The Basics of Paced Bottle Feeding


Many parents have questions about bottle feeding their breastfed baby. Using a bottle, especially in the early days of your child’s life, can allow the responsibility of feeding your newborn to be shared by both parents. However, breastfeeding mothers sometimes are unsure how to go about successfully bottlefeeding their breastfed baby. One of the methods to quickly help your newborn transition between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding is called paced bottle feeding. Below you can read more information on this technique.

What is Paced Bottle Feeding?

The idea behind paced bottle feeding is to mimic the process of natural breastfeeding but with a bottle instead. It is a technique that puts your baby in control of when feeding sessions begin and end rather than a rigid schedule. This method of bottle feeding forces your child to work harder for their milk and, as a result, slows down their feeding patterns. In part, the added difficulty of retrieving milk from the bottle helps reinforce your infant’s preference for the breast. Therefore, it can allow you to bottle-feed your baby with confidence knowing they will feed more easily and readily from the breast.

Why is it Needed?

Since your child is the one in control of the feed, paced bottle feeding can help you avoid over or under feeding your baby. They will exhibit hunger cues or signs of being full that, when followed, will let you know whether they are getting enough milk, too much milk, or just the right amount. Additionally, because it is designed to mimic breastfeeding, this technique supports your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. For many new moms, the ability to allow their partner to take over evening feeds can make a dramatic difference in their sleep schedule and

How do you do it?

The method is fairly straightforward. First, keep an eye out for hunger cues and when you see them it is time to start the feed. When beginning a paced bottle feeding session, use the nipple on the bottle to elicit a rooting response where baby will draw the nipple into their mouth on their own. During the actual feeding, tilt the bottle only enough to keep milk in the nipple. While you don’t want your baby to swallow a lot of air, maintaining a more horizontal bottle reduces the flow and ensures your child is working for the milk. At regular intervals (20 to 30 seconds or when active sucking stops) tip the bottom of the bottle down or remove it from their mouth to stop flow and bring it back up when they begin sucking to simulate a let down. Repeat these steps until your baby is satiated. For more detailed information check out these blogs from Mama Natural and Motherlove.