Weeks 5 – 10
Breastfeeding and Switching to Bottles
While your baby is still most likely waking for nighttime feedings, you might be wondering: Are things getting easier or am I just becoming numb to the sleep deprivation? As you’ll find throughout these first few months, things that once seemed impossible eventually become second nature. However, you still might have some looming questions and concerns, such as:
- Breastfeeding problems
- Switching to Formula
- Reducing milk production
- General formula feeding
- General breastfeeding
New feeding issues you might encounter this month include:
Supplementing with Formula:
If you’re planning on supplementing with formula rather than breast milk – whether because of convenience, breast infection or your future work schedule – then this is a good time to make the introduction. Follow our advice on introducing the bottle, but also check out our tips on formula feeding.
- If you’re worried about your milk supply, know that your supply is more stable in the second month, and a few nursing sessions are better than none. Although replacing breastfeeding sessions with a bottle (whether it’s breast milk or formula) will reduce your supply, for many moms it is possible to produce milk with only a few feedings a day.
- Your baby will still benefit from breast milk’s unique antibody properties while being able to provide you with the convenience of formula. A little breast milk is better than none.
- Your baby’s bowel movements might become slightly less loose as formula is introduced. Plus, he or she might stay fuller longer.
Introducing the Bottle
Even if you aren’t supplementing with formula, there will come a time (as impossible as it seems right now) where you’ll be away from the baby long enough to miss a scheduled feeding. Whether you’re returning to work in a few weeks or just need a date night with your partner, it’s a good idea to get your baby used to drinking from a bottle – after your milk supply is stable, of course. Most lactation experts agree that two to four weeks is generally the time when your body works out the breastfeeding kinks and figures out supply-and-demand proportions.
If you’d rather not introduce a bottle whatsoever (it’s just another thing to wean them from, right?) then that’s perfectly fine as well. While it’s nice to have the freedom to leave the house for more than three hours, keep in mind that missing a scheduled feeding time will require you to find somewhere to pump in order to avoid engorgement, clogged milk ducts and a compromised milk supply. For more information on pumping read our breastfeeding guide.
Even if you don’t plan on giving your baby a bottle, it’s a good idea to pump and store at least six bottles in the freezer, just in case of an emergency where you are physically separated from the baby.
Tips for easing your baby from breast to bottle:
- Have someone else make that first feeding from the bottle. If there’s a choice between a foreign bottle and a nearby breast, it’s pretty obvious which will win. If you have to do the feeding, cover up those breasts.
- Wait until your baby is definitely hungry, but not when he or she is frantically starving. A hysterical baby is likely to get more upset that a breast isn’t available for comfort.
- There are different types of nipples, so this might be a trial-and-error period to see which one is accepted. Many bottle companies offer nipples specifically designed for the breast-to-bottle transition, which are a little wider.
- Around six weeks is the perfect time to make the transition: Both you and the baby have (hopefully) gotten a hang of breastfeeding, yet it’s still early enough for them to accept a change. If you wait too long, the baby might be so used to the breast that a rubber imposter will not do.
- If your baby resists drinking from the bottle, try feeding her facing out (rather than cuddling her). Some babies will drink while they’re entertained by the view out of a window or even while sitting on the front lawn watching traffic.
- Let your baby decide how much milk to drink. There aren’t measuring cups on your breasts, so you really have no idea how much your baby is actually drinking. Finally seeing the actual number might be distressing if it’s less than you imagined. Trust your baby to eat what he or she is comfortable with, which can be anywhere from two to five ounces.
- If you’re introducing the bottle in preparation of returning to work, start using the bottle at least two weeks before your first day back. If you’re going to be away for three feedings a day, start off by offering one bottled feeding a day and work up to three by the time you’ll be back to work.