What is paced bottle feeding?
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way of feeding our babies, but for some families bottle feeding is needed either in addition to breastfeeding or in place of.
Paced bottle feeding is a way of feeding our babies that mimics breastfeeding and takes advantage of baby's natural feeding reflexes. It is a great tool for those parents who need to be able to bottle-feed for whatever reason. It can be used for babies taking EBM or for babies receiving formula. It allows us to used cued-care and be flexible with feeding our babies.
By using cued-care, that is, responding to our babies' communications, we can offer a feed whenever they seem hungry and stop feeding when they signal they are full. This way we can be quite flexible with their feeds, as long as we are following the overall recommendations for intake over a 24hr period (for formula fed babies).
When setting up for paced bottle feeding, a narrow neck teat works best. Have baby in an upright position, with their bottom and neck well supported and their head slightly back so that their chin is not pushed down towards their chest. This position allows baby to be relaxed, well supported and optimise their feeding. We can then switch on baby's feeding reflexes - brush the teat along their lip or chin and they will open their mouth and look the for the teat. Place the teat gently in their mouth with the bottle horizontal so the milk fills the narrow part of the teat, allow baby to draw the teat right back into their mouth. They will begin to suck and swallow and relax into the feed. They may take little pauses, at this time you can gently drop down the bottle and then bring it up again once they start to suck again. You can follow your baby's cues as to when they may need a little break, and then restart again when they are ready. Remember to swap between both sides, the same as you would with a breastfeed - this way they can get used to both sides.
You might find it easier when first starting with paced bottle feeding to make up smaller amounts of milk so that you don't have to worry about wastage, as babies may not finish the whole bottle each time.
There is a lovely video of paced-bottle feeding here (thanks to possumsonline): https://possumsonline.com/video/about-paced-bottle-feeding-renee-keogh