Bottle Feeding, Then & Now

When Stella was born, we weren’t originally planning on me going back to work for awhile. Even so, I always knew I wanted Stella to be able to drink out of a bottle so that I’d have a little freedom for getting out of the house and for having a few drinks, so I started pumping and we gave Stella her first bottle at 3w6d. We had a couple of false starts trying to find the right bottle, but as soon as we found Dr. Brown’s we had a winner! ย When Stella was 7 weeks old I was offered a job starting the next week, so we were really thankful that she was already used to drinking breast milk from a bottle on occasion.

This time around we know already that I’ll be going back to work when Harvey is 8w old, so last night we had Charlie give him his first bottle of breast milk at 3w4d, and he drank it like a champ! Stella was very interested, and I’m sure she’ll be helping feed her “favorite baby” soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

When reading back over this post I realized that Charlie is dressed almost identically in both sets of pictures. You can tell it’s winter in Colorado and he’s a concrete worker for sure! LOL

— A few tips I learned about bottle feeding last time:

1) Wait to introduce a bottle until breastfeeding is established, but don’t wait too long or it could be hard to get them to drink from a bottle at all. We’ve had good luck starting at 3 1/2 -4 weeks.

2) Once the baby takes a bottle, don’t stop offering it! We kept giving Stella a bottle every couple of days until I started work to keep her in the routine of eating from either breast or bottle. Once I was back at work, she would drink out of a bottle during the day 4 days per week, and almost exclusively from the breast the other 3 days, and she never had issues switching back and forth.

3) Don’t assume your baby doesn’t like a bottle if s/he refuses the 1st one you try. We started with Medela last time, and Stellaย hated them. She choked and spit up, even with the newborn slow flow nipple. Same thing for a couple of other brands we tried. It wasn’t until we found Dr. Brown’s bottles that we knew we had a winner! They really did seem to help with her gassiness, and the flow was slow enough she wasn’t choking.

4) Don’t increase the nipple flow as the baby ages unless s/he seems really frustrated. We never did go up to Level 2 nipples on Stella’s bottles – she used the same, slow flow nipples from 3 weeks until we bottle weaned her at a year! I believe it helped her eat more slowly and not ingest so much air, plus it made the speed of milk flow she got from the breast and the bottle more comparable.

5) Don’t assume you need to heat the bottle. I know it sounds weird, but my friend gave me that advice with Stella, and she always took her bottles cold out of the fridge. It was so nice to not worry about having to heat the bottle when we were on the go, in the car, etc. This time I heated Harvey’s bottle last night, but once he’s used to drinking out of a bottle, we’ll try giving him cold milk as well for the same reason. It might work, it might not, but it was definitely handy with Stella!

6) If the baby doesn’t drink the entire bottle at once (we always had 3-4 oz portions in a bottle), in my experienceย (I am not a doctor!)ย they can be used for up to 4 hours. Kelly Mom says it can be refrigerated and offered within 1-2 hours, but we routinely followed the 4 hr rule with Stella with no issues.

I hope these tips help someone else who is needing to bottle feed in addition to breastfeeding!

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34 comments

  1. I kind of love that Charlie is wearing the *exact same outfit* in both sets of pics! Good tip on the cold bottle. I got massive side eye on this one, but it’s fine! If they’ll drink it, why not? We had good luck out of the gate with the Medela Calma nipple, but it is loooooooong.

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    1. Ya, his shirt now has HIS company logo instead of another company’s logo – that’s the only difference. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Isn’t it funny about the cold bottle? Never would have occurred to me to try, but ppl drink cow’s milk cold, so why not? It’s probably part of why S had no prob transitioning to cold cow’s milk a one year old either!

      Never tried the Calma nipple – just the standard Medela bottles that came with my pump, and those definitely didn’t work for either of my kids!

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  2. I agree about the nipple size. Taylor stayed at newborn nipples until she weaned at a year and had no problem sucking down 6oz of bm in 10 mins. We already had to go up to level two with Alex because he was getting frustrated, and he still only drinks 4-5 oz at a time and it can take him an hour to finish.

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    1. Interesting how every kid is so different! Good to know. Maybe we’ll end up using those level 2s with Harvey after all. We shall see. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. We had waited way to long before offering Ava a bottle so when I went back to work it was a struggle. I was also told about nipple confusion and so worried. If we get prego again I definitely plan on offering a bottle once BF is established and going well. We never switched Ava to faster nipples either. It worked great for us too!

