Baby Boot Camp: Introducing the Bottle to Breastfed Babies

Sona Charaipotra

Navdeep and Kavi
Photo by Sona Charaipotra

As a new first-time mom -- yes, I'm typing this with one hand -- I'll be exploring the often stressful, always magical first six weeks of little one's life with the scoop on things like car seats, cradle cap, cuddle time, and other newborn issues in CafeMom's Baby Boot Camp.

The first six weeks of Kavya's life just flew by for me -- a blur of feedings, diapers, play-time and a severe lack of sleep. It was an exhausting but mostly blissful mother-daughter bonding experience that I'll remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

And I'm sure that it was a special time for my husband, too, but he did tell me on occasion that, sometimes, he felt left out.

Of course we both miss that cozy couple time, but it's more than that.

I'm breastfeeding the baby, which means hours on end of intense cuddle time. And I'm working from home (sadly, since she was about a week old, since there's no rest for the self-employed), which means I can be with her most of the time.

Navdeep doesn't have that luxury. So his hours with Kavya are already numbered. But there's also the frequency with which she eats. In the beginning -- and admittedly, even now sometimes -- it felt like an endless cycle. Because of the breastfeeding, I was the one handling meal time, which seemed like all the time. Navdeep really wanted to be more involved, but we were torn on when to introduce the bottle of breast milk, so he could feed her too.

Two weeks? Four weeks? Six weeks? Never? Learning how to breastfeed was difficult enough. And then there was all this talk about nipple confusion, rejecting the breast, rejecting the bottle. All the parenting resources said something different.  

And speaking of which -- at first I didn't realize there was an issue, not until Navdeep told me that he was feeling left out. Before Kavi, he wasn't particularly interested in babies -- in fact, he could barely be bothered to look at one, let alone hold one or change a diaper. But with Kavi, he was the first one to change her, cuddle her, rock her to sleep. He wanted to be involved.  He even read a baby book meant specifically for new dads, Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads -- and he highly recommends it.

In the end, we decided to give it a go when she was about three weeks old -- pretty young by most standards. And you know what? Maybe some babies don't, but Kavi handled it perfectly fine. Which meant more quality time with her father, since he could take on the occasional feeding. (That is, when I'm not too busy destroying my breast pump to actually pump.) Next week, when I'm able to go off to a writers' conference -- my first full day away from my baby -- the decision to add those occasional bottles will have been a major factor. But it will be a great, one-on-one bonding day for Kavi and her papa. The first of many.

When did you introduce a bottle to your breastfeeding baby? Did your SO take on some of the feedings?

Read More