Paced Bottle Feeding – Benefits and Safety Guidelines

Paced Bottle Feeding - Benefits and Safety Guidelines

Breastfeeding provides a host of benefits for your baby; however, the probable challenges cannot be overruled. Sometimes due to work constraints, health complications or other reasons, you may have to start bottle feeding for your baby. The most common problem that mothers may face by introducing occasional bottle feedings is the risk of ‘nipple-confusion’. Therefore, mothers who wish to practise both breast and bottle feeding the way forward might be ‘paced bottle-feeding’.

What is Paced Bottle Feeding

As the name suggests, paced bottle feeding is a way of feeding your baby from the bottle by controlling the pace of the milk that your baby is getting. The bottle is placed horizontally contrary to usual vertical tipping position. This position allows your baby to take as much as may be required, in a slow and gradual pace. This method is greatly dependent upon how the feeding bottle is held, and it may take some time and practise for you and your baby to get the hang of this feeding process.

How does Pace Feeding Differ from Normal Bottle Feeding

Paced bottle feeding is different from normal bottle feeding because the milk supply is controlled during paced bottle feeding and the baby gets only as much milk as he requires, contrary to normal bottle feeding where the baby gets free flow milk supply, and the pace is controlled by gravity. Paced bottle feeding is more like normal breastfeeding, which means that the baby is more in control of how much milk he is taking.

What is Required for Paced Bottle Feeding

Once you make up your mind for trying paced bottle feeding for your baby, you may require the following:

  • Milk Source: You may use pumped breast milk or formula milk.
  • Feeding Bottle: It is recommended that you use a straight bottle and not a curved one or a one which may have a tilted neck.
  • Feeding Nipple: Take a wide-based and slow flow nipple, which is more similar to a mother’s nipple.

Factors That Contribute to Overfeeding

Here are some factors that may contribute to overfeeding in bottle-fed babies:

1. Lack of Control

Babies who are fed from the bottle do not have control over their milk intake as the pace is not controlled by them. This may lead to crankiness or fussiness post-feeding.

2. Inability to Regulate Their Intake

Being fed from a bottle may hamper with a baby’s ability to regulate his milk intake. This may lead to overweight and obese babies too.

However, both of these aspects are taken care of during paced bottle feeding. This is because the pace and amount of milk, both can be controlled by the baby. Also, paced feeding is closer to breastfeeding, which means easy adaptation by the baby.

How to Feed Baby Using Pace Bottle Feeding Method?

Here’s how you may adopt pace bottle feeding method:

1. Time to Feed Baby

You need to observe when your baby is hungry and needs to be fed. Usually a baby may require to be fed every 2 to 3 hours; however, it is better to take cues from your baby before you begin something new. Your baby may appear fussy, smack his lips, suck his fists or your baby may open his mouth towards anything that comes in close contact (rooting).

2. Normal Intake at Each Bottle Feeding

As you begin feeding your baby, the milk intake may not be that substantial, for example on the first day it may just be 5 to 7 ml, but it may become 45 to 60 ml by the end of the first week. This is because your baby is getting the hang of the new feeding technique. Towards the end of the first month, you may expect your baby to take 80 to 150 ml, and this may keep increasing, and your baby may consume 6 to 8 oz of milk at every feed at four to six months of age or till you start giving solid foods to your baby.

Mother practising paced bottle-feeding

3. Steps for Pace Feeding Baby

Here are some easy steps for pace feeding your baby:

  • Positioning

You may hold your baby in an upright position with ample neck and head support. It is also important for the mother to sit comfortably so that she is able to support the baby’s position properly.

  • Giving the Bottle

Take the nipple and gently stroke on your baby’s lips. This may help your baby to open his mouth. The ideal position of holding the nipple would be at the top of his tongue, as this may minimize the air intake.

  • Holding the Bottle

Hold the bottle horizontally that is parallel to the ground. Do not tip the bottle vertically. Let your baby take milk as per his requirement. Do not worry about the nipple as it is designed in a manner that your baby may not gag.

