Bottle Pacing For Breastfed Baby

Bottle pacing for a breastfed baby is the method which allows the baby to have better control over how much milk is coming out of the bottle.  Doing this helps prevent the baby from overeating which can cause discomfort and spit-ups.  You can use this method for your baby even if you are currently breast feeding while also bottle feeding. 

According to the Minnesota WIC Programs Department of Health, this is the preferred method for any babies that receives bottles, whether fully on the bottle, or fed from both the bottle and breast.

Why do we pace while bottle-feeding?

The goal of pacing is to copy the mother’s let-down pattern.  A let-down is when the milk flows.  Mothers have several let-downs when breastfeeding.  Then the milk is flowing, the baby swallows.  Between let-downs, the flow of milk slows which gives the baby a chance to rest for a few seconds.

How long should you do paced bottle feeding?

Many moms often ask how long they should do paced bottle feeding with their babies.  Most often, it’s more important to pick up on your babies cues rather than adhere to a specific schedule.  If your baby is still being breastfed, you can typically expect to bottle feed the same amount of time that you breastfeed. 

It’s important to realize that every baby is different.  Some babies swallow 12 times before resting, while others can swallow 25 times or more.  If you watch your baby while breastfeeding, you will get a good indication on how to bottle pace your baby.

Is paced bottle feeding necessary?

Paced bottle feeding is a very healthy and safe form of bottle feeding your baby.  Allowing your baby to mimic their unique ways of breastfeeding will allow your baby to get less gas by swallowing air.  Most health care professionals recommend paced bottle feeding.

What happens if you don’t pace feed?

If you don’t pace feed your baby, your baby has a chance at having one of the following reactions:

  • Chokes
  • Gulps
  • looks worried
  • guzzles without breathing

These are also signs that you may need a slower flow nipple.  This is a great learning opportunity for you and your baby if you study and learn your infants behaviors to maximize bottle feeding.

Does paced bottle-feeding cause gas?

Paced bottle feeding can cause gas as does breast feeding sometimes.  When your baby swallows air, it will get trapped as gas.  Sometimes this can also lead to the baby spitting up the food they just ate.  Just think about the feeling you have when you swallow air when drinking.  It’s extremely uncomfortable!

Step-by-step how to pace feed with a bottle

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Once you have found your babies swallow patter, follow these steps:

Step 1) Hold your baby semi-reclined, halfway between sitting up and laying down.

Step 2) Rest the nipple on your babies lips and wait for your baby to take the nipple in and begin to suck.

Step 3) After your baby begins sucking, tip the bottle up so milk flows. 

Step 4) Count your babies swallows.  When the number of swallows is about the same as cycle 1 (please review this sheet) of your let-down, your baby needs to rest.

Step 5) Empty the nipple by tipping the bottle down and sitting the baby up.  Do not remove the nipple from your baby’s mouth.  Babies stay latched during breastfeeding and need to stay latched while bottle-feeding too.

Step 6) When your baby begins sucking again, tip the bottle back up so milk flows. Loosely follow the let-down pattern.

Make sure to burp your baby mid-feed.

Step 7) When your baby stops sucking, he or she is finished.

We hope that you found this article very informative and helpful on your breastfeeding and/or bottle feeding journey! 

Noodle Soup is a nationally renowned health promotions company that specializes in low-cost, low-literacy, high-quality educational materials. We work with the public health and family service community helping pregnant women, new mothers, parents, and children.

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Noodle Soup
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