Whether you’re breastfeeding, formula-feeding or opting for a combination, you’ll most likely use a bottle to feed your infant at some point. Navigating bottle feeding comes with its own set of challenges, from nipple confusion to bottle rejection. But don’t fret, we’ve got you covered. In this post, let’s explore the most common bottle feeding issues that new parents encounter, plus tips on how to overcome them.
1. My baby is having difficulties switching between breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
Nipple confusion occurs when an infant is having problems switching from the breast to a bottle and back again. Newborns tend to realise pretty quickly that compared to breastfeeding, bottles require less effort to obtain milk, leading them to prefer the bottle. This is because bottle nipples are firmer and less challenging to latch onto, and unlike nursing, the milk flow from bottles is faster and more consistent than the breast. Check out our tips below for a smoother transition between these feeding methods.
- Introduce the bottle at the right time: The ideal moment to introduce the bottle to your baby is typically around the three-week mark after you’ve begun breastfeeding. This allows enough time for you to establish your milk supply and for your infant to practise nursing at the breast without becoming overly attached to it.
- Try paced bottle feeding: Paced bottle feeding can help to prevent nipple confusion and reduce gas buildup, which may lead to colic. It also eases breast-bottle-breast transition by allowing your baby to have more control over the feeding pace. Start with a small milk bottle with a wide-base, extra slow or slow-flow teat – Hegen feeding bottles feature a velvety soft, elliptical shaped teat that mimics a mum’s lactating breast, so your baby can use a gentle suckling motion instead of directly sucking to obtain milk, which encourages a natural latch-on experience. Check out our guide to paced bottle feeding here.
2. My baby refuses to drink from the bottle.Feeding a baby that is refusing the bottle can be exasperating. To complicate matters, finding the root cause for bottle rejection can be tricky. There are many reasons for their reluctance, such as hunger level, timing, ordissatisfaction with milk temperature or simply a growth spurt! Regardless of the cause, it’s important to stay calm and patient while you figure out what’s going on. Here are a few tips to ease your baby back into enjoying their bottle.
- Evaluate your feeding routine: If your baby refuses the bottle, it could be because they’re simply not hungry. Keep track of when they are rejecting it, as their appetite may fluctuate throughout the day. Look out for other factors that could be making them uncomfortable, such as teething, milk temperature and feeding position.
- Check the nipples: Babies who have mastered breastfeeding may develop a stronger suck and get frustrated with newborn nipples. Experiment with different nipples or teat flows to ensure you’re using a suitable one for their age and developmental stage. Hegen’s teat range offers five flow options, from extra slow flow for newborns to fast flow for babies beyond six months, to make it easier for parents to identify the right one for their baby.
3. My baby seems to be more colicky after we introduced bottle feeding.
While there is no specific definition for colic, the term generally refers to prolonged crying, usually for three or more hours, for seemingly no reason. Potential triggers include digestive issues, overstimulation or milk allergy. Breastfed babies who are latching correctly often do not experience colic, nor do they require burping after feeding. If you’ve observed increased colicky behaviour in your baby after introducing bottle feeding, it may be due to gas or reflux from the feeds. Below are some ways to ease their discomfort.
Maintain an upright position during feeds: Feeding your baby in an upright position can further reduce the amount of air they swallow. Designed to be asymmetrical and off-centre, Hegen’s super soft teats allow for a natural upright feeding position, similar to nursing from the breast. This minimises the tilt that conventional baby bottles require and reduces the risk of milk back-flow, which can lead to mid-ear complications. Don’t forget to burp your baby after their feed to release any trapped gas in their tiny tummy!
Consider paced bottle feeding: As mentioned earlier, paced bottle feeding allows your infant to set the pace of the feed, which reduces excessive air intake that can contribute to colicky behaviour. By giving your baby more control while feeding and slowing down the flow of milk, you can help to prevent digestive discomfort that may have been causing their irritability.
- Use an anti-colic bottle: Equipped with a built-in venting system that releases trapped air from the bottle, Hegen’s anti-colic teats reduces unwanted air intake, which otherwise takes up space in your baby’s tummy and makes them feel uncomfortable until they burp or pass gas – a potential cause for their teary outbursts. The venting also prevents milk from bubbling, minimising the oxidation of precious nutrients.
Facing hurdles with bottle feeding your baby is a common experience, particularly for new parents. Rest assured that these problems won’t last forever – we hope that by following our tips and making use of Hegen’s innovative feeding solutions, you are able to overcome these challenges with confidence. If you require more assistance with feeding your baby, do seek help early by speaking to a lactation consultant.
Hegen Lactation Centre, our team of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) is here to assist you in addressing any lactation concerns and ensuring a confident start to your nursing journey.