Friday, June 20, 2008

Frustrated Mama Tip: Paced Bottle Feeding for Getting Back to Breast

Paced bottle feeding is a way to slow the feeding down for baby.

It has several benefits as follows:
  • It makes the feed more variable, like the breast – so baby doesn’t get to gulp down “easy” milk. This often makes BF easier for a baby that has gotten a preference for the faster/easier flow of the bottle.
  • It prevents baby from gulping so much air – which helps with spitting up and reflux.
  • It helps prevent baby from overeating – which helps with spitting up and reflux, as well as setting baby up to gain too much weight too fast which has implications later on for baby as fat cells never go away!
  • It helps baby maintain their oxygen saturation. Many bottle fed babies experience decreases in oxygen saturation due to the mechanics of the bottle.
Basically, with the bottle, the flow is continuous. Once they suck – they must continue to suck/swallow/suck/swallow or choke as the mouth fills again and again with fluid. Thus, the pattern is typically, gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp, GASP, gulp, gulp, gulp, GASP, SPUTTER, Gulp, Gulp….etc. This pattern also has the nasty side effect of making mom think baby was “hungrily gulping” down the bottle (which they’ll take after BF even if they are full because they don’t know better) and make her think she was starving the poor babe. Paced gives baby a chance to end the feeding, instead of being forced to finish.

After awhile all infants learn to end a feeding when full by turning away or spitting it out, but very young babies and babies with little or no bottle experience (i.e., BF babies) don’t know to do this. Thus, they also end up associating being “overfull” with being satisfied. Then, they end up taking in these huge volumes. There is some research that suggests a link between all this and obesity later in life…as the person learns to think that they are only full when stuffed to the gills…Babies who used paced feeding also take in less food. If we remember that the average BF baby only eats 24 oz or so a day, you can again see where paced puts baby back at a more normal volume.

That all said – lots of good reasons to use paced feeding whether you are BF or not!

Here is how to do paced feeding:

Offer bottle to baby for 2 sips. Quickly remove the bottle. Wait for a clearing swallow and a breath, pop bottle back in for another 2 sips. Repeat.

This sounds easy, but it isn’t innate and it feels “Wrong” at first. Also, baby may be VERY mad and get angry at the bottle being taken out. Just remember, this is to help baby and he’ll get over being mad. My daughter was very angry at first, but quickly learned to like it and ejected the bottle every couple sips to get some air. Much more like BF. For a baby who really likes that easy/fast bottle flow, it disrupts the meal enough that often they realize that the breast is a better place to be – no interruptions! They are left alone to nurse and drink to their own content. I’ve found MANY former babies who liked to do the “breast freak out” eventually went on to prefer the breast over the bottle after using paced feeding.

Let me know what you think of this "Frustrated Mama Tip". I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!

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