Breastfeeding your baby provides her with the most complete form of nutrition available and exposes her to antibodies that can decrease her risk of contracting some illnesses. Breast milk is such a valuable commodity that it’s often referred to as “liquid gold,” and is even banked in some communities so that babies whose mothers aren’t capable of breastfeeding can still receive the nutrition they need. The World Health Organization recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first year of life, but what’s a mom to do when she plans to return to work at the end of her scheduled maternity leave? Convincing a breastfed baby to take a bottle can be a challenge for even the most experienced caregiver, but it’s not impossible. These tips can help you get your child accustomed to accepting sustenance from a bottle so that she’s well fed when Nanny’s in charge.
While attachment parenting guru Dr. Sears does suggest that babies under four weeks of age not be introduced to bottle feeding to avoid nipple confusion, he also asserts that introducing a bottle around two weeks before Mom’s scheduled return to work can ease the transition. Slowly integrating bottle feeding in the weeks leading up to your return doesn’t have to mean that you’re switching to expressed milk exclusively, either. As long as you’re alternating between the breast and the bottle with only one or two bottle feedings per day, she should be able to adapt to both methods.
Practice With Dad
Watching Mom bond with the new baby and be exclusively responsible for feeding can be a bit frustrating for a new dad who feels that he’s been sidelined when it comes to the care of his child. When you start introducing bottle feeding in preparation for your return to work and the employment of a nanny, let Dad take the reins with bottles. Not only will this help your baby become accustomed to the idea of being fed by someone other than Mom, but also give the two of them time to bond as well.
Mimic Mom’s Scent
Draping a shirt that smells like Mom over the shoulder of someone else doing the bottle feeding can have good results when it comes to helping a breastfed baby take a bottle. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation suggests this method, asserting that some babies will find the scent of Mom to be comforting enough to encourage successful bottle feeding in her absence.
Make Mom Leave the Room
Bottle feeding a breastfed baby is typically more difficult if Mom is in the room, as it reminds a baby that her mother is nearby and that there is a breast available. Getting Mom to leave the room during bottle feeding sessions might help them to be more productive, and is especially important if it’s almost time for her return to work.
Experiment With Positioning
Just as every adult is different and each has their own set of individual likes and dislikes, so are babies. Some may prefer to be fed from a bottle while sitting upright or even facing away from a caregiver, while others respond better to the traditional cradle hold with plenty of skin contact and interaction that mimics the breastfeeding experience to a degree. Be prepared to try variable positioning to find what your baby responds to best.
Don’t Wait Until Baby is Extremely Hungry
Attempting to introduce a new experience or help an infant master an unfamiliar skill when she’s desperately hungry isn’t likely to have successful results. The feeling of being hungry is frustrating enough, and being unfamiliar with the sensation of feeding in a different way will only exacerbate that anxiety. Rather than waiting until a baby is extremely hungry in hopes that she’ll latch onto any form of sustenance available, try to bottle feed her when she’s feeling a bit more secure and content.
Choose Your Nipples Carefully
Silicone nipples designed for premature babies are recommended by the La Leche League for breastfed babies in preparation for a nursing mother’s return to work, but there are a variety of options on the market. As with positioning, every baby will have their own individual preferences. Try to have a variety of nipples on hand, and don’t be discouraged if one doesn’t seem to work out well. Baby’s refusal of one nipple doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t accept a bottle at all; it just may require a bit more experimentation to find the one that he likes.