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When Zoey was a baby she never had a bottle, she went straight from breastfeeding to eating solids. With only one baby to care for, this was manageable, but exhausting at the same time. To be the sole caregiver to a little human for nine months straight can take a toll on you physically. When Zander was on his way I knew I had to do things a little differently. I wanted to both bottle and breastfeed and knew it would take some planning.
A lot of first time moms, myself included, are nervous about bottles because they are worried about nipple confusion. Once you have a good feeding routine you don’t want to mess that up! But there are so many reasons to introduce a bottle early. Lots of people seem to believe you can’t both bottle and breastfeed simultaneously, but with some careful planning the bottle shouldn’t interrupt breastfeeding at all. Today I wanted to share some of the personal reasons I chose to introduce a bottle early with Zander, and how I was able to both bottle and breastfeed seamlessly.
Why I Introduced A Bottle Early
Introducing a bottle early made sense to me for several reasons. I introduced a bottle for the first time when Zander was just six days old (I use NUK Simply Natural bottle and love it, I will explain why further down in the post). After so much success with both breast and bottle feeding Zander, I definitely would have done things different with Zoey in hindsight. Here are some of the reasons why I used a bottle with Zander:
Bottle feeding can involve your significant other and older siblings.
It is clear that feeding is a very important way to bond with your baby. Experts agree that providing food helps your baby learn who their caregiver is and develop strong attachments to that person. Bottle feeding allows your partner to share in that special bonding time. It also is a great way to help older siblings bond with younger ones. Zoey loves holding the bottle for Zander now and then.
Breastfeeding can be painful at the beginning!
If you plan to breastfeed the majority of the time, like I did with Zoey and Zander, it is important to establish good habits early. But breastfeeding can be really painful at the beginning, even when you are doing it right! It is normal for your nipples to get sore and for your breasts to be extremely tender when your milk comes in. It is nice to be able to take a break now and then and a bottle is a perfect way to get that break.
Medical school, combined with parenting two babies, means we hardly ever get alone time. Whenever we have the chance we get a babysitter and go out on a date. It is important to make your relationship a priority after kids. Bottle feeding allows you to be more flexible with date nights.
Some parents (myself included) get nervous about leaving their children with a babysitter at a young age. But the process of saying goodbye and coming back actually helps build self confidence in your kids. It teaches them independence, as well as confidence in their relationship with you. An article I recently read about building healthy attachments with your babies explained that when you leave and come back, it teaches your children that you are a permanent figure in their life, someone they can depend on even during temporary separations. It helps them develop healthy attachment patterns to realize that now and then it is ok to be apart.
How to Introduce a Bottle Early & What to Look for in a Bottle
When you are choosing a bottle look for something that is similar to the breast for a more natural feeding experience and easier transition between both. Also, finding a brand that has breastfeeding equipment, like NUK, can ease the transition. For example, the Simply Natural Freemie Collection Cups that I told you guys about when I first had Zander, were a reason I chose NUK Simply Natural. Here are a few simple steps for introducing the bottle to your baby:
1. Introduce Early
Babies are pattern and habit oriented. I gave Zander a bottle at 6 days old, this gave me time to establish breastfeeding, but also didn’t allow him time to become exclusively attached to the breast.
2. Choose the Correct Flow
This is probably one of the most important steps in choosing to both bottle and breastfeed. Choose a nipple that has the same flow speed as your breast. You can get an idea of what that is by gently removing your baby while they are nursing, after your milk has let down and the flow has regulated. If you are unsure start with the slowest flow nipple. It is important to avoid introducing a bottle with a faster milk flow than the breast, as babies will sometimes reject the breast in favor of a quicker flow. NUK Simply Natural has three flow levels. Slow has three holes in the nipple and is great for newborns, Zander is 11 months now and uses the medium flow with 6 holes.
3. Wait till Baby is Hungry
Babies are more receptive to a new feeding experience when they are hungry and ready to eat. If you really want to both bottle and breastfeed, take note of your baby’s hunger cues and make sure you introduce the bottle at the right time.
4. Be Sneaky 😉
If your baby refuses the bottle, try starting out on the breast and slipping the bottle nipple in there while they are nursing. Sometimes babies just need help getting started and then they will accept the bottle. Another thing that has worked for me is putting the tiniest amount of something sweet on the bottle nipple to encourage them to suck. Once your baby knows there is delicious milk accessible, they usually don’t care where it is coming from.
5. Establish a Routine
Bottle feed your baby at least once a day so it stays part of their normal routine. Introducing bottle feeding early only works if you are consistent. After all this work you don’t want them to forget how to use the bottle!
Why I Chose NUK Simply Natural
I use NUK Simply Natural bottles for so many reasons. The main one being that they are the only bottles you can find that mimic almost everything about mom’s breast. They give a very natural feeding experience. The nipple is shaped just like mother’s nipple while nursing. It has several holes in the nipple, just like mama, and it is the only bottle brand that has that unique feature. The nipple has a flexible, wide design, so it can move better, for a consistent latch. It also has an advanced, one piece, anti-coli system built into the nipple. The simple design makes it easy to clean, which is a must for me.
Zander actually started with a different bottle that I bought before he was born. I was not totally happy with it so I decided to try NUK Simply Natural. Initially I thought it would take him a few tries to make the switch. He latched on the first time I put it in his mouth and I could instantly see he loved it. His old bottle was often thrown to the ground in favor of playing with mommy or his favorite toy. He hugs onto this one till he finishes every last drop. It is easy to see that the NUK Simply Natural is more than a bottle for him, it is actually a comforting experience, just like breastfeeding. You can get NUK Simply Natural bottles in the feeding section of Babies’R’Us. Look for the special end cap display.
Choosing to both bottle and breastfeed was such a great decision for our family, and I will definitely continue the tradition when baby number three comes along.
Did you both bottle and breastfeed? What helped make the transition easier?
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