Planning to Be Away from Your Baby: Introducing a Bottle

Planning to Be Away from Your Baby: Introducing a Bottle

If your baby is going to be bottle-fed
when you aren’t there, start introducing the bottle before you go back to work. Just
remember that it’s best to breastfeed a baby exclusively for the first 3 to 4 weeks.
This
lets your body establish milk production before separation from the baby. It also
helps to
prevent “nipple confusion” between the breast and the artificial nipple. Introducing
the
bottle for substitute or supplementary feedings before 4 weeks can help lead to a
decrease
in milk production.

How you introduce the bottle when
getting ready to return to work may depend on the length of your maternity leave.
If you
must return to work 4 to 8 weeks after giving birth, start by adding a bottle of your
expressed milk about 1 or 2 weeks beforehand. Choose a feeding when you may normally
be
away from your baby and only give them a bottle during that time. This may help your
baby
adapt more easily to the change, as by then it will be a part of their regular routine.
But
you may want to limit the amount in the bottle. Then your baby will be ready to breastfeed
in 2 to 3 hours.

For a longer maternity leave, you may
want to introduce a bottle with your milk by 4 to 6 weeks. Keep offering small amounts
of
your milk from a bottle on most days. This will keep the routine a familiar part of
your
baby’s life. And it will help make things easier when you go back to work.

Some babies won’t take a bottle from
their mother. Your partner or someone else may need to give them the bottle. This
will also
help your baby adjust to having someone other than you give the feedings. Also, not
all
bottle nipples are alike. Some tend to be more compatible with breastfeeding than
others.
And some babies prefer one type over another. Talk with your baby’s healthcare provider
or
a lactation consultant about for advice. Be aware that some babies may have such a
strong
preference for the breast that they will only take just enough from a bottle to “get
by”
while their mother is away. They will make up for this by nursing more when you are
around.

If you don’t have to return to work
until the second part of your baby’s first year, you may not even need to introduce
a
bottle. Older babies often do well when drinking directly from a cup or a sipper-type
cup.