Bottlefeeding: an attachment parenting perspective from The Baby Book

From The Baby Book by William Sears & Martha Sears

A Person at Both Ends of the Bottle

The term "nursing" means comforting and nourishing, whether by breast or bottle. Feeding time is more than just a time for nutrition. It is also a time for special closeness. The mutual giving that is part of breastfeeding should also be enjoyed during bottlefeeding. Besides giving your infant a bottle, give him your eyes, your skin, your voice and your caresses. Baby will return to you more than just an empty bottle.

The special warmth of skin to skin contact can be accomplished by wearing short sleeves and partially undressing yourself and your baby when feeding. Hold the bottle alongside your breast as though it were coming from your body, and look into your baby's eyes. Interact with your baby during a feeding. You want your baby to feel that the bottle is part of you. Most babies, breastfed and bottlefed, feed better if your are quiet while they suck, but babies enjoy social interaction during pauses in the feedings. Watch your baby for signals that he wants to socialize during the feeding. Eventually you will develop an intuitive sense of your baby's feeding rhythm. Baby should feel that a person is feeding him, not just a bottle.

Reading Your Baby's Cues

Tempting as it is to give your baby a bottle every time he cries, using formula as a pacifier may lead to overfeeding. Learn alternative ways of comforting rather than automatically reaching for formula at the first whimper. Baby may only need holding, a playful interaction, a bottle of water when thirsty, a diaper change, or simply a change of activity. Bottlefeeding mothers actually need more of a variety of baby-comforting techniques than do breastfeeding mothers. Using breastfeeding as a pacifier is less likely to result in overfeeding.

Weaning Baby from the Bottle

Like weaning from the breast, there is no rush. It is not unusual or abnormal for baby to still want a bottle at two years of age. Bottles bother adults more than toddlers. If you wean your baby to a cup too early, be prepared to let him continue to use a pacifier to meet his sucking needs. The nighttime bottle is the most difficult to part with. Wean baby from nap and night bottles by a trick we call watering down (gradually dilute the bottle contents with increasing amounts of water until baby figures out it's not worth waking up and fussing for a bottle of water).

If your toddler is a picky eater and not yet skilled in cup drinking, allow daytime bottles of milk or formula…to ensure enough nutrition. When he is cup skilled and consistently eating a balanced diet of solids, gradually wean from bottle to cup.

Have a "you can't walk around with your drink" policy. Discourage baby from walking around with a bottle of juice. Some juice addicts cling ferociously to this sticky companion. Not only will there be juice trails throughout the house, but this habit is hard to break.

If baby has a love affair with the bottle and needs it for a pacifier, gradually "lose" the bottle and substitute other "pacifiers", preferably human ones.

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