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Switching from Breast to Bottle

Switching from Breast to Bottle
Experts recommend that you wait for at least a month before switching from breastfeeding to bottle feeding.

The process of switching may be difficult but these guidelines should help the transition run smoothly.


Firstly, it is important that you prepare in advance - if you are planning on returning to work, you should introduce a bottle two weeks earlier so you have a chance to deal with any issues.

Be Intimate

After breastfeeding you may miss the intimacy you shared with your baby during feeds. But just because you are bottle feeding it doesn't mean you can't hold your baby close.

Let Someone Else Have a Go

However, it may take your baby a while to get used to the change and it can be slightly confusing for them, especially because they can smell your breast milk. They may refuse to take a bottle from Mum just because they can smell your milk. If this is the case, it may help if you leave the room and let someone else offer a bottle. Once your baby is taking a bottle from someone else, they are more likely to take it from you too.

Don't Rush

Remember to allow yourself plenty of time when introducing your baby to a bottle. Start the feeding process earlier than you normally would because if your baby is too hungry they are likely to become frustrated and will demand your breast rather than the bottle. If you have tried three or four times in a row and your baby continues to refuse the bottle, go and do something else and after 10 or 15 minutes go back to your baby and offer them your breast. If you offer your breast straight away they will associate their refusal of the bottle with your offering of the breast, which will make it even harder in the future to make them take a bottle!
If your baby continues being reluctant to take a bottle, try a different type of teat. Some teats resemble breasts more closely, whereas some deliver milk in a way more similar to a breast. Experiment to see which type of teat your baby prefers. Allow your baby to familiarise themself with the teat - let them suck, chew, nibble on it and eventually they will probably start to drink from it too.

If you are still struggling to get your baby to take to the bottle try putting some breast milk on the teat. Once they have tasted it they will be inclined to suck for more milk from the bottle.

Try a Different Position

Experiment with different positions as well. Lots of mums find that being face to face with their baby encourages them to feed from a bottle. Then, when your baby is used to bottle feeding in this way you can try going back to more intimate feeding positions.

Use a Cup

If your baby absolutely refuses to take a bottle and you have tried and tried, you may decide to offer them a cup instead. Holding your baby upright, tilt the cup so a small amount of milk tips out into your baby's mouth. They should then continue to lap up the milk.

Bottle Back to Breast

If you change your mind about bottle feeding and choose to return to breast feeding it is possible although it can be difficult. If you stop breast feeding, your body naturally reduces the amount of milk it produces. However, it can increase again to meet your baby's needs.

August 2012

The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and states that babies fed exclusively on breast milk for their first six months will develop most healthily.

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