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Parent bottle feeding a baby

How to Feed Baby a Bottle Using Paced Feeding

Dr. Mona Amin

Whether you choose to feed your baby from a bottle starting on day one or day 100, there are a few different bottle-feeding methods to try. Keep reading for three techniques and tips to make feeding a happier time for both you and baby.

  1. Paced bottle-feeding. This method slows the flow of milk into the nipple and the mouth, allowing the baby to eat more slowly and take breaks as needed. If breastfeeding and supplementing formula or pumped breastmilk in a bottle, paced bottle-feeding may be a good place to start. Often when we use regular bottle feeding, baby may start rejecting the breast because the speed of the milk flow is too slow and may become frustrating. With paced feeding, we are trying to mimic the flow and speed of breastfeeding. Paced bottle-feeding can also help with babies who are more prone to spit-up. This method helps baby regulate the amount of milk consumed and puts baby more in control of the feeding. It may also prevent over-feeding and spit up. Paced feeding is something that can be useful especially in the early days when you are starting to feed at the breast and give bottles or if your baby who was normally feeding well at the breast begins to become disinterested after being introduced to bottles.
    1. In this technique, keep baby a little more upright (sitting up rather than laying down).
    2. Tickle their lips with the bottle and allow them to wrap their lips around the bottle. Then, allow them to pull the nipple in.
    3. After baby feeds for about 30 seconds, pull the bottle down while keeping the nipple in baby’s mouth. Wait until they begin to suck again and then place the bottle back into a horizontal position.
    4. Eventually, when they stop sucking you know they are done feeding.
    5. Make sure to take breaks every few minutes, if needed, to burp the baby.
  2. Support baby’s neck in your elbow. In this method, your body and arm should be relaxed. If you are tense of your arms are tired, baby may get fidgety during feedings, so it’s important to be in a comfortable position.
  3. Support the back of baby’s head in your hand by making a C-shape with your thumb and index finger. This works well for newborns as it can give you more support for their small head and their lax neck strength. You can switch to the more traditional bottle-feeding method mentioned above as baby gets bigger and has more head and neck control.

Whichever method you choose, do not ever prop the feeding bottle up in baby’s mouth. This can lead to overfeeding or cavities for an older baby. Whenever you’re able, think about feeding times as a developmental activity. Enjoy the opportunity to coo, smile back or rub your baby’s head during feeding, whether it’s via bottle or breast.

About the author:

Dr. Mona Amin, Pediatrician.

Dr. Mona Amin Headshot

Dr. Mona Amin is a Board Certified General Pediatrician, Parenting expert, and mother.

She has been featured on, Romper, CondeNast Traveler, VeryWell Family, NBC News, and was named one of Insider’s Top Pediatricians to follow on social media for 2020. She works in private practice and her passions include: early childhood development, focusing on the impact of healthy sleep, a healthy relationship with food, and healthy coping skills in the first five years of a child’s life.

On her Instagram account (@pedsdoctalk), her podcast (The Pedsdoctalk Podcast), and YouTube channel (Pedsdoctalk TV), she shares educational information on parent’s most common concerns (i.e. fevers, rashes, viruses, behavioral issues, etc.) including current events. Her brand, Pedsdoctalk, has a goal to provide relatable and easy-to-digest education for the modern parent regarding the health and wellness of their child.

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