Paced Bottle Feeding – Benefits and Safety Guidelines

5 min read

Written by Bindu Raichura

Bindu Raichura

Paced Bottle Feeding

Feeding a baby is not an easy task for many. While breastfeeding comes naturally to many mothers, there are a number of them who struggle with breastfeeding and may opt for bottle feeding from time to time. Have you heard about paced bottle feeding?

This is where the problem starts! When it is just the breast or just the bottle, babies adapt quite easily. When it is both, it can cause confusion, which is when paced bottle feeding is recommended.

In This Article

Paced Bottle Feeding

Paced bottle feeding is a technique to help babies adapt to bottle-feeding while they are still breastfeeding. A bottle tends to have a smoother and faster flow when compared to a breast. The baby need not suck much and the flow of milk will be uniform throughout the feed.

By adapting to the paced bottle feeding method, the pace at which the milk flows out into the baby’s mouth is controlled. This closely mimics the flow from a mother’s breast, thus reducing confusion for the baby.

Difference Between Paced Bottle Feeding and Regular Bottle Feeding

So what is the difference between a paced bottle feeding and a regular bottle feeding? Both use feeding bottles, but different feeding techniques:

Paced Bottle Feeding

  1. The parent/adult sets the pace for the feed.
  2. The bottle is held horizontal.
  3. The nipple is only half full with milk.
  4. A small holed nipple is used to reduce flow speed.

Regular Bottle Feeding

  1. Baby sucks at their own pace.
  2. The bottle is held vertical.
  3. The nipple is full of milk until the very end.
  4. Hole size is increased according to baby’s age for age suitable flow.

Paced Bottle Feeding Requirements

Feeding bottle with milk

This is what you require to follow this method of feeding for your baby:

  • Milk: You may use pumped breast milk or formula. Looking for tips to pump bread milk click here.
  • Bottle: A good quality bottle. Many brands have come up with bottles specially designed for newborn babies, which mimics the breast shape/ angle.
  • Nipple: A wide nipple with a small hole. The narrow nipples are much smaller than a breast and can fit completely into a baby’s mouth with ease, thus making pace feeding difficult.
  • Feeding Pillow or a Good Support for the Baby’s Back and Neck: The feeding position will be very different from breastfeeding as the breast will be positioned above the baby but the bottle will be placed almost at the same level as the baby’s mouth. Read here to know how good is investing in a good feeding pillow.

Overfeeding – Contributing Factors

Yes, overfeeding a child does happen and it happens more often than it is spoken about. No, a baby does not know their limit at all times and will not always stop when they are full. Initially, the mother will have to ensure she does not overfeed the baby.

Some factors that contribute to this are:

1. No Control Over Flow

The baby has no control over the milk flow when it is from a bottle. A little effort can cause the milk to flow easily, when compared to the effort babies need to put in, for breastfeeding. When milk over-flows into their mouths, many babies just gulp it down.

2. No Control Over Quantity

Nature is magical. A mother’s body knows how much milk to produce for the baby at any given time. If a baby has just breastfed and cries for more in a little while (for comfort feeding), the mother’s body understands this and produces milk accordingly.

In bottle feeding, this is not possible. If you offer a full bottle of milk every time your baby cries, there is a high risk of overfeeding.

How to Feed Using This Method?

mom feeding baby

Planning to start paced bottle feeding your baby? Here are is a comprehensive guide just for you:

1. Baby Position

Baby has to be in an upright position with enough support for back and neck.  Ensure you are seated comfortably too, as this might take a while.

2. Introduce Bottle

Gently trace your baby’s lips with the bottle’s nipple. They will open their mouth wide and latch on to it. Ensure the nipple is placed at the top of your baby’s tongue to reduce air intake.

3. Bottle Angle

Hold the bottle horizontal to the floor rather than a tilted angle, which is the usual bottle-feeding position. The horizontal angle will cause the milk to flow only halfway, thus reducing the pace.

4. Stop And Burp

If you notice the baby has stopped or slowed down sucking, you can take the bottle out and continue to burp the baby.

After Pace Feeding

Once you are done with pace feeding your baby, don’t forget to burp them. A lot of air might have been sucked in by the baby due to the half-empty nipple.

Benefits of Paced Bottle Feeding

The biggest benefit of this feeding method is – a baby can breastfeed and bottle feed simultaneously without any nipple/ flow confusion. The baby can continue to benefit from breast milk even when bottle-fed.

Precautions to be Taken

Some of the safety precautions to take while paced bottle feeding is:

  • Time the feedings to ensure you are not feeding the baby for too long or too frequently.
  • Measure the milk given to avoid overfeeding.
  • If your baby refuses the bottle do not force-feed.
  • In case their lips turn blue or they seem to be gagging/ unable to breathe, take the bottle out immediately.
  • If milk overflows from the mouth, check the flow.

Can Paced Bottle Feeding Cause Gas?

Yes, if the bottle is not positioned right and the baby swallows too much air, they can feel constipated or experience digestive difficulties.

When you opt to pace feed your baby, ensure you are both physically and mentally prepared for the journey. If they refuse the bottle or refuse to go back to the breast, do not lose heart. Keep trying and they will eventually get used to both. Just ensure you don’t overfeed or underfeed the baby.

Bindu Raichura,MA (English Literature), Delhi University Diploma in Journalism & Mass Communications, Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC), Mumbai

Bindu’s background in English literature paved the way for her writing career. Her vast experience in content across different genres has proved her strong point as a successful writer.Read more.

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