How to Prevent Nipple Confusion
Being a breast-feeding mom is hard work, which is why it’s not uncommon for a nursing mother to want a break at some point. No matter how little or big the break is, when the time comes for mom to step away, the last thing she’ll want to have to worry about is her little one refusing a bottle. Or worse yet, the baby refuses to nurse after being introduced to a bottle. The best approach to preventing what many call “nipple confusion” is a preventive approach.
What is nipple confusion? Simply put, nipple confusion is when baby has a difficult time distinguishing how he should suck. Although getting milk from a bottle is not all that different than getting milk from mom, it’s much easier getting milk from a bottle. Baby has to work a little harder to get milk from mom, which is why it’s important to hold off on giving bay a bottle for a bit.
Don’t Give Baby a Bottle Too Soon
As much as you may need that break, if you want to continue to breast feed, most experts agree to wait until your baby is about 4 weeks of age to introduce a bottle. By four weeks, your milk supply should be established and your baby should have mastered the art of nursing.
Once you feel your baby has gotten the hang of breast feeding and you’ve established your milk supply, don’t hesitate to give him a bottle.
Choosing the Right Bottle and Nipple
Does the type of bottle used make a difference? The type of bottle, or more specifically the type of nipple used, can make a difference as to whether or not your little guy develops nipple confusion. When looking for a nipple, choose one that’s designed to mimic your anatomy. Typically, nipples designed for breastfeeding mothers are wider and have a flat tip. Using a nipple designed to be more like you will help ease the constant transition between bottle and breast.
Check Your Baby’s Latch
Although your baby has mastered breastfeeding, don’t assume he can’t pick up a few bad habits along the way. Once you’ve introduced baby to bottle, it can’t hurt to remind him of how his tongue should be placed before latching on. To make sure your baby’s tongue is in the right position, place your index finger in his mouth and let him suck on it. If you notice his tongue is towards the back as he sucks, gently use your finger to pull his tongue forward and then try latching him on.
Hand Pump Before Nursing
As mentioned above, milk from a bottle flows faster than milk flow from you, so to prevent any frustration at the breast, try hand pumping a little milk before nursing. By hand pumping before nursing, you’re “letting down” the faster flow of milk, which mimics feeding from a bottle more closely.
With a little time, patience, and these tips your baby will have no problem switching between breast and bottle. And, remember, if you need more support, reach out to your local La Leche League or la