean Your Baby: Tips for Transitioning from Breast to Bottle Feeding
When it comes time to break out the bottle, every breastfed baby will react differently with some sucking away immediately with no fuss while others struggle with the change in feeding methods. But moms can rest assured that there are some tried and true techniques for a smoother transition. If you and your baby are encountering a difficult time with bottle feeding, try the following tips:
Most lactation experts advise waiting until your baby is at least a month old and has mastered the art of breastfeeding to avoid nipple confusion which occurs when switching from breast to bottle prevents him/her from establishing a secure latch. Newborns need a few weeks to develop the required facial muscles for efficient feeding and sucking milk from a bottle engages different mouth and tongue movements. Because they are trying to learn a new feeding skill, it is important to introduce a bottle a few hours following a breastfeeding session so that they are hungry but not starving and cranky. Choosing a time when your little one is relaxed will also help facilitate this process.
2. Experiment like Goldilocks
Trying out different bottles can be expensive, so most experts advise experimenting with a variety of nipples, considering the shape, the flow, and the material to find the ones that work best for your baby. For most breastfed babies, teats that mimic the natural shape of the breast are preferred and silicone will offer a more skin-like texture. Also, be sure to initially choose a slow flow nipple since it most resembles a breast in that your baby has to work harder to increase the flow of milk.
3. Offer Variety
Try changing the bottle contents from breast milk to different formulas to see what your baby likes. Additionally, experiment with different temperatures since some babies prefer warm milk while others prefer cold. You may see that your baby also reacts differently between given fresh milk and frozen milk. Avoid using a microwave to heat a bottle as you may end up with uneven temperatures and hot spots. Instead, use a bottle warmer or a bowl of hot water.
Above all else, be sure that your baby gets the same one-on-one, nurturing and affectionate time with you during bottle feeding as he/she did with breastfeeding. The intimacy associated with breastfeeding is what moms and babies miss the most when nursing ends. So be sure along this weaning journey to shower your little one with lots of love and attention.