Your Baby

The Scoop On Paced Bottle Feeding (And Why You Should Try It)

Jenny Wilcockson

Have you ever had someone give you their advice on feeding?

That was a trick question because of course, all parents have received some well-intentioned advice on THAT subject!

Paced feeding” is a way of bottle feeding your baby that feels like breast feeding.  It is ideal for mothers who breast feed but sometimes may need to switch to using a bottle of expressed milk.

But its also a great technique for any parent using a bottle, whether it’s for formula or breast milk.

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Read on to find out why…

So What Is It?

The clue is in the name – paced feeding goes at a slow and steady rate, by allowing your baby to control how fast they drink as they do during breastfeeding.

Giving baby control of how fast the milk flows is essential for both physical and psychological reasons.

The other element of paced bottle feeding is about the amount that baby eats during each feeding session.

Using this technique is an excellent way to make sure they eat the right amount.  Over or underfeeding has caused many a sleepless night for us parents so I’m sure that’s something you’d like to rule out!

How Does It Work?

woman feeding her baby with bottle

Work, Baby, Work! – Instead of laying your loved one flat and giving them the bottle by tipping it into their mouth, you sit them up on your lap, and you hold the bottle horizontally.

Using a bottle with a “slow flow” type nipple will also help tremendously.

With your cherub in an upright position, gravity is not forcing the milk into their mouth. Instead, they have to suck and work at the nipple to get it out.

The feed will take longer but will be a much more pleasant experience all around – your baby is controlling the flow as opposed to being force fed!

Time Out – There should be regular intervals where you stop and remove the nipple. Babies do this by themselves during breastfeeding, so why wouldn’t we allow them the same break during a bottle feed?

Gently twisting the nipple in the mouth will break the seal. When they get really good, they will learn to take these breaks on their own.

The added advantage to this is that you can burp them and remove any built-up air.  We don’t want to deal with that being trapped later on!

I’m Full! – The final and crucial component of this type of feeding is to stop once your bundle of joy has had enough.

When the baby is breaking off, pushing the nipple away, gasping or coughing, you know its time to stop.

A baby will not “over-eat” if you recognize the signs of them being full already.  With paced feeding, they are driving the bus, so there is no risk of continuing to pour milk into their mouths when they don’t need it.

Sometimes parents feed their little ones so fast with the regular bottle feeds, that the baby is actually full but the brain hasn’t yet received the message for them to start pushing away.

Why Should I Use This Technique?

Paced feeding has benefits for both breast fed and formula fed babies. If you’re using a bottle at all during feeds, which most parents are at some point, then read on to discover the reasons why it might be your new best friend.

  • Nipple Confusion – one of the main worries on a breast feeding momma’s mind – if and when I need to use a bottle, is my baby going to get confused between nipples? Using the above techniques to make the feed as similar as possible will reduce the likelihood of confusion or preference for one or the other.
  • Let-Down Confusion – often a bottle feed is faster in rate than breast feeding. Once your genius realizes they can get the milk faster from a bottle they might start to prefer it over the breast. Keeping the pace slow and steady will help avoid this problem.
  • Gas – the horizontal bottle and slower rate of flow will reduce air intake during the feed and hopefully keep the gas pains at bay (or less, let’s be realistic here).
  • Fullness – this technique helps your baby to recognize when they are full. Studies have begun to show that this is crucially linked to eating habits in later life.  You want your child to have a healthy relationship with food.

Additional Tips for Breast Feeding:

Here’s a few quick tips on how to maximize the similarities between your breast feeds and your bottle feeds.  You can thank me later:

  • Feed with the bottle whenever baby is hungry, like you would offer the breast whenever they’re hungry.
  • Look for the same hunger cues – turning towards anything near their cheek, sucking and smacking the lips, etc.
  • Stroke or tickle the lips with the nipple before putting it in their mouth, like you would when you encourage them to find your nipple to latch.
  • Encourage baby to latch onto the bottle nipple in the same way as they do on the breast – closing the whole mouth around the nipple and taking it deep into the mouth.
  • Do some research and find both a bottle shape and nipple that matches your natural let down. Try and keep the rate of flow as similar as possible.
  • You can even simulate let down by allowing only a few drops of milk from the bottle to start and then giving the opportunity to fully feed around the same time as the let down would come during breast feeding.

Additional Tips for Formula Feeding:

With a formula fed baby you are not necessarily trying to imitate breast feeding, but you still want to use the method to provide the above listed benefits:

  • Feed on a schedule that the baby sets – when they are hungry. Don’t set the alarm clock and feed at set intervals.
  • Choose a nice relaxed area to sit peacefully and bond with your baby during the feed.
  • Be prepared to be feeding for longer periods of time – keep your own comfort in mind!
  • Use the mini-breaks to learn about your baby – find the best ways to elicit that burp…

Need to save money on baby?

Get our free cheat sheet and learn over 50+ smart ways to save money as new parents. You'll be glad you did!

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