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Replacing a breastfeed with a bottle feed: How to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby

This is a common question I get asked, and often very early into the breastfeeding journey. Ideally waiting six weeks for breastfeeding to get established is a good idea. generally introducing a bottle before 12 weeks may be best as this is when sucking becomes more learned than instinctual.

Choosing the right bottle and teat; 

I suggest looking for a wide-neck teat with a seamless latch (no gaps between the baby’s mouth and the teat). Avoid short and asymmetrical teat shapes 

The technique is crucial. Paced bottle feeding is a non-negotiable here, especially for younger babies. With paced bottle feeding you will reduce; digestive discomfort, overfeeding, drinking too fast and the likelihood of bottle/flow preference. 

Here is what I recommend: 

  1. Ideally, the switch may work best in the evening. 
  2. Pump 1-2 hours post-feed (1-1.5 hours to allow the breasts to refill). 
  3. Go to bed or commence your “downtime”. 
  4. Your partner/family member stays up and feeds the baby the bottle of breastmilk when the baby wakes and then supports the baby to sleep. 
  5. Mother wakes for the next breastfeed.

The other common question I get is how much milk do I offer my baby?

Each baby will be different depending on their age, size, weight and how many feeds they typically have every 24 hours; 

The volume of feed could be approximately 90-150 ml for under 6 months and after 6 months, a baby may drink 150–230 ml at one feed.

Take your time with introducing a bottle and finding your rhythm with expressing the milk. Allow your baby and body some time to adjust. If you know your baby will need to have some bottle feeds while you are away or at an appointment etc then I would suggest trying this from at least two weeks prior to when the bottle will be required.

Joelleen Winduss Paye

IBCLC Lactation Consultant, Registered Endorsed Midwife, Naturopath & Educator est.2021



This knowledge is general in nature and from Joelleen’s experience as an expert IBCLC Lactation Consultant. This information does not constitute as advice, nor does it replace the advice given by an expert health professional in the confines of a consultation. This content is purely educational to support parents seeking clarity around their newborn and also helps the reader to decide if Joelleen is the right IBCLC Lactation Consultant for them.