Should Partners give a Bottle to Bond with Baby?
We know that breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with a newborn. On first thought, it may make sense that partners also should feed their baby to enjoy this special bond. But, giving a bottle in the first few weeks can interfere with breastfeeding.
Here are 3 reasons why we would caution against it.
Babies can get ‘hooked’.
Despite the clever marketing slogans on the packages, there is no bottle that resembles breastfeeding. (We have never seen a mother’s nipple that looks anything like a bottle nipple!) Milk begins to flow from a bottle immediately and continues to flow much faster than milk from a breast. Babies can get ‘hooked’; when put to the breast, they may search for something much firmer and longer than mom’s nipple with an immediate fast flow of milk. For some babies, this will happen after just one bottle, for others, after a few bottles. This has also been referred to as ‘nipple confusion’ (read more about it here).
It can affect mom’s milk supply.
In the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding, mom’s milk supply is becoming regulated. Removing milk from the breasts signals her body to produce more milk. The more often milk is removed the more milk is made.
When a bottle-feed replaces breastfeeding, mom’s body misses the signal to continue making milk. This can affect long-term milk supply. If at all possible, we recommend waiting at least 6 weeks before introducing a bottle.
It can alter baby’s protection from illness.
Breast milk contains healthy bacteria and infection-fighters that coat baby’s gut and jump-start baby’s immune system. This provides protection against common infections like Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, E.coli, Rotavirus, and more.
Sometimes formula will be necessary for medical reasons. If, however, it is being given as a personal choice, families need to know it will affect the baby’s protective gut flora. Altering the gut flora affects baby’s protection from illness.
Feeding a baby is only one way to bond. There are many other ways to bond that will not impact breastfeeding.
- Babies love being held skin to skin.
- Burping a “milk drunk” baby against a bare chest is a wonderful way to bond.
- Baby bath. Babies were in a liquid environment for 9 months and many love to be in a tub of warm water. An alternative is to shower with the baby snuggled to the chest.
- Simply being there for baby, holding, talking or reading a book.
These are just a few of the ways partners can bond with their newborn while continuing to support breastfeeding. Do you have others you would add to the list?
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References and More Information:
- Bonyata, Kelly, BS, IBCLC. “How Does Milk Production Work?” KellyMom.com. 03 Apr. 2016. Web.
- “Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants: Recommendations from Birth to Six Months.” hc-sc.gc.ca. Health Canada, 18 Aug. 2015. Web.
- “Why Breastfeed?” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web.
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.
- Download their FREE ebook: 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.
- Download their FREE video course Getting Ready to Breastfeed.