Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed, stay-at-home or go to work, there is almost certainly going to be a time when your baby needs a bottle. And using paced bottle feedings is the perfect way to listen to your baby and allow her to be in control of the feeding.
Paced bottle-feeding seems to be talked about the most often for breastfeeding moms that are returning to work. This is because it is the gold standard for easing the transition between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding and continuing both successfully.
However, because of its benefits, I firmly believe that paced bottle-feeding should be used for all babies! I recommend that you use this feeding style everytime your baby takes a bottle, whether you exclusively bottle feed or only give a bottle when you have a girls’ day out every few weeks.
Read below to learn about the seven outstanding benefits of paced bottle-feeding and eight simple tips to get started right away!
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Benefits of Paced Bottle-Feeding
1 – Supports a longer and more successful breastfeeding relationship
If you are breastfeeding, it is vital that you always use paced bottle-feedings any time that your baby takes a bottle. It mimics breastfeeding and decreases the odds that your baby will go on a nursing strike. Make sure that you educate everyone that will give your baby a bottle about how to do these feedings correctly.
2 – Supports Successful Pumping
Paced bottle-feeding follows your baby’s hunger cues. You feed
3 – Decreases colic symptoms
The fourth trimester is filled with challenges and difficulties for new parents and newborns. And many babies show symptoms of colic or extra fussiness in the evenings during those first few months. Using paced feeding for your bottle-fed baby prevents him from overeating or distending his stomach, which decreases those miserable colic symptoms.
4 – Minimize Baby Gas
Along those same lines, many babies struggle so much with baby gas. It builds up incredibly easily and they just don’t know how to get rid of it. [This is why I’m making a FREE 5-day course on easy tips to prevent and relieve baby gas! Subscribe to my email list at the bottom to get an update when it’s available!] Paced bottle-feeding slows down your feeding and perfectly aligns your baby to minimize gas build-up.
5 – Decrease Ear Aches and Ear Infections
Many people believe that bottle-fed babies are more susceptible to ear aches and ear infections. However, these occur because eating while fully reclined puts much more pressure on your baby’s ears. Using paced bottle-feeding relieves this pressure and allows milk to go straight to the digestive tract.
6 – Decrease spit up
It’s also believed that bottle-fed babies spit up more than breastfed babies. But this only occurs because bottle fed babies often eat too fast and too much. Because baby tummies will not allow them to overeat, they spit up all of that extra milk. By using paced bottle-feeding and listening to your babies cues, you stop when she’s full and greatly decrease the amount of spit up.
7 – Bond with your baby
Often dads feel that they can’t bond with their baby as much as their breastfeeding partner. Likewise, many moms mourn heavily when they finally accept that breastfeeding won’t work for them (no matter how much they have done to help their baby nurse or to increase their supply).
Paced bottle-feeding allows moms dads, grandparents, and anyone else to really bond with your baby every time she eats because you are respecting her and following her lead. This was really important to me because of my attachment parenting style.
How-To Guide on Paced Bottle-Feeding
Now you know about all of the incredible benefits of paced bottle-feeding! Hopefully, you also feel that it is the perfect feeding style for your baby every time that she needs a bottle.
Keep reading to learn the 8 easy tips you can use to start used paced bottle-feedings today! And don’t forget to share with your spouse, baby’s grandparents, your childcare provider, and anyone else that will bottle-feed your baby.
Step 1: Have the right tools for the right job!
In order for bottle feeding to work, you need to start off on the right foot and have the right tools for the right job. It’s important to find a bottle that your baby likes and that helps you in your paced bottle-feeding endeavor.
We bought this gift set when we were pregnant and they were so perfect!!! These Playtex Baby Ventaire Anti-Colic bottles seemed specifically designed to help us be successful with our paced bottle-feeding. And I thought they were very affordable compared to other competitors. We bought the gift set plus extra slow flow nipples and venting discs and haven’t had to buy any other supplies or bottles!
