When can I supplement with a bottle if I breastfeed?

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When can I supplement with a bottle if I breastfeed?

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New parents are often concerned about being able to offer their baby bottle of expressed milk, so the mom can have a break and/or ways to soothe a baby with the use of a pacifier. There is so much conflicting information out there about when this should occur. In general, I feel really comfortable offering a baby a bottle after two to three weeks. I think it's perfectly fine to give it at least twice a week, try not to do it more than once a day. If you wait more than three weeks, sometimes the concern is that the baby won't take the bottle at all. If you have a mother that is going back to the workplace, that can be quite a problem. I think around three weeks is probably a target date to start. The pacifier issue is a lot harder to answer. I, personally, don't have that much of an issue with pacifiers. I know a lot of my colleagues would disagree with me, that it does cause what's called "nipple confusion" or "nipple preference" in babies. I think bottles are much more likely to cause nipple preference because of the flow, where babies are doing nutritive sucking; whereas, pacifiers are non-nutritive. It's really to calm and soothe the baby. I look at each case individually. If I have a baby who is doing a beautiful job at the breast, the baby has a high sucking need, the mother's nipples are getting sore; I offer the mother a pacifier. I think it will actually make the breastfeeding more long term than not using a pacifier.

View Wendy Haldeman, RN, MN, IBCLC's video on When can I supplement with a bottle if I breastfeed?...

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Wendy Haldeman, RN, MN, IBCLC

Lactation Specialist

Wendy Haldeman, MN, RN, IBCLC is a co-founder of the Pump Station and Nurtury. She received both her nursing and lactation education at UCLA, is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), and a certified Happiest Baby on the Block instructor. She lectures frequently on human lactation at medical and nursing schools and has been identified by publications, such as Fit Pregnancy, as an expert in her field. Wendy facilitates the New Mother Support groups, and teaches the prenatal Breastfeeding and Baby Care Classes at The Pump Station. She and her husband Tim are proud of their two grown daughters and their 15 month old granddaughter.

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