Paced Bottle-Feeding

When it comes to bottle-feeding your baby, you may have heard of a technique called paced bottle-feeding. This method aims to mimic the way your newborn or infant would suck at your breast but it’s done with a bottle. Find out more about paced bottle-feeding, including how to introduce the method in a few simple steps, and learn about some of the potential benefits of using this feeding method.

What Is the Paced Bottle-Feeding Method?

This is a technique of bottle-feeding that gives your baby more control of the feeding pace. The method involves slowing down the flow of milk into the bottle’s nipple and into your baby’s mouth.

The method could be a good choice for bottle-fed babies who are on formula or for babies who are both bottle- and breastfed. Check with your baby's healthcare provider if you have any questions about paced bottle-feeding or about feeding in general.

Benefits of Paced Bottle-Feeding

The benefits of paced bottle-feeding may include the following:

  • Your baby eats more slowly, learning to pace himself, and takes more breaks

  • The risk of overfeeding can be reduced because your baby learns to control how much he eats and at what pace he eats

  • Discomfort associated with swallowing air while feeding may be reduced with a steady pace of eating, and thus help prevent gas.

How Do You Feed Your Baby With Paced Bottle-Feeding?

Here are four steps for introducing paced bottle-feeding to your baby:

  1. Use a small bottle (a four-ounce baby bottle will do) fitted with a slow-flow (designed for newborns) nipple. You can use either pumped breast milk or formula. Hold your baby in your lap in a semi-upright position, all the while supporting his head and neck.

  2. When your baby shows signs of hunger (putting his hands to his mouth; turning his head toward the bottle; puckering, licking, or smacking his lips; and/or clenching his hands), tickle his lips with the nipple of the bottle so he opens his mouth up wide. Insert the bottle’s nipple into his mouth, ensuring that he has a deep latch. Make sure to hold the bottle horizontally so that there is no flow of milk.

  3. Allow your baby to begin suckling on the nipple without any milk coming out, and then tip the bottle slightly so that the nipple fills halfway with milk. Let your baby take between 3 and 5 swallows, which could take between 20 and 30 seconds altogether. Tip the baby bottle back horizontally to give your baby a little break in eating.

  4. When you see him start to suck again, tip the bottle back up to let a little milk flow into the nipple. Keep going with this paced bottle-feeding method until your baby shows signs of fullness, such as no longer wanting to suck after a break, pushing away from the bottle’s nipple, closing her mouth, and/or relaxing her hands.

Does Paced Bottle-Feeding Cause Gas?

Any time a baby is fed from a bottle there is a chance he may swallow some air, which can lead to gas. Paced bottle-feeding may actually help decrease the chance of a baby becoming gassy, since it may help reduce the amount of air a baby takes in. Still, it’s always worth paying attention while you’re bottle-feeding your baby so that he doesn’t take in too much air.

The Bottom Line

Paced bottle-feeding offers potential benefits for your baby, as it may teach her to pace herself when it comes to feeding. This method may help reduce the risk of overfeeding, too.

Whether you’re bottle-feeding your little one with formula or breast milk, the paced bottle-feeding method could be something you'd like to consider.

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