If you don’t have bottles yet or are looking for an upgrade, I can’t say enough how much I recommend getting these bottles. The vent system releases air out of the bottom of the bottle to prevent air bubbles in your baby’s tummy. They are also designed with an angle to facilitate upright feeding and help your paced bottle-feeding be as successful as possible. AND they come with nipples that are designed to help babies transition back and forth between bottle and breast.
Step Two: Hold your baby in a (slightly reclined) seated position.
We naturally lay our babies down while bottle-feeding, but that’s actually the opposite of what you want to do! Keep your baby almost completely sitting, in just a slightly reclined position throughout the entire feeding. This helps your baby to slow down her feeding. It also sends milk to the bottom of her stomach and any gas to the top of her stomach, which is a key tool to reduce acid reflux.
Step Three: Let your baby actively take in the nipple instead of forcing it in.
One of the great things about breastfeeding is that it stimulates your baby’s root and suck reflexes, which are typically under-stimulated in bottle-fed babies. But not with paced bottle-feedings!
Lightly brush the nipple from her top lip to her bottom lip. Then allow her to search for the nipple and open wide. That’s your cue to insert the nipple into her mouth. This is also super helpful for moms that are also nursing because it promotes a better latch when your baby breastfeeds.
Step Four: Hold the bottle at a horizontal angle.
When you give your baby his bottle, you want it to be almost completely parallel to the floor, with just a little milk in the nipple. You don’t want to hold it vertically or completely fill the nipple with milk.
By holding it horizontally, you slow the milk flow and keep your baby from eating too much too fast. It also stimulates the slower flow of breastfeeding and prevents your baby from preferring the bottle over the breast. For this same reason, make sure that you are using slow flow nipples with your babies. Only switch to medium or faster flows if you have fast let-down or if your older baby starts to become overly frustrated or tired after bottle feeding. This might be signs that your baby is ready for a faster flow.
Step Five: Pause every few minutes.
Remember that paced bottle-feeding is designed to listen to your baby’s cues and mimic breastfeeding. By pausing and re-starting every few minutes, you mimic the normal let-down reflex of breastfeeding. You also give your baby time to decide if he’s full yet. Tip the bottle down or remove the nipple for a short break and then allow your baby to root for the nipple and begin eating again.
Step Six: Switch sides halfway.
This did not come intuitively for me, but it is an important step of paced bottle-feeding. Halfway through the feeding, purp your baby and then switch arms that you are holding her. This prevents side preference and makes sure that all facial muscles are evenly developed because she sees your face and the bottle from both angles.
It also prevents your baby from getting a flat spot on one side of her head, which totally started to happen with my baby because I was always holding him in my felt arm. Whoops! Luckily, we caught this right away and started holding him in both arms more evenly.
Step Seven: Stop the feeding when your baby shows signs of fullness.
With bottle-feeding, it is so tempting to nudge your baby a little and encourage him to drink the whole bottle. You don’t want to waste any of that expensive formula or precious breastmilk. And usually, your baby will keep drinking if you keep encouraging him. However, this leads to overeating and causes extra gassiness, spitting up, and colic symptoms.
When your baby starts refusing the nipple, turning his face away, or dozing off and letting the nipple fall out of his mouth, it’s a sign that he’s full. My baby will also get fussy and squirm more when he’s trying to tell me that he is done eating. Once your baby shows these signs, respect him and stop the feeding until he is hungry again.
Step Eight: Don’t rush the feeding.
Nursing takes a while and your baby won’t be able to breastfeed in two minutes. She shouldn’t take a bottle in two minutes either. Make sure that you slow down the feeding to last at least 10-20 minutes. This allows you to have more time to bond with your baby and she can tell when she’s satiated. This also helps breastfed babies, because they don’t become frustrated with slow nursing sessions after fast bottle-feedings.
Get started today!
Now that you know how easy it is to start paced bottle-feeding with your baby, I recommend that you start with your very next bottle feeding!
Leave a comment below and share your experience. How often did your baby get a bottle? Did you ever try paced bottle-feeding?