Becoming a first time mother is an experience that is indescribable until you do it yourself. There are so many things to learn after the baby arrives that once the amazement of your child in your arms becomes a reality, the responsibility can be overwhelming. One of the things that is constantly repeated after your baby arrives is, “take care of yourself” or “make time for you.” This can add to the list of things to try and juggle as you are adjusting to parenthood. There are opportunities as a new momma to take time for you that will lead to a clear mind and new perspective. Refreshed mommas are always better mommas, so one way to score some you time is to teach your baby to adapt to both the breast and the bottle.
Many mothers make the choice to nurse their babies, but want the flexibility to skip a feeding so Daddy, grandmom, the babysitter or anyone else for that matter can have the opportunity to bond with the new baby or simply to help you out with baby responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to nursing. Although all babies are different, there are a few things that may help you as your little one makes the transition from breast to bottle:
Don’t be afraid to introduce a bottle within the first week
First and foremost, introduce the bottle within the first week. Many nurses and lactation consultants may warn about nipple confusion, but if your baby is a good nurser, introducing a bottle is usually fine. Offering formula or expressed breast milk will help your baby learn early on that others can still provide the comfort of a feeding. It will also enable you opportunities for date nights, catching up on work, cooking a meal, taking a nap, painting your toes or whatever other trade off you need to take time for yourself.
The boycott possibility
Some babies may take well to a bottle initially, but may begin to boycott a few feedings into this new routine. Other babies may boycott the bottle immediately. Try several bottle brands since many of them are shaped differently. Also take note of the speed of nipple that you select, as you don’t want to drown your baby with a fast flowing nipple. Most brands clearly mark on their packaging what age the specific nipple is targeted for. The process of determining preferred bottle brand can be painful. If your baby is not in the right mood, is tired, extremely hungry, etc they may refuse the bottle regardless; so try several brands repetitively to determine if they are refusing due to bottle preference or due to another circumstance. It may take several days or even months, but once you find the right bottle; your little one can be trained to be content with either bottle or breast.
Duplicate the nursing experience
The last thing to help with the transition is to try to duplicate the nursing experience. As you initially begin to train your baby to take the bottle, it would be a good idea to feed the baby in the same place the baby has been nursed. If you play music during your feedings or dim the lights, do the same when you are in the process of introducing the bottle. If someone else other than you are feeding the baby, try placing a burp cloth or a small blanket that smells like momma near the infant, which will also help your baby feel secure during the transition. Whatever you can do to duplicate what your baby has been used to will help with the initial introduction. Once your baby adapts to being bottle fed and is old enough to decipher between momma and bottle, the ambiance of the feeding will not be as important to duplicate.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that all babies are different, but most babies will eventually take a bottle. Some will transition smoothly and with little resistance, whereas others will make you work for it and add their own flair just to make it interesting! Start sooner than later and make lists of what your baby likes or doesn’t like and you will notice trends that will help you narrow down how to make the transition easy for both of you. Stick with it and remember that the freedom will benefit both of you in the long run and will provide opportunities to have others involved with providing for you baby!
Good luck, stick with it and enjoy the freedom that bottle feeding can offer!