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3 Tips for Weaning from Breast to Bottle


Weaning from breast to bottle is a process that can take weeks to accomplish. Babies who are accustomed to breast milk may not want to drink from a bottle at first, making it important to create a gentle transition to the bottle. Here are three tips to ease your baby into this adjustment:

1. Use Feeding Accessories

When weaning from breast to bottle, the nipple may be what confuses the baby at first. The feel of the nipple in the baby's mouth may not feel like the mother's nipple, creating the confusion. You may need to experiment with different nipples to find a type that the baby will accept. There are nipples made from rubber and those made from silicone. The silicone nipples are more sturdy, but some babies may prefer the feel of the rubber because it is softer and more pliant. There are also different nipple shapes, some of which are made to mimic the shape of a mother's nipple. Try a few different shapes if your baby continues to reject the bottle. 

When you are weaning from the breast, the milk itself may be the problem at first. Some mothers choose to put breast milk into the bottles for a while to make the transition easier. When feeding the baby from a bottle, warm the milk to about body temperature with a bottle warmer. This warms the contents of the bottle gently and without creating any hot spots. And unlike microwaves, they can be used for both breast milk and formula. 

2. Cut Down on Feedings

Cutting down on the number of times that you nurse your baby will help the baby to gradually become accustomed to taking a bottle. At first, try substituting one breastfeeding session with a bottle feeding. After a few days, replace two feedings with bottle feedings. Continue substituting another feeding with a bottle feeding every few days until the baby is being exclusively fed from the bottle.

Weaning slowly is generally easier for babies, but it is also easier for mothers. When you wean slowly over the course of two weeks or more, your breasts will gradually slow down milk production. This keeps you from uncomfortable gorging and the need to pump to relieve the pressure. If you decide to wean your baby even more slowly, eliminating one breastfeeding session every week, it will be even easier on you both. 

3. Stay Close to the Baby

One of the things that babies love about nursing is the close contact with you. When you wean the baby, make sure that the baby still gets plenty of close contact, with skin-to-skin contact preferred. If the baby seems unhappy with bottle feeding, give her extra time cuddling quietly. If someone else will be feeding the bottle to the baby, make sure to mention cuddling closely with the baby to make it easier to get used to being fed by someone else.

Some mothers find that if they are in the room while someone else is feeding the baby, there may be some distress and rejection of the bottle. If this occurs, stay out of sight while the baby is being fed until she becomes accustomed to the situation.

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