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    1. I just want to add it melts my heart watching Stella with Harvey. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    2. Ya, I think it’s hard for ppl to find the sweet spot of how soon to offer a bottle without worrying about nipple confusion & faster flow preference. About 4 weeks seems to be the sweet spot for us!

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  4. Funny you mentioned C’s outfit because that’s the first thing I noticed too, that and the fact that it doesn’t look like he’s aged at all! I’m so glad to hear that Harvey is taking the bottle well. That was not something I was prepared for Drake to struggle with and it was very stressful for all of us. One thing I just learned yesterday is that you aren’t supposed to shake a bottle of breast milk – I had no idea!

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    1. I didn’t know that, Steph! Why aren’t you supposed to shake it?

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      1. It breaks apart the shaped molecules of the protective proteins. You can swirl it like a tornado but you aren’t supposed to shake it. I found this link on kellymom.com; http://www.bflrc.com/ljs/breastfeeding/shakenot.htm

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        1. Good to know! I usually swirl, but sometimes shake if the milk had really separated in the fridge. I won’t anymore!

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  5. Since I struggled with latch with both Raegan and Cavan, we offered the bottle very early on. Raegan never went back to the breast, but I think that had more to do with her size than anything. Cavan has no problem going back and forth. He gets one bottle a night every night just to keep him in the routine of taking a bottleโ€ฆ.as for the cold bottle, if your child has reflux, I wouldn’t recommend it as in my experience it causes more reflux. But I don’t always heat the bottle, I offer it a room temperature most times.

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    1. Ya, Stella was a bad spitter-upper (not true reflux obviously), but she did that whether she was drinking warm milk from my breast, warm milk from a bottle, or cold milk from a bottle, so we figured why bother warming it up?! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m so glad that Cavan has done so well going back and forth! You are my hero for EPing with Raegan.

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  6. I think I am going to try the bottle around 4 wks this time around. My first I weaned at 6 months due to supply issues when I was pregnant with the second, so he was totally fine with bottles. But my next 2 were BF for a year each, and they took the bottle initially but I got lazy about offering it regularly since I am at home and had other little ones…so both pretty much NEVER took a bottle but finally went to a sippy. I want this little guy to be used to taking it so mommy doesn’t have to rush home to feed him as he gets older and my husband can help feed him too once in awhile ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Ya, I had multiple friends warn me that if you don’t continue with bottles, a lot of babies will quit drinking from them, even if they did fine at one time. It’s definitely nice to be able to have your partner do a feeding from time to time!

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  7. I’m so glad that Harvey is fine taking a bottle. That is a awesome.

    And I’m intrigued by your 4 hour rule. We’ve thrown so much milk away following the 1 hour rule. It would be nice to have more time to use it.

    Finally, I would add that sometime changing to a higher level nipple can actually HELP bottle feeding problems. As you know we’ve had a LOTS of suck issues, both nursing and bottle feeding. When he turned three months old we switched to a level 2 nipple and it alleviated many of our problems. So, I’m just saying… Sometimes making that change can help.

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    1. Yeah, I asked other mommy friends about how long they would give a bottle, and most said 3-4 hrs as long as it was in a house that was < 70 degrees (which is no prob in here CO – rarely are our houses above that temp). Like I said, I'm not a doc, but it worked for us.

      Good to know about the nipple / suck issue you figured out!

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  8. My daughter would never take a bottle until she was about 12 weeks old, although I’m a SAHM so it wasn’t a big deal, but for us it seemed to the problem was the bottle nipple, she needed the high flow nipples or she would refuse to take a bottle, so some babies do prefer the higher flow ones. And then when she was around 6 months old she refused the bottle and would only drink out of straw cups, she shunned sippy cups too. My daughter is unique in that regards I guess. I found that my daughter also preferred milk right out of the fridge or room temperature. We too followed the 4 hour rule, all my relatives always did that, so I did too. It’s the same rule people follow when bottle feeding baby goats, if they don’t eat it all in one sitting, finish it up at the next feeding in 4 hours with no adverse affects, I only mention that because I had to bottle feed one of my baby goats last year and seen the similar time comparison and how that seems to work across the board for all mammals. I think a lot of people are just so paranoid about contamination and bacteria and all that now that they often throw out stuff when they don’t need to.

