Breastfeeding is hard work, so it is totally understandable if you are a breastfeeding mommy who just wants to take a break, enjoy some me-time (super important to your well-being!), and decides to have your precious one takes a bottle. But sometimes difficulties such as nipple confusion may occur if a baby is both breast and bottle-feeding. But fret not, mommies, understanding why it happens and strategising the transition between breast and bottle feeding can help lessen or prevent this for your little babe.

What is nipple confusion?

Nipple confusion (or nipple preference), sometimes occurs when breastfed babies are given artificial nipples such as bottle nipples or pacifiers at a very early age. They are facing a hard time getting back on the breast as they have gotten used to sucking from bottles/pacifiers. The shape of a pacifier or bottle nipple is different from a breast. The flow of milk from a bottle nipple is also not the same.

Breastfed babies control the flow of milk from mommy by producing suction, using their pauses to swallow and breathe. When feeding using an average baby bottle, babies don’t have to work as hard as gravity and the nipple opening cause the milk flow to be more continuous for them. Nipple confusion happens when the baby shifts back to the breast and doesn’t understand why the milk flow is different than it did with the bottle.

Ways to overcome nipple confusion

  • Since there is no way to predict if your baby will experience nipple confusion, it is recommended to wait introducing a bottle or a pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established, normally when your baby is about 3 to 4 weeks old.
  • Once you return to work, your baby may get fed more from bottles which also may cause your breast milk supply to decrease. You can overcome this issue by trying to boost your breast milk supply and focus more on breastfeeding time.
  • Nipple confusion also occurs to babies who refuse to take bottles and only want to breastfeed. Try giving bottles in a relaxed, calm manner and stop when your baby starts to fuss or feel stressed. Don’t give up, but to try again another time! Or you can also try to switch it up by getting the daddy or a caregiver to feed the bottle to your baby. Some babies just won’t accept anything but breast from their mommies, but will accept a bottle from someone else.
  • You can also look into baby bottles with a system that mimics babies’ natural breastfeeding motions and behaviour to ease the transition from bottle to breast.

If the matter persists, it is best that you reach out to a Lactation Consultant who can support and guide you through this struggle. It will take some time and effort, but it will be worth it especially when your breastfeeding journey is finally on back on track!

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all you breastfeeding mommies a Happy International Breastfeeding Week! Remember to take a break and keep a happy mind. Happy mommy = happy baby! ☀

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