Breastmilk. Every Ounce Counts.

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Bottle Time

If you plan to be away from your baby, you may want to try having your partner, friend, or family member give him a very small amount of breastmilk in a bottle when he is 3 to 4 weeks old. This will help your baby get used to a bottle if you plan to return to work or school.

In some cases, you may have to start using a bottle for breastmilk before your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old, but be careful. If you miss a feeding at your breast it can lower your milk supply. To keep up your supply, hand express or pump your milk at the same time you would have normally breastfed your baby. The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk you will make. You can store the milk you pump.

If your partner or family member wants to give your newborn a bottle in the early weeks of breastfeeding, remind them that there will be time later when the baby is ready. There are many other ways they can help you until then. Visit our Teamwork section for ideas on how others can help.

What if I go back to work before 4 weeks?

You might think about working with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to get some advice about how to do this successfully. Call your WIC office to connect you to someone. If you know you'll need to return to work before your baby is 4 weeks old, start pumping once or twice a day after breastfeeding your baby. Store that milk in the freezer. Start doing this after about the first week at home. This will make sure your baby still gets your breastmilk even when you are away. You may want to start having your baby practice with a bottle before returning to work, too.

Bottle advice

1

Hold the baby upright

Hold the baby upright when you feed him with a bottle. Support the base of his head so he can control the flow of milk. Stop feeding him when he needs to take a break or is full. To give him a break, tip the bottle down so milk leaves the nipple. Stop feeding when he releases the nipple or falls asleep while eating.

2

Avoid unsafe positions

Never prop a bottle with a pillow to feed your baby. This is not safe and can lead to choking.

3

Switch positions

Switch the baby from one arm to the other about halfway through the bottle. Look your baby in his eyes while you are feeding him.

4

Burp the baby often

Burp baby often since he is more likely to swallow air from a bottle nipple.

5

Follow the guidelines

Follow the guidelines that help you pump and store breastmilk, and for sterilizing bottles and nipples.

What about using formula?

Babies who drink only breastmilk get the best nutrition! You can continue to produce enough milk even after going back to work if you pump the same number of times a day that your baby would have breastfed. Nurse your baby frequently when you are at home, too. A WIC peer counselor, lactation consultant, your doctor, and other moms who've been successful at going back to work and continuing to breastfeed can help you figure out how to make it work for you. Even if you find that you need for your baby to take formula while you are at work, you can still breastfeed before and after work. Every time you breastfeed, your baby grows stronger and healthier.

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