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Introducing the Bottle

A Nursing Mom's Guide to Supplementing

So you're nursing but you want to be able to switch off between breast and bottle? The millions of mothers who successfully "do the combo" will tell you it's the right choice for them. First, it gives dad a chance to feed the baby and build that oh-so-important bond. It also allows mom the freedom to take a little time to herself. These six tips will help you become a successful switcheroo artist:

  • Of course, you can pump right after or between your nursing sessions and refrigerate or freeze your breast milk. But many moms find that supplementing with formula is the better choice for them, so if that's your wish, banish the guilt. Federal dietary guidelines ensure that all formulas contain the same ingredients, so you can save hundreds of dollars a year by buying a store brand.
  • Ideally, you would breastfeed exclusively for two weeks before introducing the first bottle. In the real world, many women are so tired after a week of nursing every few hours that they try the bottle sooner. It's true some babies balk at the first experience with a synthetic nipple, but most are able to quickly adapt and switch back and forth between mom and the bottle like champs.
  • If you're able to offer breast milk in the first bottle, it may make your baby more inclined to take it since the taste will be familiar to her. However, if you don't want to pump and wish to supplement with formula only, don't worry. Again, especially when it comes to food, most babies learn fast.
  • Here's the most important key to getting your baby to accept that first bottle: You, mom, should not give it to your baby. In fact, you should go hang out in another room! Your amazing newborn can smell the milk in your breasts even when you're standing a few feet away, and it will distract her. Have Dad or Grandma offer the first bottle.
  • If you're worried that dropping a nursing session can lead to a plugged duct or inadequate supply, follow these guidelines: Let's say you were nursing every three hours for a total of eight times a day, but now your husband is giving the baby the 3:00 a.m. bottle. Your breasts may be so full at first that you, too, have to get up and pump to relieve the pressure (just be sure to pump only a little bit—otherwise your milk production may increase instead of decrease). Within a few days, your breasts will adjust to the new schedule, and you'll be sleeping right through that middle-of-the night feeding! Try to wait a week before dropping another nursing session. If you can't wait that long, most moms have little or no trouble waiting just four to five days. Don't drop a session right next to the one you've already skipped or you'll be likelier to have a plugged duct or other problem. By slowly and strategically reducing your nursing sessions, your remarkable body will adjust and make just enough milk for the baby—no more and no less. Many a working mother has found that after going back to her job, she can still nurse her baby at night and first thing in the morning. Talk about having the best of both worlds!

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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