Nipple Confusion in Newborns – Fiction and Facts

4 min read

nipple confusion in baby
Each and every moment caring for a newborn is most beautifully magical! Especially, breastfeeding is divine! In fact, the nursing mother symbol was used widely in Renaissance Paintings (the most beautiful revival of arts in 16th century) as the Virgin Mary.
Sometimes, the little angels find it confusing to latch on to the nipples. This can happen due to several reasons. However, the issue can be resolved as well. You can either accustom your baby with the nipples or give expressed milk by a feeding bottle.

What is nipple confusion?

Nipple confusion is said to happen when a baby finds it difficult to latch on breasts for breastfeeding when he has been previously introduced to a bottle or a dummy. Because of the difference in sucking from bottles and the breasts, some babies can particularly find it hard to latch on the breast. This primarily happens because the baby has to put less effort when sucking from the bottle (with gravity on his side) compared to sucking from the breast where he has to work harder. The little fellow does not want to make effort when he knows he can get his tummy full easily, and may not like the breast anymore. This is basically called nipple confusion.

Why this happens?
  • If the baby’s first few feeds have been from a bottle, then your baby has grown accustomed to it. Quite naturally, the sleepy learner is now having the cutest issues of looking for the same experience in your nipples! The bottles do not require much effort. The nipple there is always filled with milk and does not need much sucking. It is easy there!
  • Probably, the tiny wonder is thinking “Now, what is this different experience. I have to put in more efforts! That one was better mommy!” Scientifically, your baby has to put in the efforts of moving about 40 facial muscles for suckling from the mother’s breast
  • In addition, babies have to open their mouths wider feeding from breasts than from bottles. Forty! Now, is not that such a big deal! Don’t worry, for your baby will eventually learn to suckle. This is the first lesson of life and is genetically known by everyone! (Do you also know that every newborn naturally knows how to swim?)
  • In bottle feeding, the baby becomes accustomed to use a smart tongue push to control the flow of milk. This reflex causes the infant to push the mother’s nipple out of the mouth as well. In addition, your baby will also pause sucking sometimes because he is accustomed to a constant flow of milk from the bottle. None of these are matters of worry though! Instead, they create the most special occasions for bonding
  • It can also be something about being uncomfortable. Your baby should find the nipples in a relaxing posture. His tiny hands should be free for there can be a very cute need on supporting them on the breasts. Also, when you have sore nipples, your discomfort also transpires to the little one made of you. You can always keep a feeding bottle handy, just in case!

nipple confusion

Start by bottle detachment

You will need to detach the habit of bottle feeding from the baby. There are several ways to accomplish this. The best and the most obvious way to hold your baby close to your bare skin. Let her feel your comfortable presence. The teats are stretchable to some extent. So, you can gently put them in your baby’s mouth. Most importantly, you have to keep the feeding bottle away. Okay, you may keep it as an urgent resource when you need some rest (which is necessary), but keep the use as much minimum possible.

Comfort your baby

Comfort your baby, but do not become impatient and try to force the act, even slightly. It would come naturally. Hold your baby in a comfortable position with the tiny lips close to your personal fountain of elixir! Lead by signage. Open your mouth slightly so that the baby also learns to follow it. Talk to your baby. Don’t worry whether your child understands you! No words are needed to communicate between a mother and a newborn!

Stress on timing and routines

Your baby will have the urge to learn when he is hungry. Look for the baby cry cues of feeling hungry. Mommy, you need to attend to the tiny tummy! You may also take help from someone to use a sterilized eyedropper to drop a few drops of milk on the baby’s lips. Then drop a few drops on your nipples as well. The infant will follow the signs of maternal smell and taste to start suckling almost automatically.
nipple confusion in infants

Be patient and calm

The above strategies should work. However, in case they do not, you may want to use a feeding bottle. Even then, you can feed breast milk to the baby. All you need to do is use a breast pump and feed it by a sterilized feeding bottle. When buying a bottle, you should make sure that it does not show a heavy milk flow. Instead, it should be constant but slowly. Also, the bottle teat should be comfortable for the baby.
While expressing, extract as much milk as your baby usually feeds in twenty four hours. It is easy to calculate this. Just pump the breasts for the same duration that your baby suckles. This ensures your breasts are again full by the next day, without becoming uncomfortably filled up or anything. However, prioritize direct breast feeding. It is a magically innocent experience.
breastfeeding a baby

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