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    1. I agree about ppl being overly worried about the timeline on milk. Same with groceries – I know so many ppl that throw out food by the “sell by” date, when you know darn well you still have days to eat it and you’d be fine!

      Stella’s BFF loved straw cups instead of regular sippy cups as well!

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  9. Cracks me up that he’s wearing the same shirt. ๐Ÿ™‚ And thanks for not being a milk-time nazi. People are so weird about those timelines and waste such expensive formula!!

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    1. I know, right?!
      Our bottles are actually of pumped breastmilk (also an expensive commodity time-wise, I loathe pumping, especially at work!!) and it’s crazy to me how much milk & formula a lot of ppl waste by throwing it away.

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  10. We had to switch to a higher flow bottle almost immediately, as e was so premature he would fall asleep after 1/2 oz and needed to take at least two. He could handle the higher flow without sputtering. We just switched from medela to avent natural flow because he has need spitting up so much in the last two months.

    My milk has to be warmed to at least room temperature, e will not take it refrigerator cooled, and my milk separates so much in the fridge, the fat that rises to the top clogs the nipple! It has to be warmed slightly to reconstitute.
    We too follow the 4 hour rule, but Nate asks me every time if it is ok to give the leftover milk.

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    1. It’s interesting to me that some babies NEED to switch to the higher nipple (many have mentioned this in the comments) when for Stella it was the opposite! This is why I love blogging and hearing about different people’s experiences.

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  11. mcmissis · · Reply

    We gave Gracie a few bottles here and there at about 4 weeks, I think. Then when I quit my job my first day back, she never had another. We definitely were the “don’t stop giving it or they’ll stop taking it” example. Then I think we maybe gave Lyla a try twice? We’ll see if Poppy ever does haha

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    1. Well, you’re a SAHM and you’re not much of a drinker, so I’d assume you have low motivation to bother with pumping and bottle feeding. ๐Ÿ™‚

      MORE PICS OF POPPY PLEASE!

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  12. Awesome! that is so true about the cold bottles. After Avery turned 3 months old we never heated the bottle. And she never seemed to care. We followed a similar thing on the nipple size too, she was weaned from bottles at 1 and she was still using the level 2 nipple.
    Glad it is going well!

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  13. NEw to your blog! I keep my bottles when my baby doesn’t finish them too. Im not wasting that!

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  14. St. Elsewhere · · Reply

    Well, it’s true. Charlie does need new clothes. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I found myself nodding at most of your points. A couple of parents who complained to me that their child never took the bottle, never introduced the bottle to the kid till he/she was a few months old! Once the mum decided she was going back to work, and then attempting the bottle made it a uphill task.

    I remember that Figzy was a about 3 plus weeks when I tried a bottle with her, and she took it, but I did not really re-visit the bottle till she was 6 weeks plus, and I had to add formula in her diet. And she took both – she was breast fed as well as bottle fed.

    I changed the nipple flow only after 6 months, because F started getting very frustrated with the then-arrangement.

    And score, F neither takes her milk sweetened or warm. She always has it at room temp, or sometimes right out of the refrigerator. Works for everyone.

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  15. I think Ryan and Charlie share the same wardrobe ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ we just did our garage and boat she concrete slab except its middle of summer and he was in shorts and a singlet. Does Charlie brag about how awesome he is at concreting? I hear it all the time!

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    1. LOL, no, but it’s his company & full time job, so he probably knows I’d make fun of him if he bragged about his skills!

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      1. Oh no, Ryan has his own building and construction business he just still likes to let me know that he still has it. Pathetic!

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  16. I agree that 3-4 weeks is a sweet spot to start bottles. We waited too long with Leila and the first bottles were a struggle at 5-6 weeks. Neither of mine were/are keen on bottles though–with Mira we quite literally had to give her one every single day for her to keep taking it, something we learned the hard way.

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  17. haha love that Charlie is wearing almost the exact same thing!! Lids never loved a bottle.. she hated it at first and then eventually would take one now and then but never very happily. I am hoping #2 is different to give Anthony (and Lids!) a chance to feed baby and for me to drink more ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think introducing it a bit earlier this time might help as Lids just loved the boobs too much by then!!

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  18. […] Tips for introducing a bottle to a newborn […]

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