Maybe you are creating your registry or maybe your baby has arrived and you don't have any bottles on hand so you are searching the ends of the internet for help. Maybe you walked into the bottle aisle at Target and you started to get sweaty because you didn't want to pick the wrong bottle and now you are diving into the research. This post is going to give you tangible tips along with recommendations on what to consider when picking a bottle and the nipple as well as how to use bottles during the breast/chestfeeding journey.
Believe it or not, the bottles out there marketed as "mimics the breast" are actually the ones you should stay away from. I've been there. My oldest child, Josiah, refused the bottle when I returned to work so I dove deep into the mom forum for help and guidance on getting him to take a bottle. I found Mimijumi, a bottle shaped and colored like the breast and was encouraged by the reviews. I got the bottle in the mail and he took it from me! By took it I mean, he took a few swigs and that felt like such a stride. He didn't take the fancy boob bottle for anyone else. My first shot at motherhood was filled with a lot of, what felt like failures like that. Lots of online purchases that got pushed to the back of the closet because they didn't work.
And don't get me started on this common phrase, "when they are hungry enough they will eat. It won't matter where the milk is coming from." STRESSFUL, UNHELPFUL, MADDENING. Bottle refusal is extraordinary stressful and disheartening, so if that's why you are reading this. I'm sorry you are having to deal with that. I was told that a lot when my son was refusing a bottle. Unfortunately, the answer still wasn't a magic boob bottle. And while the videos of dads giving their babies bottles through a shirt they have cut a whole in and pushed the bottle through all while wearing a mask of their baby's mom is cute, it probably doesn't work as well as it appears on the internet.
So, what you have come here for is this: nipple shape and nipple flow are the most important things to keep in mind when selecting the best bottle for a breast/chestfed baby who will need to navigate both bottle and breast BUT also for a baby who is strictly receiving bottles. Why bring this up? Because, a thoughtfully selected bottle will help with your baby's orofacial development.
Opt for slow flow, preemie is perfection. Slow flow nipples help your baby work on coordinating their suck, swallow, breathe patterns. It also ensures they are working harder than if the milk was a faster flow which mimics the flow at the breast/chest better. Babies who are breastfed or chestfed often take breaks during a feeding as the flow ebbs and flows. Here is a video about paced bottle feeding to checkout and provide to people who will be feeding your baby.
When you are looking at the nipple for a bottle it should be a gradual change in shape from the top to the bottom of the nipple. Avoid any nipples that have a strange nipple appearance: flattened, sloped or placed in an odd spot on the base of the nipple. Ditch the weird shapes because we want a nipple that feels more natural in your baby's mouth. We certainly don't want them going back and forth and turning your nipple flat. A proper shape helps with an easier transition to and from the breast/chest and bottle.
When picking bottle sizes opt for 4-5oz bottles. On average, breast or chestfed babies take in about 4oz/feeding especially when utilizing the paced bottle feeding method. This easy swap will help you save on extra bottle expenses.
If you know your baby is going to have to take a bottle, start introducing it around 2-3 weeks. That means, pump 1x/day and offer a bottle of pumped milk versus a feeding at the breast/chest. If they appear hungry after their bottle offer the breast/chest. They may require comfort or a little dessert.
Get at least 2 types of bottles to test out on your baby to see which one they like best.
You don't have to purchase the specific options I have listed, but following the guidelines will prove helpful and make adding things to your registry or cart feel less overwhelming
Feeding your baby shouldn't be stressful. If you are having difficulties with bottle refusal and/or your baby feeding at your body please contact a lactation professional. It can be hard to navigate these situations alone or without proper support and guidance. It's important to note that in cases of bottle refusal, there could be something more going on inside your baby's mouth that should be assessed. Oral restrictions and other intricacies in the mouth can come into play. You may need a few tips from a lactation professional or you may need to schedule something further with a feeding therapist or a myofacial or orofacial therapist.
The biggest mistake you can make when introducing a pacifier is using it as a crutch. ALWAYS offer the food source before you offer a pacifier. Pacifiers take away from time at the breast/chest which can negatively affect supply because you aren't removing milk from your body and if you aren't removing milk your body will signal to your brain to slow down production.
I believe there is a time and place for pacifiers. I always tell clients that if you are at your wits end and just need a minute and that feels like the next best step, use the pacifier. The pacifier is a tool for emergencies. What do I mean by emergencies? Long car rides or maybe you are helping your older child and you need your baby calm for just a few more minutes, use the pacifier. Maybe your baby has been cluster feeding and you need a break, offer the pacifier. So when would it be a bad idea? If your baby just ate an hour ago and appear interested in the breast/chest DO NOT just give them a pacifier. Always offer the food source first and then a pacifier.
*Ninni pacifier is great for babies experiencing feeding difficulties because you can visualize what is happening in your baby's mouth, it's a great tool for using after any tie revisions as well
*Opt for an untethered pacifier because the toys on the end and the clips add extra weight to the pacifier in your baby's mouth
We want all babies to be successful at feeding and it's hard to decipher all. of the well marketed options out there but like in most scenarios, the more basic it seems the better it probably is. Feeding is a complex action. Your child is doing more than just getting nourishment, they are working their muscles and bones inside their faces to do the act of feeding and we can help facilitate it better if we use the right tools. Let's just be clear...your baby may have a strong preference and that is okay stick with what they like.
Share your favorite baby bottles in the comments!