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Bottle Feeding

When and How to Introduce Bottle Feeding to Your Breastfed Baby.

When and How to Introduce Bottle Feeding to Your Breastfed Baby


Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby, but there may come a time when you need to introduce bottle feeding to your breastfed baby. Whether it’s because you’re returning to work, your baby is not gaining weight, or you just need a break, it’s important to introduce bottle feeding at the right time and in the right way. In this article, we will discuss when and how to introduce bottle feeding to your breastfed baby.

When to Introduce Bottle Feeding to Your Breastfed Baby

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your baby is at least 4-6 weeks old before introducing a bottle. This is because if you introduce a bottle too early, it can lead to nipple confusion. Nipple confusion occurs when the baby gets used to a different type of nipple or is used to getting milk from a bottle instead of directly from the breast.

Once your baby is 4-6 weeks old, you can start introducing a bottle. However, keep in mind that every baby is different, and some babies may not be ready to take a bottle until they are closer to 3 months old. Watch for signs that your baby is ready to try a bottle, such as showing an interest in what you’re drinking or taking a pacifier.

How to Introduce Bottle Feeding to Your Breastfed Baby

When you’re ready to introduce bottle feeding to your breastfed baby, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • Choose the right bottle. Look for bottles with a nipple that closely mimics the shape and feel of a breast. This will help prevent nipple confusion.
  • Choose the right time. Pick a time when your baby is not overly hungry or tired. A good time to try bottle feeding is in the morning when your milk supply is typically at its highest.
  • Let someone else do the feeding. Have someone other than you feed your baby the bottle. This will help prevent your baby from associating breastfeeding with bottle feeding.
  • Start slow. Start with a small amount of milk in the bottle, and let your baby dictate how much they want to drink.
  • Be patient. It may take a few tries before your baby takes to the bottle. Don’t give up, and keep trying.


Introducing bottle feeding to your breastfed baby can be a daunting task, but with the right timing and technique, it can be a smooth transition. Remember to choose the right bottle, pick the right time, let someone else do the feeding, start slow, and be patient. With these tips, you and your baby can successfully transition to combining breast and bottle feeding.

FAQ: When and How to Introduce Bottle Feeding to Your Breastfed Baby

Q: Why would I need to introduce bottle feeding to my breastfed baby?

A: There are several reasons why you may need to introduce bottle feeding to your breastfed baby. Some mothers may need to return to work or school, while others may need to take medication that is not compatible with breastfeeding. Additionally, some babies may have difficulty latching onto the breast or may not be gaining enough weight, and may benefit from supplemental feedings with a bottle.

Q: When is the best time to introduce a bottle to my breastfed baby?

A: It is recommended to wait until your baby is at least 4-6 weeks old and is breastfeeding well before introducing a bottle. This allows your baby to establish a breastfeeding routine and reduces the risk of nipple confusion.

Q: How do I choose the right type of bottle for my breastfed baby?

A: Look for bottles that have a slow flow nipple, as this will be similar to the flow of breast milk and will decrease the chances of your baby getting too much milk too quickly and choking. Additionally, bottles with a wide neck and soft, flexible nipple may be easier for your baby to latch onto.

Q: How do I prepare a bottle for my breastfed baby?

A: Start by washing your hands and sterilizing all of the bottle components. Then, measure the correct amount of formula or expressed breast milk into the bottle, following the instructions on the package or as directed by your healthcare provider. Finally, test the temperature of the milk on the inside of your wrist before feeding your baby. The milk should be body temperature, not too hot or too cold.

Q: How often should I offer a bottle to my breastfed baby?

A: Offer a bottle to your baby when they are hungry, but try to offer it no more than once a day to avoid interfering with breastfeeding. You can also try offering a bottle during a time when you would normally be breastfeeding, such as late at night or early in the morning.

Q: How do I get my breastfed baby to take a bottle?

A: It may take some time and patience to get your baby to take a bottle. Start by having someone else offer the bottle, as your baby may smell your breast milk and become confused. Try different positions, such as holding your baby upright and offering the bottle in a slightly tilted position. You can also try dipping the nipple in breast milk to help your baby get used to the taste.

Q: What are some tips for transitioning my breastfed baby to a bottle?

A: Take it slow and be patient. Offer the bottle when your baby is calm and hungry, but not starving. If your baby resists the bottle, try again later. You can also try gradually replacing breastfeeding sessions with bottle feedings until your baby becomes more accustomed to the bottle.

Q: Do I need to worry about nipple confusion when introducing a bottle to my breastfed baby?

A: Nipple confusion can occur when a baby has trouble switching between the breast and bottle, but it is not a concern for all babies. To reduce the risk of nipple confusion, wait until your baby is breastfeeding well and choose a bottle with a slow flow nipple that is similar in shape to the breast.

Q: Can I go back to breastfeeding exclusively after introducing a bottle to my breastfed baby?

