Paced Bottle Feeding
Quick page links
- Paced bottle feeding video.
- How to bottle feed a breastfed baby.
- The benefits of paced feeding.
- Why is the breast still best?
Having the baby drink directly from the mother's breast is always the preferred way to feed. Other feeding methods, such as finger or cup feeding, could also be considered before introducing a bottle.
When breastfed babies are bottle-fed, a slow pace-feeding method is recommended. Paced feeding prevents overfeeding and nipple preference.
By decreasing the potentially overwhelming flow of milk from a bottle, paced feeding encourages a smooth transition between the bottle and the breast. This is especially helpful to those mothers who are returning to work. It can also benefit those who are merely introducing the occasional bottle.
Overfeeding is a common issue for those who bottle feed. When your baby is feeding at the breast, the amount of milk is regulated naturally by the breast. Babies will generally drink as much milk as you give them; therefore, the problem of overfeeding may arise when bottle-fed. Paced feeding promotes feeding according to hunger cues and can consequently also prevent fussiness caused by overfeeding.
Paced bottle feeding is only necessary if the infant is under six months of age.
Paced Bottle Feeding Video
How to Implement Paced Feeding
- Always look for hunger cues before feeding your baby.
- Feeding is done NOT according to a schedule but on demand.
- The baby should be fed in an upright position. A reclined position will cause a faster flow of milk, which is what we are trying to avoid. This prevents gulping and additional air intake.
- Hold the bottle horizontally and tilt it only enough to fill the teet halfway with milk.
- Allow the baby to latch onto the nipple themselves without forcing the nipple into the baby’s mouth. Touch the nipple to the baby’s nose to encourage a natural rooting reflex.
- Feed the baby no longer than you would on the breast, with frequent pausing to mimic breastfeeding. Burp the baby often during feedings.
- Switch sides during feedings the way you would while breastfeeding.
- Never force your baby to finish a bottle.
- Calculate the amount of expressed breast milk / Formula your baby needs to drink at each feeding. Make these amounts last for the duration of a typical breastfeeding session—our baby milk intake chart.
- If the baby stops sucking, the bottle should not be moved around in the baby’s mouth to get them to drink. Don't wake the baby to finish.
- Allow your baby to pause and take a few breaks during feedings, just as they would while breastfeeding.
- Watch for signs that your baby has had enough, such as slower sucking, falling asleep, and relaxed open hands.
The Benefits of Paced Bottle Feeding
- The baby receives just the right amount of milk for their age and size.
- The mother will only need to express the required amount of milk instead of trying to keep up with an unnecessarily large volume of breast milk output.
- It minimizes colic symptoms by decreasing air intake—causing less gassiness and spitting up.
- It promotes breastfeeding by decreasing the likelihood of ending the breastfeeding relationship prematurely. This is done by mimicking the flow of the beast.
- Baby stops drinking when full because the signal of satiety is given enough time to reach the brain. This decreases the likelihood of tummy aches from a full tummy, and the baby is less likely to gain too much weight.
- I often hear, “My breastfed baby won't take a bottle!”. A breastfed baby is less likely to refuse a bottle when paced feeding is implemented.
Why Is Breast Still Best?
Why is breastfeeding directly at the breast preferred over bottle-feeding breast milk?
- Bottle-fed infants regurgitate more than when fed directly from the breast.
- When fed directly from the breast, they receive the perfect mixture of foremilk and hindmilk.
- If formula is given, fewer nutrients are digested, and there is an increased level of waste. Learn more about the benefits of breast milk.
- Regular bottle feeding may hinder efforts to establish a sufficient milk supply.
- Rapid weight gain is a common issue, whether the baby is fed formula or breastmilk via the bottle. Paced feeding should help to avoid this.