Moving from breast to bottle
Breast is best, but there may come a time when your partner and you decide to move your baby onto formula milk, or a combination of both. Your partner may want your baby to be bottle fed with her expressed milk. Either way, helping your baby to use a bottle can be a challenge
Note: If your partner wants to stop breastfeeding because it's proving painful or difficult, make sure she's had the opportunity to talk it through with skilled professionals and contact the numerous helplines. They're listed in this article:
How do we introduce a bottle?
Bear in mind that your partner’s body also takes time to adjust. If she stops breastfeeding too quickly her breasts may become painfully swollen.
The softly, softly approach works better than making a sudden, upsetting switchover.
Some babies might find sipping from a cup easier than a bottle, so its worth trying.
- Ideally babies should be exclusively benefiting from the immunity-strengthening properties of breast milk until they are at least six months old, and some (like the WHO) recommend breastfeeding for up to two years. Take a lead from your partner here - it's her choices you need to support.
- Try combining breast and bottle for a while.
- When you're moving over from breast to bottle first, your baby has to learn a new sucking action for the bottle, which is a big enough transition in itself.
- If possible, before you introduce baby formula milk, start with expressed breast milk for one or two feeds a day, while continuing with breastfeeding.
- Once she’s used to the bottle you can start introducing baby formula - although you can also continue to use expressed breast milk.
The process may take weeks or even months and you should take it at your own pace. The most important thing is to ensure that your baby is getting the food she needs, and that your partner is comfortable with the transition to bottle-feeding.
- Hold your baby so that you are both comfortable.
- Give her your full attention, smile and talk to her, and she'll soon start to look up to you during the feed.
- You need to let her control the pace: hold the bottle and pause when it seems she's had enough or needs to take a breath.
- Don’t push her to take more.
And remember, hold her at a 45-degree angle, support her head and never leave her alone with the bottle – there is a risk of choking.
You will need to choose from one of two types of formula: soya-based or modified cow's milk.
- Soya-based formula milk is only used in situations where the baby has a milk intolerance, a dairy allergy, or if you are bringing your child up as a vegan. It is recommended that you consult with your health visitor regarding soya-based milk.
- Sterilise the bottle and other equipment (one way is to buy a chemical or microwave steam sterilizer).
- Follow the instructions on the tin to the letter, and use the formula scoop provided.
- Then make sure that the milk is at the right temperature (boil first, then let it cool, and don’t use the microwave to heat milk). Test it by squirting a bit on your hand; it should be warm but not hot.
A new directive from the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health advises not to make up feeds in advance (in the interests of hygiene), and to prepare feeds only for immediate consumption.
Gavin EvansGavin Evans is a father of two daughters - aged 17 and 13 - and lives in North London. 15 years ago he changed gear from being a full-time reporter to full-time parent and part-time journalist. His writing on issues affecting fathers has been published in a wide range of publications including The Guardian, The Independent, Men's Health, Cosmopolitan, The Times and The New Statesman. He has written five books on sport, a chapter on men in Your Pregnancy Bible and is completing his first screenplay. Gavin also regularly posts blogs at www.gavinevans.net.