Introducing a bottle or cup to a breastfed baby can take some patience and practice. Early childhood education and care services and parents can work together to make the transition easier. The Encouraging & Supporting Breastfeeding in Childcare Resource Kit contains a number of other practical tips and ideas on how to support breastfeeding at your service.
1. Play to learn
Let your baby learn about bottles and cups by giving one as a toy a few days before you try bottle– or cup-feeding. Your baby can explore it with his hands and mouth, and will be more familiar with it during the first bottle– or cup-feeding.
2. Share the love
Have someone else other than the baby’s mother give the first bottle or cup. Mum might need to leave the room, if not the house, while the bottle or cup is being offered. Many breastfed babies won’t take a bottle or cup if they can tell their mother (and her breasts) are nearby.
3. Hold me upright.
It can help to hold your baby upright during the feeding. This allows your baby to control the flow of the breastmilk and to stop feeding when he has had enough to eat.
4. Share the load
Try changing your baby’s position, or the arm that the baby is being held with, halfway through the feeding. This gives your baby the same visual stimulation they get while breastfeeding and keeps the baby from developing a preference for one side or the other. If your baby is fussy during the feeding, try several different positions.
5. Hold me close
Hold your baby often between feedings. This prevents your baby from learning to demand feedings just so that he is held as much as he needs to be.
6. Timing is everything
Try offering the bottle when your baby is showing early (not late) feeding cues or a little before his regular feeding time. You want him to be hungry but not so hungry that he doesn’t have patience for trying something new.
7. Taste test
Put a few drops of breastmilk on the bottle nipple. This will encourage your baby to suck. Don’t worry if your baby chews on the nipple. By playing with it, he might get comfortable enough to figure out how to suck it.
There are many kinds of slow-flow bottles and nipples and many kinds of cups—if baby doesn’t seem to like the first kind you try, try a different one.
For further information
For further information on supporting breastfeeding at your Service, download the Encouraging & Supporting Breastfeeding in Childcare Resource Kit or contact the Munch & Move® program at Southern NSW Local Health District.