From Breast to Bottle: How to Make the Transition Gradually and Blissfully
It's a good start for mothers to get the hang of breastfeeding eventually. By now, you're acquainted with the different benefits of breastfeeding for you and your baby. But the goal is you have to think long term. Eventually, after your maternity leave, you're going to have to go back to work. If you're a stay-at-home mom, you're eventually going to need to run some errands. The point is that there will be times wherein you need to leave your baby alone. The problem is that you have your breasts with you, of course. How, then, will your child be fed?
So then we go to the next step of motherhood: being able to teach your child to transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding. As much as it's beneficial to allow your child to breastfeed for as long as you still have milk, it may not 'always' be practical to do so.
You can start when he's at least a month old. Before you start bottle feeding, make sure that he/she "masters" the art of breastfeeding first. If you're going to have to return to work as soon as possible, you should give it two-weeks prior to teach your child how to get the hang of drinking in a bottle.
The best way to slowly transition from your breast to a bottle is to give your child a bottle of milk after his regular evening feeding. In this way, you are starting to introduce to him the silicon nipple. You can't expect your baby to latch on the nipple and like it immediately. There will be countless times that they're unfamiliar with the texture and smell of the nipple that they'd consider it foreign. Hence, it will take them a while to get used to it. You can try to remove the nipple from his mouth every now and then when he cries and not push it. But don't immediately breastfeed your child. In this way, he won't associate it with immediate gratification.
Next, you have to check the flow of milk. Is the nipple too large for your child's mouth? Or is he sucking it too fast? The nipple may be the reason why your child doesn't want to bottle-feed. You can try to replace the nipple with a slow-flow one, so your child's mouth won't be flooded with milk.
Another trick is to have someone else feed your child. Your baby can recognize your scent even if they're going fast asleep. In this sense, why will the baby pick a bottle over the breasts that have given him comfort since he was born? If someone else is bottle-feeding your child, you can also try to maintain your distance. Your child can still smell you even if you're not the one holding him! So it might help your child to be less fussy and demanding for your breast milk.
Another way to help your child get used to the nipple is to find one that's similar to his pacifier. You can also warm the bottle nipple first and putting on some of your breast milk into it so your child could recognize the initial taste and would eventually want for more. One thing you shouldn't do is that don't put honey on the tip of the nipple! It increases the risk of infant botulism, especially in children that are younger than one year.
You can also try experimenting on the different temperatures of the bottle milk. Usually, breast milk is a bit warmer than the usual room temperature bottle milk. So it might help that you warm his milk up a bit before serving it to your child.
As much as possible, don't try to give your child breastmilk as soon as they resist the bottle. They won't learn this way. You can try for at least three times and if you're still unsuccessful, give it some time before latching him or her in.
These are some ways you can try out when trying to transition your child from your breast to a bottle. Sure, it's not an easy thing to do, and it's not something that happens overnight. So you have to be patient! It's not mainly a blissful journey, but you can make it one by understanding your baby's needs and being patient in training him to get acquainted with the bottle.