Aug 25, 2009

Braving the Bottle

I decided to write this post after talking with a new blog-friend, Stephanie, about introducing the bottle for the first time. Starting a bottle was stressful for me as I worried about doing it too early or not doing it "correctly". This seems to be a common fear...

I'll start off by saying every baby is different so, obviously, what works for me may result in hell for you... if you've had a different experience, leave a comment and let us know what else to expect! Also, not everyone needs to or wants to introduce the bottle at all... I know Moms who never did, which is great too. However, I wanted Jane to be comfortable with the bottle so that it was possible sometimes for me to have a little alone time.

For breastfed babies, "they" say to wait until 4-6 weeks to introduce the bottle to avoid "nipple confusion". We introduced the bottle to Jane when she was 4 weeks old. Jane's latch was solid from the get-go, however, I was still stressed to the max about screwing anything up as I was having a hard enough time with bf-ing as it was! If you've followed my blog for awhile, you'll remember that I struggled with bf-ing until Jane was about 6 weeks old (see these posts from June).

Here are some of the tips that I have learned - basically common sense but mine got up and left in the 12th week of pregnancy, so maybe these will save you a headache:
  • The first few times we tried the bottle, I fed Jane. I thought it would be too much change if suddenly she was not feeding from the nipple and that it was now coming from Daddy.
  • Initially, I just used the bottles that came with my breastpump. I found these gave Jane a lot of gas. I switched to "Playtex Vent-air" and they work great. My sis uses "Dr. Browns" and she likes those a lot as well.
  • Perhaps it was the bottle's fault (see point above) but, at first, I was giving Jane her bottles at the 9 o'clock feeding. I found that she would be so gas-y that she'd grunt the whole night after a bottle-feed This was before I switched the bottles but after a few night's of poor sleep, I never tried the nighttime bottle again... not worth the risk for me! :p
  • Unless necessary, I only give Jane one bottle, every other day. I've heard it's easier for them to get milk out of the bottle and it's definitely a different "sucking"... so I don't want her to realize that she'd prefer the bottle and give up on my boob.
  • If you are going to do the nighttime bottle for Daddy feeding, which may help the Moms out there who needs a few extra hours sleep (OK, what Mom doesn't need more sleep?), I'd recommend pumping the milk for that bottle the night before. The nurses here really stress the difference between daytime milk and nighttime milk - night milk is thicker so it keeps baby fuller longer so they sleep longer (in a dream world). So, it would probably be best to use nighttime milk for a nighttime feed to ensure you don't counteract the whole point of having hubby do the night-feed! :)
  • I was unable to pump a bottle the night of for a nighttime feed because my milk was so thick after 8 o'clock-ish that the pump couldn't get it out of my boobs! The first night this happened I messaged my blog-friend Lara freaking out because I thought my milk had disappeared! When I put Jane on the boob, however, she came off with a face covered in milk so no worries (i.e. don't freak if this happens to you too)! ha ha ha.
  • As far as "how much milk?"... I'm sure this is different for every baby. When Jane first took the bottle at 4 weeks, she drank about 2.5-3 oz, so I'd pump 4oz just to be safe. Now, at 11 weeks, I usually pump about 6 oz and if she's still hungry afterward, I give her the boob, but that's rarely happened.
  • Last point, make sure you buy bottles with "slow flow" nipples. There is a difference (who knew?) and the slow flow is best for new babies. I am still using slow flow with Jane and I have NO IDEA when I'm supposed to move her up - I'm hoping she'll tell me, ha ha ha, which is hilarious because you'll probably hear about it as I'll be freaking out as to why she's so grouchy on the bottle in however many weeks until I realize that it's because she wants more milk, more quickly! :p
I hope this helps... these are definitely not anything I learned about or knew about before Jane arrived! :)

Jen :)

We Are A Posh Little Blog


Jill Thomas said...

