Paced Bottle Feeding

What to Know

  • What it is
  • What’s it for
  • How to do it
  • Other tips

Paced bottle feeding is a method of feeding a baby with breastfeeding difficulties or is temporarily away from mom. It helps “pace” the feed similarly to a breastfeed, where baby controls the flow, and not the caregiver.

It can be very useful in instances of extended latching difficulties, instances when mom and baby are separated temporarily but want the breastfeeding relationship to be maintained, and any other time that a parent and/or lactation consultant or healthcare provider deems it useful.

It’s most useful for babies under 6 months old and can be particularly effective for younger infants.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is just one method that can help feed baby during latching difficulties or mom’s absence. Some lactation providers are fond of a supplemental nursing system, some help moms practice finger feeding, and there are still even more methods than that!

Some of the above methods need to be used and taught by a trained lactation provider, while paced bottle feeding can easily be described.

Steps to paced bottle feeding

  1. Always feed baby on demand, and never on a schedule.
  2. Take the bottle and place it at the tip of baby’s lips or stroke the baby’s lips with the bottle. Keep the bottle as horizontal as possible to allow milk to be drawn out but not “drip” into baby’s mouth. The bottle will have to be tipped more and more vertically as the milk is being drunk.
  3. Allow baby to suck the bottle into her mouth. Some experts recommend a deep latch on a wide-nipple bottle (sometimes called “wide neck”) that resembles a breastfeeding latch, while others says it doesn’t make a difference.
  4. Frequently pause and tip the nipple down after every few suck/swallow cycles in order to help baby attain a natural rhythm as feeding at the breast is suck/swallows followed by pausing to breathe and swallow.

What to Do

Discuss the various methods of feeding baby with your healthcare provider.  Every method doesn’t necessarily work for every mom, and it’s important to see which one works for you – even if that means some experimenting!

If your goal is to get baby to latch, don’t lose sight of it! For moms using this as an intermediate step to get baby to latch, then keep trying to latch and working on it with your lactation consultant.

Educate other family members and care providers about the technique.

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