Although bottle feeding and breastfeeding offer two different experiences, they are both perfectly healthy ways to feed your baby. But maybe you're switching your baby from breast to bottle, or just want to give your baby as natural a feeding experience as possible.
Bottle feeding will naturally be different from breastfeeding, but there are ways to give your baby a bottle that can mimic the breastfeeding experience, as much as possible. We've rounded up our top tips to make this happen.
Why do you want bottle feeding to be the closest thing to breastfeeding?
You might be wondering why you have to do the extra work to make bottle feeding feel more like breastfeeding.
If you're switching your baby from breast to bottle feeding, making the complete switch, or just swapping a few bottle feedings, you should consider this to be a big change for your baby.
The refusal of the bottle is rather real. Not all babies experience this, so you might be in luck! But chances are bottle-feeding will be a lot easier if you follow our tips to properly mimic breastfeeding.
Now, if you've bottle-fed your baby since birth, there'll be less need to follow all of this advice.
However, approaching bottle feeding as naturally as possible using some of the techniques we suggest, even if your baby has never been breastfed, can make the experience more comfortable for them, which can also reduce the risk of reflux and colic.
Our top 6 tips for bottle feeding that feels like breastfeeding
Through these 6 tips, we'll discuss the bottle feeding rhythm technique, that is, how you can bottle feed your baby in a way that mimics the experience of breastfeeding.
This will ease the transition from breast to bottle feeding and keep your baby comfortable and happy during and after drinking their bottle of breast milk or formula.
Breast milk temperature
It doesn't matter if you're feeding your baby formula or breastmilk, but you want to make sure that you heat it as close to breastmilk temperature. Now you might be wondering how this is possible by warming a bottle under a tap or in a bowl of lukewarm water.
The truth is that it will be more difficult to do it this way, to know if it is the right temperature or not. You can always experiment until you find the right temperature for your baby, OR, you can do it easily with the Izybaby nomadic bottle warmer.
The Izybaby is the very first on-the-go bottle warmer that lets you choose the exact temperature you need for your baby's milk. Since this is a breastfeeding temperature, you will want to choose 37°. There's simply no better way to mimic the real temperature of breast milk than this.
Use a bottle that mimics breastfeeding
Taking the time to find a suitable bottle for breastfed babies can save you and your baby a lot of heartache. Although the bottle you choose may not seem important, when you try to mimic breastfeeding as much as possible, it really is!
Here's what to look for in a bottle that's best suited for breastfeeding:
- larger, a more rounded teat to look like a real breast
- made from a soft material to best mimic the texture of the breast
- a flexible teat that improves grip
- a teat that reproduces the natural flow of milk
Use a slow flow teat
It's best to use a slow flow nipple (sometimes called a newborn teat) when trying to imitate breastfeeding, as breastfed babies need to suck harder to get their milk from the breast.
Choosing a faster flow teat may release milk far too quickly for a typically breastfed baby. It is important to remember, however, that each brand has its own flow rate. We recommend that you use the slow flow teat of bottles, especially designed for breastfed babies.
Use a rhythmic eating approach
Pace feeding is the practice of bottle feeding to slow down the process and better mimic breastfeeding.
Here's how to implement this bottle-feeding technique:
- Only feed on demand when your baby shows signs of hunger.
- Hold your baby upright while feeding instead of lying flat.
- Pass the teat of the bottle along your baby's mouth, then let him suckle the teat for one minute without taking milk. This is what breastfed babies are used to because they usually have to wait for their mother's let down reflex.
- Give 20-30 seconds of continuous suckling, then turn the bottle upside down to give the baby a break (while letting the teat touch your baby's mouth.) Baby will start suckling again when ready - that's when - you will tilt the bottle forward again to give it more milk. You will continue this process until your baby starts to turn her head and shows other signs of being full.
Adopting this approach to bottle feeding with your baby will favor a similar experience to breastfeeding. It also helps ensure that your baby doesn't drink too much at feeding time, which can also reduce the risk of reflux and gas.
If giving formula, use formula that most closely resembles breast milk
Formula will never be exactly like breast milk, but nowadays some are very close.
But first, here are some ingredients and things you want to look for while choosing a formula, that most closely resembles breast milk:
- DHA/ARA - these are non-essential fatty acids found in breast milk and found in most formulas on the market today.
- Nucleotides - these are found in large amounts in breast milk.
- Lactoferrin and Milk Fat Globule Membrane (MFGM) - these are proteins found in breast milk that contribute to the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding
As you do some research on this area, you'll also want to note if a brand mentions that it also tastes and/or has a texture similar to breast milk. If the taste and texture are really not the same, your baby will certainly be able to tell the difference.
However, we also want to recommend that you do not stress too much about finding the exact right formula. If you switch your baby to formula, it’ll likely go through an adjustment period, whichever one you choose.
Bottle feeding on both sides
Almost all breastfed babies drink milk from both breasts. By doing this, you reposition your baby when drinking milk to one side. You can also do this with the bottle. Have your toddler drink half of their bottle while holding them in one arm.
Then take a few minutes to burp your baby and give it the second half of the bottle while holding them in the opposite arm. This will allow him to change his point of view, which it was used to when it was breastfed!
Going from breast to bottle, a period where patience is the key word
If your baby has been breastfeeding for several months, it's important to keep in mind that the transition won't happen overnight. Every baby is different. Some will get used to the bottle quickly while others will need a little more time.
The key word during this period is “patience”. A baby who refuses a bottle can quickly make you lose your temper. But you need to stay as calm as possible. If you are stressed or tense, your baby will feel it and it will not help your baby relax.
Tell yourself that your baby will not starve to death. So, if your baby refuses the bottle, it's a normal reaction. Give it a little time to adapt and everything should go like clockwork!