  • Pausing and Switching Sides

Babies tend to take a break during the feeding sessions, and this is very normal. If your baby stops, let him relax a bit and offer the bottle again, if he is hungry he may take the bottle again. Also, change sides when the baby pauses, something that is also done during breastfeeding to help baby feed better and also to avoid side preferences.

  • Stopping

Once you feel that your baby has had enough, you may gently stop the feeding session. The cues such as slower sucking, more relaxed hands, wandering eyes and other such symptoms may tell you that he has had enough. You may try and put the bottle back till your baby refuses. Do not force-feed your baby as your baby knows how much he needs. Also, if he falls asleep during the feeding-session, do not wake him up and feed him because he may have had enough (this may not be applicable in case of newborn babies).

An average feeding session may take 15 to 20 minutes, and your baby may take approximately three ounces of milk per feeding session. However, feeding requirements, the amount of milk consumed, the time required, will vary from baby to baby.

What to do After Pace Feeding

After you are done with the feeding session, it is very important that you burp your baby. You may burp your baby in between the feeds. Also, that is when your baby pauses, or you shift sides. This may help your baby get rid of any air that he may have swallowed during the feeding session.

Benefits of Paced Bottle Feeding Technique

Paced bottle feeding has many benefits for your baby; here are some of these benefits:

  • It Mimics the Feeling of Breastfeeding

This feeding technique mimics the breastfeeding, which not only makes your baby adopt it easily but it also does not take away your baby’s interest from breastfeeding (in case you want to continue breastfeeding too).

  • It Helps the Baby to the Desired Amount of Milk

Normal bottle feeding may not give your baby control over how much milk he requires and thus may lead to overfeeding. Whereas the paced feeding makes the baby take control of how much milk he requires, thus it avoids the risk of overfeeding.

  • It Avoids the Risk of Caries

Paced bottle feeding requires the mother to hold the bottle throughout the feeding session contrary to normal bottle feeding where the bottle may be held by the baby. If the baby sleeps with the bottle, the milk may accumulate in his mouth, and it may increase the risk of caries in babies. However, this may not happen in paced bottle feeding.

  • It Reduces the Risk of Gas

Amongst the other drawbacks of normal bottle feeding, gas may be of prime concerns to many mothers. However, this may not be the case in paced bottle feeding because the feeding position does not allow swallowing of air or allows minimal swallowing of air during the feeding sessions and thus lesser gas troubles for your baby.

  • It Reduces the Risk of Nipple Confusion

Nipple confusion may occur in babies when they are bottle-fed, and this may make them neglect or avoid the breastfeeding altogether. However, in paced bottle feeding, the nipple that is used is closest to the mother’s nipple, and the feeding technique also resembles breastfeeding which may reduce the chances of nipple-confusion.

Safety Guideline While Pace Feeding Baby

Here are some measures to take while pace feeding your baby:

  • Do Not Force Feed

If your baby does not wish to take more milk, do not force feed. It is okay if he does not finish the contents of the bottle.

  • You May Breast Feed Too

In case you plan to breastfeed along with paced feeding, you may happily do so as there is no option better than breastfeeding your baby.

  • Give Regular Feeds

Make a feeding schedule for your baby and adhere to that schedule.

  • Regular Practise Will Help Your Baby Adapt

Initially you and your baby, both may struggle to get the hang of this feeding technique, but with practice and time you both will get it right.

  • Your Baby is Not Swallowing More Air

Parents may worry that their baby may be swallowing more air, but that is not so, rather he may be swallowing lesser air compared to normal bottle feeding. It is advised to burp your baby in between the feeds and also after you finish feeding your baby.

Can Pace Feeding Method Cause Gas in Baby

You may wonder that paced bottle feeding for the breastfed baby may cause more gas. However, that may not be the case because it is not the gas but immature digestive tract and nervous system that may cause gas in babies. However, if you think your baby is swallowing too much gas during the paced feeding sessions, talk to your doctor about the same.

Paced bottle feeding has many benefits, and you may avail them too. In case, you plan to do so, talk to your doctor and know how you may effectively adopt this feeding technique.

Also Read: Cup Feeding Your Baby