MS, RD, LDN, CSSD, CBS
Rachel holds a Master’s in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University and is also a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She works as a nutrition and wellness coach with focuses on infant and maternal nutrition, and mindful eating.
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Paced bottle feeding is a bottle feeding method that helps baby control the speed with which they eat.1, 2 This often means a slower pace that lets your little one take breaks when needed.1 Paced bottle feeding helps prevent overfeeding and allows your baby to be in tune with their strong internal hunger and fullness cues.2
Read on to learn all about paced bottle feeding.
Paced bottle feeding is based on the concept of responsive feeding, which is following your baby’s hunger and fullness cues.4 Letting your baby lead the way with how much they eat has been shown to help build healthy eating habits as well as help reduce the risk of feeding problems in the future.3, 4
Read more: Understanding your Baby’s Hunger and Fullness Cues: Responsive Feeding
Paced bottle feeding allows for baby (not caregiver) to control how much milk they take in. It is recommended for all babies who feed from a bottle – whether exclusively or in combination with feeding at the breast.1
Since it closely replicates the pacing of breastfeeding, paced bottle feeding may be particularly helpful for breastfed babies who are having difficulty latching or who are away from mom temporarily.2
Using paced bottle feeding in these instances is thought to help avoid nipple confusion.2
Paced bottle feeding is particularly effective for younger infants.2
Read more: Top Latching Tips
Read more: Sore Nipples
Read more: Should I Feed My Baby on Demand or on a Schedule?
A newborn ,or slow-flow, nipple allows baby to put forth effort into the feeding, helping to slow it down.2 This also gives baby time to help figure out when they are full.
Read more: Choosing the Right Bottles and Nipples
If your little one can down a bottle in 5 to 10 minutes, the flow of milk is likely too fast and your baby may not be able to listen to their fullness cues.2 If the feeding takes longer than 30 minutes, the flow may be too slow.2
(Note: as baby learns to use paced bottle feeding, you may get a few feedings that are this long, but they should get more efficient at feedings after that).
Typically, a baby at the breast will take about 15 to 20 minutes total per feeding, this is about how long a bottle-fed baby should feed as well.2
Remember that paced feeding can take some practice for both you, your baby, and anyone else who may be feeding your little one.
Helping your baby slow down their feeds allows them to regulate their intake. This means your little one may be telling you they want less (or more!) than what you are providing. Make sure everyone who is feeding your baby knows to listen to baby’s feeding and understanding it’s okay to stop before the bottle is empty.4
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Read more about the experts that help write our content!
For more on this topic, check out the following articles:
What Do I Need to Know About Supplementing with Formula, Breastfeeding, and Pumping?
Breast to Bottle: How To Transition
How Much Formula Does Your Baby Need?
Feeding Tips for Healthy Weight Gain in Babies and Toddlers
Supporting Adequate Milk Supply
1. MN Department of Health, Women Infants and Children. Paced Bottle Feeding: Infant Feeding Series. Accessed 27 September 2021. https://www.health.state.mn.us/docs/people/wic/localagency/wedupdate/moyr/2017/topic/1115feeding.pdf
2. Kassing Dee. Bottle-Feeding as a Tool to Reinforce Breastfeeding. Journal of Human Lactation. 2002; Feb;18(1):56-60. doi: 10.1177/089033440201800110. https://www.bfar.org/bottlefeeding.pdf
3. Harbron, J., Booley, S., Najaar, B., & Day, C. E. (2013). Responsive feeding: establishing healthy eating behaviour early on in life. South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 26(3), S141–S149. https://www.ajol.info/index.php/sajcn/article/viewFile/97829/87130
4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Is Your Baby Hungry or Full: Responsive Feeding Explained. Accessed 27 September 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/feeding-nutrition/Pages/Is-Your-Baby-Hungry-or-Full-Responsive-Feeding-Explained.aspx
5. American Academy of Family Physicians. Breastfeeding, Family Physicians Supporting (Position Paper). Accessed 28 September 2021. https://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/breastfeeding-position-paper.html
6. Penny F, Judge M, Brownell E, McGrath JM. What Is the Evidence for Use of a Supplemental Feeding Tube Device as an Alternative Supplemental Feeding Method for Breastfed Infants? Adv Neonatal Care. 2018 Feb;18(1):31-37. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29373347/
7. Law-Morstatt L, Judd DM, Snyder P, Baier RJ, Dhanireddy R. Pacing as a treatment technique for transitional sucking patterns. J Perinatol. 2003 Sep;23(6):483-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.jp.7210976. PMID: 13679936. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/13679936/
8. Wilson-Clay, B., & Hoover, K. (2017). The breastfeeding atlas (6th ed.). LactNews Press. https://uslca.org/uslca-marketplace/breastfeeding-atlas/
9. Mohrbacher, N. (2010). Breastfeeding answers made simple: A guide for helping mothers. Hale Publishing. https://books.google.com/books/about/Breastfeeding_Answers_Made_Simple.html?id=RaqOMAEACAAJ