Pace Feeding – How to Bottle Feed a Breastfed Baby

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Want to know how to feed your breastfed baby a bottle?

Pace feeding is the best method for feeding your baby a bottle of expressed breast milk. It’s a technique designed to mimic the pace of breastfeeding. This will prevent you baby being overwhelmed or overfeeding with a baby bottle.

pace feeding

Benefits of Pace Feeding

If you need to feed your baby expressed milk then check out the reasons why you should use a paced bottle feeding technique.

  • Baby has control
  • Baby can eat at their own pace
  • Prevent overfeeding
  • Learning when they are full
  • Minimise fussiness or colic symptoms after feeding
  • Eases transition between breast and bottle
  • Improve babies hand eye coordination
  • Mimics bonding and interaction of breastfeeding

Choosing Baby Bottles

The type of baby bottles you use for feeding a breast fed baby is important. It’s important that the bottles:

  • Don’t cause nipple confusion
  • Mimic the breast

Basically you want to make it as easy as possible for baby to transition back and forth between the breast and bottle. Bottle feeding is much easier for baby, so they may start to prefer a bottle. For a baby who is exclusively breastfeeding we recommend a bottle with a:

  • Narrow base – This allows baby to have wide open and relaxed lips which reach the teat base for a good seal to mimic the breast.
  • New-born flow or size 1 teat – Prevent milk from flowing too quickly and baby needs to work the mouth muscles to get the milk.
  • Angles or flattened nipple – This mimics the shapes of moms’ nipple in the mouth. Breastfed babies have a tendency to prefer this shape over a standard nipple.
  • Latex Teat – Softer material makes it similar to moms’ nipple.

Our reviews found that the Comotomo bottles are best for breastfed babies. For more information on choosing bottles, teats and avoid nipple confusion check out these Expressing Mama articles:

How to Pace Feed a Baby

1. Wait for cues

Babies don’t follow a schedule, so let them tell you when they need to feed. You may already notice some feeding cues such as rooting, lip licking or fist chomping. Only feed baby when they start to show these signs. Your baby will want to feed more often just before a growth spurt.

2. Upright position

The best position is to have a baby upright, as if they are seated. Support their back and neck (not the head) as this allows them control of the milk flow. The worst position is to feed a baby who is lying of their back. This not only leads to increased risk of choking but higher rates of ear infections.

3. Be patient

Let baby take the teat into their mouth. Rub the bottle on their lower lip and they will want to latch onto the bottle. Never force the nipple into your baby’s mouth. Ensure relaxed lips cover the base of the teat and not just the nipple.

4. Horizontal bottle

Hold the bottle at a horizontal angle so baby needs to pull the milk from the teat. If the bottle is held at a downward angle the milk will drip out and baby won’t need to work for the milk.

5. Mimic the pace

Let you baby control the feeding pace. Monitor that they are feeding rhythmically by swallowing with every 1-2 sucks. Your baby should naturally stop after every 15-20 swallows. Let them take a break and restart when they are ready. If the keep going, you need to encourage them to take a break. You don’t need to take the nipple out the mouth, simply lean baby forward so the milk does not reach the nipple hole. When they realise there is no milk your baby will naturally stop sucking. Let them rest for 15-30 seconds and repeat. If you notice your baby pulling away, pushing the bottle or spitting the milk out, remove the teat, burp your baby and offer the bottle again. Disinterest indicates your baby is finished.

6. Switch sides

Switch feeding side either with alternate feeds or half way through every feed. This prevents baby developing a side preference which can cause problems when you are breastfeeding.

7. Take your time

A feed should take around 10-20 minutes, just like breastfeeding. You should avoid feeding baby lot as quickly as possible. Longer feeds give baby time to recognise they are full and stop when they want, preventing over feeding.

8. When baby is full

Baby will show cues such as forcing the nipple out the mouth, turning away or falling asleep. Never force your baby to finish a feed even if there is some milk left. If your baby is leaving too much milk with each feed reduce the amount of breast milk with in the next bottle. This is easy to do if you store expressed milk in 1oz portions.


Alternative Methods

If your baby is struggling to use a baby bottle there are alternative methods to feeding expressed breast milk. The method you choose will depend on your baby’s feeding needs and circumstances. Check out our article on alternative baby feeding methods.

Paced Bottle Feeding Demonstration