A: Yes, you can go back to breastfeeding exclusively if you choose. Simply reduce the number of bottle feedings gradually and offer the breast more often, allowing your baby to gradually shift back to breastfeeding.

Q: Should I be concerned if my breastfed baby prefers the bottle over breastfeeding?

A: While some babies may prefer the bottle over breastfeeding, this is not usually a concern. However, if you are worried about your baby’s feeding habits or weight gain, talk to your healthcare provider.

Q: Can I mix breast milk with formula in a bottle?

A: Yes, you can mix breast milk with formula in a bottle. However, it is best to follow the instructions on the formula package or as directed by your healthcare provider, as formula may need to be mixed in a specific way to ensure proper nutrition and digestion.

Related Products for Introducing Bottle Feeding to Breastfeeding

  • Baby Bottles:

    It is important to choose a bottle that has a slow flow nipple to mimic the same flow as breastfeeding. Look for bottles that are easy to clean and BPA-free. Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Bottles or Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottles are great options.

  • Bottle Warmer:

    When introducing bottle feeding to breastfeeding, it is important to keep the milk at the same temperature as breast milk, which is around 98 degrees Fahrenheit. A bottle warmer, such as Philips Avent Fast Baby Bottle Warmer, is a convenient way to warm up bottles quickly and evenly.

  • Nursing Pillow:

    Using a nursing pillow, such as Boppy Nursing Pillow, can help support your baby while bottle feeding. It can also make bottle feeding more comfortable for you as it helps to alleviate the strain on your neck and shoulders.

  • Bottle Brush:

    A bottle brush is necessary to clean baby bottles properly. Look for a brush that has soft bristles and can reach all the way to the bottom of the bottle. OXO Tot Bottle Brush works well for cleaning baby bottles and nipples.

  • Bottle Drying Rack:

    After cleaning baby bottles, it’s important to let them air dry thoroughly to prevent any bacteria growth. A bottle drying rack, such as Boon Grass Drying Rack, is a convenient way to dry multiple bottles and accessories at once without taking up too much counter space.

  • Bottle Sterilizer:

    To ensure that baby bottles are completely clean and free from harmful bacteria, a bottle sterilizer, such as Philips Avent Microwave Steam Sterilizer, can be used. It uses steam to kill any germs and can sterilize multiple bottles at once.

  • Baby Formula:

    If you’re not breastfeeding, you’ll need to choose a baby formula. There are many different types of formula available, such as cow’s milk-based, soy-based, and hypoallergenic. Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease is a cow’s milk-based formula that is easy to digest and helps to reduce gas, fussiness, and crying.

  • Bottle Nipples:

    When introducing bottle feeding to breastfeeding, it’s important to choose a nipple that mimics the same flow as breast milk. Look for a nipple that has a slow flow and is made of soft, flexible silicone. Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Slow Flow Nipples are a great option.

  • Bottle Insulator:

    To keep a bottle warm while on-the-go, a bottle insulator, such as Munchkin Bottle Warmer, can be used. It keeps the bottle warm for up to two hours and fits most standard baby bottles.

  • Formula Dispenser:

    A formula dispenser, such as Munchkin Formula Dispenser, is a convenient way to take formula with you while on-the-go. It can hold up to three pre-measured servings of formula and fits easily in a diaper bag.

Pros & Cons of Introducing Bottle Feeding to Your Breastfed Baby


  • Helps with Transitioning: Introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby can help with transitioning them to other sources of food, such as formula or solid foods, when the time comes.
  • Allows for Convenience: Bottle feeding provides a convenient way for others to feed your baby, giving you a break or allowing you to return to work or other activities.
  • Allows for Monitoring: If you’re able to pump milk, then bottle feeding can allow you to monitor the amount of milk your baby is consuming, something that can be more difficult with breastfeeding.
  • Relieves Pain or Discomfort: If you’re experiencing nipple or breast pain or discomfort, introducing a bottle can relieve some of the pressure and pain associated with breastfeeding.
  • Allows for Bonding: Though not as intimate as breastfeeding, bottle feeding can still provide an opportunity for bonding with your baby as you feed and interact with them.
  • Cons:

  • Can Affect Milk Production: If you’re supplementing with formula, it could potentially affect your milk production, leading to a lower milk supply over time.
  • May Cause Confusion: Introducing a bottle too soon, before your baby has fully established breastfeeding, could cause nipple confusion, leading to difficulty with breastfeeding in the future.
  • May Cause Discomfort: Some babies experience discomfort or difficulty with the bottle, such as gas or colic, which could make feeding more challenging.
  • May Impact Bonding: While bottle feeding can still provide opportunity for bonding, it doesn’t provide the same skin-to-skin contact and hormonal benefits as breastfeeding, which could impact bonding.
  • Cost: If supplementing with formula, it can be expensive to consistently purchase and use formula, which could add up over time.

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