Dr. Sarah Winward, ND
Choosing a bottle can be confusing, especially if you’re planning on primarily breastfeeding/ chestfeeding. You’ve probably heard about nipple confusion or bottle preference and, rightfully, you’re a bit worried about this happening to you!
As an IBCLC, I regularly support families who use bottles some or all of the time. Here are my tips on what to look for when choosing a bottle for your baby:
- Is it comfortable for you to hold?
This has nothing to do with baby, but if you’re planning on using bottles regularly, it needs to be comfortable. Some of the bottles on the market that are designed to “mimic” breasts are not remotely ergonomic. I recommend holding a few of different sizes to see what feels best for you.
- The nipple should be long with a wide base, not “nubby”.
These are the 2 general shapes you’ll see for both bottle nipples and pacifiers. A “nubby” nipple often encourages babies to have a very shallow latch, because their mouths rest comfortably around the nub and their lips end up on the smallest part. You want your baby to have a wide open mouth to avoid pain with nursing, these types of bottles are not doing you any favours. Try to find a nipple that is longer with a wide base. When you’re bottle feeding make sure your baby’s mouth is fully down around the base of the nipple so their mouth is wide open.
- Look for a slow flow nipple.
Bottle preference generally happens because bottles have very fast flow. While bodyfeeding, you have to ask for the milk to flow in order to get it going. If you tip a bottle upside down milk will drip out the nipple. When a slower flow nipple, you get less of that dripping because the hole is smaller. That means it’s going to be less overwhelming for baby if you do tip it up and it means that baby has to work to get the milk moving.
The biggest thing to remember is that HOW YOU FEED YOUR BABY MATTERS THE MOST. Paced bottle feeding is a bottle feeding technique that mimics the flow of milk from the breast. We have an article on how to pace a bottle, including a video here.