What is Paced Bottle Feeding?

| Pregnancy |

Exclusively breastfed.

Exclusively formula fed.

Exclusive pumper.

Combination of both breastmilk and formula.

The list can go on. However you feed your baby, we are here to support you.

Bottles are often an important part of your feeding journey with your baby. 

Whether you exclusively bottle feed, or you are using a bottle while you work on establishing breastfeeding, this blog is for you.

We want to share a bottle feeding method called Paced Feeding. We know it sounds kind of strange, who knew there was a bottle feeding method?!

Paced feeding allows your baby to be in control of the feeding pace. This can be beneficial for a few reasons:

Many mamas are worried their babies will develop a preference for the bottle over the breast. Paced feeding mimics breastfeeding, as the flow is slower and your baby can take breaks, just like they would at the breast.

LESS GAS! If you are struggling with a fussy baby and bottle feeding, paced feeding can be a game changer. It helps your baby determine when she is finished, compared to giving her the entire bottle, and potentially overfeeding, causing discomfort.

If your baby won’t take a bottle, paced feeding can help. Because it mimics the flow of the breast, it won’t feel as different as the breast, helping your baby accept the bottle.

Here is how you can practice paced feeding. You can do this with your newborn and older babies.

Keep your baby in an upright position. This helps him keep control of the flow of milk.

Wait for your baby to accept the nipple into his mouth. Don’t force the nipple into his mouth or you could create a feeding aversion. Let your baby lead – softly touch his lips with the nipple, and let that touch stimulate the rooting response. He will open his mouth wide, and then you can gently guide the nipple into his mouth.

Keep the bottle at a horizontal level. This keeps your baby drinking at a steady pace that is easy to control. If you tip the bottle up, he will drink more milk and faster than if he gets to control it himself.

Give your baby frequent breaks, every ½ ounce or so. This mimics breastfeeding, as babies often pause to swallow.

Switch the side you are holding your baby halfway through the feed. This prevents him from developing a side preference and is good for development as he will see a different view from each side.

Let your baby control when he is finished. Just because there are four ounces in the bottle does not mean he will drink all of them. Watch for signs of effective feeding–baby is alert and drinking actively. Once sucking slows, and he is starting to get drowsy, gently take the nipple out of his mouth by pulling it out in a circular motion. Then, touch the nipple to his lips again, waiting to see if he wants to accept it for more. If he doesn’t, burp him and attempt again. If he still doesn’t want it, then your baby is full.

Practicing paced feeding with your baby every time you offer the bottle will make bottle feeding easier and your baby more settled. Check out our video here which will show you in detail how to pace feed with your baby!

Written by Carrie Bruno

Carrie Bruno is a Registered Nurse, IBCLC Lactation Consultant, Sleep coach and founder of the North American company, The Mama Coach. The Mama Coach is a group of Registered Nurses committed to making motherhood easier by providing prenatal and postnatal education and support.