My baby is 8 weeks old and he has been using the bottle during the day since about 3-4 weeks. He has no problem going back to the boob at night and if I need a quick feed out somewhere then he still takes to the boob. We used the bottles early because I am trying to stockpile milk for when I go back to work. And my fiance was very worried about daddy bonding time. He still only eats 3.5 to 4oz from the bottle. We tried to move it up but he gets full and throws up if we overfeed. But he is a good 12 lbs and gaining weight. So every baby is different, but she should do fine. I read somewhere the other day that you use the slow flow until you consider putting cereal in the milk later. But she might need a different flow if she is getting frustrated with eating. We use Playtex Ventaire but they still seem to get more air with bottles than breastfeeding. And if you pump, the milk is less in the afternoon than any other time.

Jen said...

Thanks Jill - that's a great addition! Like I said, I'm only using one bottle, every other day, so by NO means am I the expert on this. Thanks for giving us your advice as it seems the bottle is working well for you and you know what you're doing! :)

Similar to Jeremiah, Jane's had no problem switching between bottle and boob. Although my sis has been transitioning her babe to formula and, after a few weeks of mostly bottles, Lucy stopped taking the boob... so it's trial and error for everyone!

Jessica said...

My daughter is now almost 8 months old, and we've been using a bottle since she was just a couple of weeks old. My milk didn't come in very strongly - supply was really low, probably because of poor latch and her general apathy about eating - so we had to supplement with formula really early on. (I appluad that you stuck with it!)

We use the Ventaire bottles, too, and LOVE them. One warning, though - the little plastic vent piece in the bottom of the bottle will wear out after awhile, and the bottle will leak. NO FUN. You can order more of those pieces from the Playtex website for pretty cheap - a whole lot cheaper than buying more bottles, which is what we did for a bit before getting fed up at the cost.

Also, we're still using the slow flow nipples. Leah has just gotten used to them, and I think she just pulls harder on them now that she's bigger. I tried a level 2 nipple - slightly faster - and it didn't work well for her because she was used to the slower flow and she had formula all over her little face. Poor thing.

Jen said...

Hey Jessica,
That sounds like the exact reason my sister ended up switching to bottles. Great tip re: the bottles, never would have considered keeping an eye on it! Thanks.
Also, glad to know that I'm on track with the right nipples. Jane seems to like the slow flow right now so I'll stick with that until she decides she wants it faster.

Lindsay said...

I was told, when I was trying bottles with my daughter, that it's a good idea to use slow flow nipples with a mostly breast-fed baby until they are ready to switch to a sippy cup. I tried using a 3 month nipple when Sarah was 4 or 5 months and the milk came out way too fast for her. Slow flow nipples are closer to the way milk comes out of your breasts.
That being said, we are having a heck of a time getting our son to take the occasional bottle. I gave him his first couple of bottles around 3 weeks and he took them with no problem. Now it is contantly a fight.
We've started having Daddy give a botle in the evening every night while I take our daughter out of the house so he can't smell me nearby. It's starting to work, so hopefully, one day I'll be able to leave him for more than 30 minutes without freaking out!

Holly said...

Thanks for the tips! My little boy is only a week old but I will be introducing the bottle in a couple weeks so this will help!

Mike and Kate said...

Thanks for the info Jen. My daughter is almost 3 weeks and I'm thinking about introducing a bottle in the next few weeks. Of course I have the same fears as you...don't want to screw up the breastfeeding.

I have another question that maybe you or one of your readers can answer for me. What about a soother? Have you guys introduced a soother? If so, when and which kind?


Jen said...

Hey Kate,
I introduced a soother right away (when she was two days old) as she was cluster feeding - she wasn't hungry she just needed the comfort of the boob. So in order to get some sleep, I tried the soother. It hasn't affected her latch at all but I know that's a risk if you're already working with a latch that's not perfect. Sometimes babies just need to suck for comfort. I just use the regular bpa free soothers... nothing special. I've tried different types, but the original, old school-style soother works best for me :)


Mike and Kate said...

Thanks Jen!

BTW, I'm going to join in your little weight-loss challenge soon. Just give me a couple weeks! :)