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Austin Baby Guru encourages parents use the following technique to help baby learn to set the pace for bottle feeding. For the breastfed baby, this type of feeding will cause the milk flow to be more like breastfeeding. This lowers the risk of bottle-feeding causing breastfeeding issues later. For both bottle fed and breastfed babies, this method seems to lower the risk of baby developing GERD or acid reflux issues.

A great video from the wonderful lactation consultants at Breastfeeding Success in Austin.

The Benefits of Bottle-Feeding in this Manner:

  • The infant will consume an appropriate amount to their size and age, rather than over- or under-eating.
  • This can minimize colic-like symptoms in the baby whose stomach is distended or over-fed.

How to Pace Feeds:

1. Hold the baby in a slightly reclined position with his head in line with his back (so that his head is not turned and his chin is not resting on his chest)

2. Use a slow flow nipple. Some moms find that a wide base nipple helps avoid nipple confusion.

3. Gently, allowing the infant to draw nipple into mouth rather than pushing the nipple into the infant’s mouth, so that baby controls when the feed begins. Stroke baby’s lips from top to bottom with the nipple to illicit a rooting response of a wide open mouth, and then allow the baby to “accept” the nipple rather than poking it in.

4. Keep the bottle horizontal, only vertical enough to keep milk in the nipple.

5. Let the baby get 3-4 sucks of milk.

6. Gently remove nipple from the baby’s mouth and rest it at his lips. It is important to not totally remove the bottle as this causes some babies to stress. Sometimes a slight turn of your wrist makes it easier to remove the nipple from baby’s mouth. These pauses give baby a chance to swallow and control the flow of milk. The pause discourages baby from guzzling a feed. It also mimics the way milk is taken from breastfeeding.

7. Allow baby to let you know when he is ready for the nipple back. This can be that the baby sucks it back in, bobs his head forward to reach it, or fusses.

8. Let baby have 2-3 sucks again before next pause. Repeat until baby is done feeding.

9. Allow baby to decide when to end the feeding. Often you will see this when baby turns her head or does not attempt to pull nipple back in during a pause.

Watch for signs of stress from baby such as furrowing of brow or widening of eyes. What can look like baby is guzzling bottle due to hunger may just be baby trying to keep up with a too strong milk flow!

Try to pace the feeding so that it takes 15-20 minutes to finish a bottle. Some babies will naturally start to pace themselves after being fed this way.

Approximate Amount Baby Takes at Each Bottle-Feeding:

Day one…5-7ml/1/2 tbs

Day three…22-27ml/.75-1oz

One week…45-60ml/1.5-2oz

One month…80-150ml/2.5-5oz

Between four to six months babies will often up their intake to 6-8 oz. This amount usually will remain fairly consistent until solid foods are introduced, when intake may decrease somewhat.

If your baby is taking substantially more than the average amounts, consider the possibility that baby is being given too much milk at a feeding. This is especially important if he is showing signs of discomfort. These signs can be excessive fussiness, discomfort when lying on his back to sleep, large amounts of spitting up, tightening of gut while crying (possibly indicating excessive gassiness).

Things that can contribute to overfeeding include:

Fast Flow Bottles:

Always use the lowest flow bottle nipple that baby will tolerate. Using bottle feeding as the primary way to comfort baby. Some well-meaning caregivers feed baby the bottle every time he makes a sound. Use the calculator above to estimate the amount of milk that baby needs, and start with that amount. Pace the feeding. If baby still seems to be hungry, have your caregiver first check to see whether baby will settle with walking, rocking, holding, etc. before offering another ounce or two.

Baby’s Need to Suck:

Babies have a very strong need to suck, and the need may be greater while mom is away (sucking is comforting to baby). When drinking from a bottle, baby gets a larger constant flow of milk as long as he is sucking. If breastfeeding is well established or if baby is solely bottle fed, consider encouraging baby to suck fingers or thumb, or consider using a pacifier to give baby something besides the bottle to satisfy his sucking needs.


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