If you’re a breastfeeding Mama and you plan on giving your baby bottles as well, you definitely need to know about paced feeding. I haven’t met with a single lactation consultant outside of the hospital where I gave birth, so I had no idea what paced feeding was. As much as I research breastfeeding, I somehow missed the memo. I read that you should use slow flow nipples and take your time at feedings, and in my exhausted new-mom state, I didn’t heed the warning. My son seemed to go back and forth between breast and bottle just fine, and then one day it came to a screeching halt. Suddenly I was only able to breastfeed him once or twice in the morning. I wish I would have looked into this way sooner, because there was a long time where my son would only take bottles, and it has been a difficult journey getting him back on the breast. He became so used to the fast flow from the bottles that anytime I tried to breastfeed him in the evening (when my supply was lower) he would cry inconsolably. Finally, after a lot of hard work, persistence, and special bottle nipples, at 4 and a half months old, I have him almost exclusively on the breast. All thanks to paced feeding!
WHAT IS PACED FEEDING?
Paced feeding is a technique used when bottle feeding a breastfed baby, and it’s designed to mimic breastfeeding.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
While nipple confusion (the idea that your baby will get confused and forget how to breastfeed if you give them bottles) is false, it is true that your baby may become accustomed to the faster flow of a bottle nipple and will start to become frustrated with the slower flow of the breast. This can make the baby fussy during feedings and sometimes they’ll even reject the breast completely. It can help prevent them from overeating as well.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Make sure you have a slow flow nipple. I’ve tried several different bottles and nipples, and the one that saved my breastfeeding relationship with my son was the Medela Calma. You can order it on Amazon Prime here.
But of course, every baby is unique and they all will like different types of bottles.
– A mistake that most people make when bottle feeding a breastfed baby is holding them almost horizontally, like they do in the movies. For paced feeding, you want sit your baby in an upright position, that way gravity isn’t doing them any favors. You want your baby to work to get the milk out themselves.
– Keep the bottle horizontal, tilting only enough to keep the milk in the nipple. Again, this helps ensure that your baby is doing the work instead of gravity.
– Let your baby take their time. You want it to take about as much time as it does when they breastfeed. Let them take little breaks and use that time to burp them. Tickle their lips and nose with the bottle nipple, and when they want to drink more, they’ll start trying to suck again.
– When your baby seems full, refrain from attempting to get them to finish the rest of the bottle, as tempting as it may be. If you’re worried about wasting milk, you could try creating smaller bottles.
If you’ve already been feeding your baby by bottle and you haven’t practiced paced feeding, they may be fussy when you first introduce this method. It will be worth it, just stay consistent. If you have any breastfeeding-related concerns, meet with a lactation consultant. I will be writing a more detailed post about saving your breastfeeding relationship when your baby starts refusing the breast very soon, which I will link back to this page. Be sure to subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss it!
There are plenty of videos that show you how to pace feed if you need a visual guide. Here is one that helped me!
Good luck, Mamas!