There seems to be a common misconception that attachment parenting and bottle feeding are mutually exclusive. While it is true that attachment parenting is often talked about in conjunction with breastfeeding, attachment parenting does not in any way exclude parents who bottle feed.
It’s All about Meeting Needs
Attachment parenting is all about building a strong bond with your child; and when it comes to infants, it’s all about meeting their needs. Let’s be honest, babies are needy. Because they can do absolutely nothing for themselves, babies need their parents to understand their cues and respond appropriately. The parent that pays close attention to a baby’s needs builds a close bond with their child.
One of the most intense needs an infant has is to be fed. The more a parent understands and meets this need, the deeper the bond between them becomes.
The Intimacy of Feeding
Think about how intimate it is to have someone feed you. It is one of the most loving gestures someone can do for you. This is particularly true for babies. The more time you spend in close connection with your baby the stronger the bond you have will be.
Tips for Attachment Parenting and Bottle Feeding
When parents bottle feed an infant they tend to assume that it’s somehow vastly different than breastfeeding and infant. Though this can be true for some parents, it doesn’t have to be. The following are some ways that you can “bottle nurse” you baby.
- Feed on demand, don’t set a schedule for your baby.
- Hold your baby close. Don’t be tempted to prop a bottle for you baby or pawn feeding off on someone else. Feeding time is also snuggle time. Your baby craves the warmth of your arms as much as he craves a warm bottle.
- Make good eye contact. Babies love to see their parents and bond heavily through eye contact.
- Talk to or sing to your baby. Your baby listened to your voice for 9 months while he grew inside of you. And chances are he also heard his father and other close relatives. Your voice and the voices of those around you are very comforting to him and will be a welcomed part of feeding time.
- Hold your baby to your chest. A mother or father’s chest is the most comforting place for a baby to be. Even while bottle feeding your baby will find great comfort nestled against your chest.
- Practice “kangaroo care” or skin to skin contact. After a baby is born he needs close contact with your body. One way to provide this is by undressing your baby down to the diaper and nestling him inside of your shirt, or against your chest with a blanket wrapped over you. This technique can be used by both mothers and fathers to bring added comfort to a baby during feeding sessions, sleep and whenever he is fussy.
- Co-sleep with your baby. Babies are helpless and designed to be kept within reach of their parents as much as possible. If you are not comfortable having your baby in your bed, consider having him sleep in his crib next to your bed. Your instincts as a parent will kick in even in the night and this will insure your baby gets the best care he needs to be healthy. Babies take lots of cues from their parents and will often sleep better knowing that mom and dad are in the same room with them.
- Keep feeding supplies close at hand in the night. Breastfeeding mothers have the added benefit of being able to feed their baby without preparing a bottle. They can get to baby quickly, while he is still sleepy and nurse him back to sleep. As a bottle feeding family it can greatly help everyone to get much needed rest, if you keep supplies ready. Place premade bottles with a cold pack in a lunch box or other insulated bag near your bed. Purchase a bottle warmer and place that near your bed. When baby starts to fuss, heat up a premade bottle right away so you can feed him quickly and everyone can get back to sleep.
As you learn to care for your baby, learn more about the benefits or attachment parenting and listening to your child’s cues. This will keep your bond with your child growing through all the stages of life.