Cupids Health

Dad’s Guide to Bottle-feeding Breastmilk in 2021

As our world has changed over the last two years, more parents are working from home and sharing the responsibility of feeding the baby.  My own son is expecting his first and his wife will be working outside the home while he runs his business from home.  

Since babies don’t come with an instruction manual, Dads and other caregivers can benefit from some advice on feeding while mom is away.

#1.  Introduce the Bottle at 6-8 Weeks

This time frame is optimal because it allows enough time for mom and baby to establish a good latch and breastfeeding rhythm.  Waiting longer than 6-8 weeks can sometimes make it more difficult for baby to want to transition from breast to bottle.  The goal is to use this window of opportunity so that baby goes back and forth from breast to bottle seamlessly.  

#2.  Choose the Bottle with Intention

The intention behind choosing a bottle is that the nipple had a wide mound so that baby opens wide simulating the same latch as they would on the breast.  The bottle nipple should be silicone and not rubber that has a smell and taste and should be a slow flow or newborn nipple.  Some recommended bottles and nipples are Spectra, Motif Luna, Hygeia and Comotomo.  

#3.  Schedule an Introductory Trial Run

It may be difficult for Dad or any caregiver to try to introduce a bottle with mom is nearby.  Plan a time that mom has a short outing and when it has only been 2 hours since the baby has fed.  Waiting until the three hour mark increases the infant’s agitation and willingness to try a new way of feeding.

#4.  Position Baby

Make sure the baby’s head is above their body.  Most images you see of bottle feeding have baby in a cradle hold with the bottle above them which can be effective.  When using a cradle hold, the crook of your elbow is lifted so you may want an extra pillow on the armrest so your arm doesn’t get fatigued in that position.  If the infant is refusing the bottle in this position, there are several other positions to try.  One is to simulate the position at the breast, hold baby tummy to tummy with you and hold the base of the bottle close to your chest.

#5.  Take it Slow

It is important to slow down the feedings as bottles drip automatically and can cause the infant to feed too quickly getting more air and taking in more breastmilk than mom is producing.  One way to slow the feeding is to stop and burp after each ounce.  

It is important not to offer baby more than the appropriate amount for weight gain or you may undermine moms confidence in her milk production.  So the next question is, how much does the baby need?  To calculate the infant’s need, take the baby’s weight and multiply by 2.5 which will give you the number of ounces per day. Divide this number by the number or feeding per day which is normally eight.  This will give you the number of ounces per bottle.  But who has time to do math with a new baby in the house so below is a handy chart for you to use.

Once the baby gets used to the bottle, it can be daunting if they finish quickly and still act as if they are hungry.  It is evident a baby over 6 days of age is getting enough by the wet diapers which should be 6-8 per day.  The number of dirty diaper can vary but generally 3-4 per day up to 3 months and then can slow down to one every three to five days. It is also important to know that an infant going through a growth spurt which is typically 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months will act hungry and mom may need to increase her pumping schedule for 5 days in a row to boost her supply to match the baby’s demand.

#6.  Know How to Handle Breastmilk

As anytime you feed an infant, you will want to wash your hands.  But there is much more to know about how to handle breastmilk when it comes to storage, thawing and feeding.  

Breastmilk is good at room temperature for 4 hours, but if the baby pauses a feeding it needs to be used within a 2 hour window.  It is good in the refrigerator for 4 days, but you should then use it and not freeze it as you have used up the life of the milk.  It is good in a freezer for 6-12 months but you should not store it in the door and you should never re-freeze thawed breastmilk.

When thawing breastmilk, it is best to do this in the refrigerator overnight, on the counter for three hours or in a container of warm, not boiling hot water.  You can also use a commercial bottle warmer provided it has a thermostat reading as breast milk is best served between 77 degrees and 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal digestion. If you are thawing breastmilk, use the oldest milk first.

Use fresh milk whenever available.  While it seem reasonable for mom to pump and stockpile her freezer, using frozen stock on the first workday of the week is good, but the rest of the week use Monday’s expressed milk to serve on Tuesday, etc.  The reasoning behind this is that freshly expressed breastmilk has living white blood cells in it that are no longer living when frozen. Don’t get me wrong, frozen milk is still far superior in nutrition and antibodies than artificial infant milk, but the fresh milk is optimal in those while blood cells providing greater active immunities for your baby.  In addition, breastmilk changes over the months so that as the baby grows and the needs of the baby grow, the milk expressed at that time is age appropriate in it’s benefits as shown on the infographic below.

#7 Encourage Mom

Expressing breastmilk for baby takes time and commitment.  Remind mom that she is leaving her baby a gift every time she leaves breastmilk for a feeding.  Breastmilk is liquid gold and liquid love for her baby and this provision can help mom in the transition from being home to being away from her precious infant. Another bit of encouragement and boost to milk supply is to pack her bag with a water bottle, nutritious snack or lactation cookie bar. And of course a nice note in her pump bag every now and then never hurts!

Best wishes for Bottle Feeding Breastmilk!


P.S.  Feel free to leave questions!

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