Over the past few weeks I have been to a few jobs where the mother has needed to give their breastfeeding baby, a bottle for various reasons i.e. Mum is going back to work, or is having an operation, so the move to bottle feeding is necessary.

The babies have been varying ages from 3-9mths. The process is never easy and can be distressing for the mum and baby, as it means mum can’t breastfeed until the baby has taken a bottle.

So my No1 top tip is to give baby one bottle a day as soon as breastfeeding is established so at about 4-6 weeks. This ensures that if the baby is breastfeeding and anything does happen to the mum, then the baby will be happy feeding from a bottle.

There are many other benefits of bottle feeding:-

  • Partner/Grandparents can give baby a bottle and increase bonding
  • Mum can get some sleep if someone else can do a night feed
  • You know how much food baby has had
  • If you give a bottle early evening it can fill the baby and stop the baby cluster feeding
  • More flexibility for Mum if she’s not keen on breastfeeding in public

New Parents are often told that giving bottles can cause nipple confusion for the baby, meaning the baby won’t feed properly from the breast after having a bottle, but I can honestly say that in over 30 years I have never seen this happen from just giving baby ONE bottle per day.

I know that breastfeeding correctly is important, but I believe flexibility is a prime factor in mothers lives nowadays and knowing they can take some time for themselves, now and again or get a solid chunk of sleep and their partner can be more involved is invaluable.

Using the correct bottle is definitely key to making the switch easier and some bottles are better than others for the baby to accept, like Dr Brown’s/ Mam bottles. Some can help with the babies sucking if they’re having trouble breastfeeding like the Haberman feeder which doesn’t release the milk until the baby sucks so it replicates breastfeeding.

Also if mums choose to pump and give the expressed milk by bottle it can be useful to see how much milk is being produced.

Some mums take this chance to introduce a formula feed by bottle to help the transition from breast milk easier if they are not planning on breastfeeding long term.

The earlier you start baby on a bottle the better they take it, mum can get some sleep… and sleep makes breastmilk!

“My daughter Rose is 9mths old and when she was born I was advised from several different people not to give a bottle as she might not take the breast again. This has meant that I have been with her constantly to ensure she was never without food and as a result she has refused to take the bottle.

With Jackie’s help however she is now taking a bottle happily and my life has changed overnight! It was daunting at first as I thought it might lessen the bond between us but I have found it really hasn’t made any difference…and the fact that my husband and mum can now feed her allowing me to have some time to myself is AMAZING. I really wish I had done it sooner and tell all my friends to start giving a bottle as soon as possible”

Sophie, London