Spoon, Cup and Paced Bottle Feeding

Spoon, cup and paced bottle feeding 

Spoon feeding

Cup feeding

Paced Bottle Feeding

Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) and Nipple Shields

Some reasons for different feeding methods include: 

  • Baby or mother's health and medical condition 
  • Mother is not making enough milk for a number of reasons including breast injury, and surgery
  • Separation of mother and baby (for example, illness, surgery, or adoption)
  • Use of necessary medication that is not safe to take while breastfeeding

Spoon feeding

You can give expressed breast milk to your baby using a spoon. This method works best if your baby leads it and controls the speed of the feeding . Spoon feeding your baby instead of using an artificial nipple can help to reduce the risk of nipple confusion.

  • Put a bib on your baby, because some breast milk may spill.
  • Sit your baby up on your lap using one hand to support your baby's upper back and neck.
  • Bring spoon to your baby's mouth and tip so that the breast milk just touches your baby's lips. It should NOT be poured into your baby's mouth.
  • Your baby will lap the breast milk up by moving his tongue forward.
  • Allow your baby time to swallow before refilling spoon and offering more breast milk. This will let your baby control the speed of the feeding.

Cup feeding

Babies of all ages are able to drink from a cup (even small premature babies). You can start giving expressed breast milk in a small plastic or glass cup such as a medicine cup .

  • Put a bib on your baby, because some breast milk may spill.
  • Sit your baby up on your lap using one hand to support your baby's upper back and neck.
  • Place edge of the cup gently against your baby's bottom lip and tip so that the breast milk just touches your baby's lips.  It should NOT be poured into your baby's mouth. Your baby will lap the breast milk up by moving his tongue forward.
  • Keep cup tipped during feeding so that the breast milk is always in contact with your baby's lips. This will let your baby control the speed of the feeding.

Paced Bottle Feeding

The way a baby sucks on a bottle nipple or pacifier is very different from how a baby sucks at the breast. For this reason it is best to not introduce any bottles until after breastfeeding is going well. This is usually about 4 to 6 weeks after your baby is born. Giving your baby a bottle before breastfeeding is going well can affect breastfeeding including building up your milk supply. 

Paced bottle feeding is when you control or pace the flow of milk to be like breastfeeding. It also helps your baby keep breastfeeding behaviours while they feed from the bottle. Here is how to pace feeds:

  • Hold your baby in an upright position, supporting their head and neck with your hand.
  • Feed your baby skin-to-skin if possible.
  • Use a wide-based, slow-flow nipple.
  • Touch your baby's upper lip with the bottle nipple until your baby opens their mouth wide.
  • Tip bottle horizontally. Let your baby pull the nipple into their mouth so their lips close on the wide base of the bottle nipple.
  • Keep nipple partially full as it will help your baby control flow better. Your baby will naturally swallow air during feeds.
  • If your baby gets tense or gulps, stop feed. Stop the feed by tilting bottle down to stop flow but keeping bottle nipple in contact with your baby's lower lip. This way your baby can pull the nipple back into their mouth.
  • Your baby will learn to take breaks and 3 to 5 second pauses on their own usually after the fourth or fifth suck and as needed.
  • When you think your baby is nearly full, twist and remove bottle keeping the nipple lying on your baby's lip as described above. If your baby takes bottle again, let your baby feed for a short period (for example, 5-10 swallows) and repeat process. When your baby has had enough to drink they will not open their mouth when you try to give them the bottle. This is 1 sign a baby uses to let you know they are full.
  • Throw away any breast milk left in the bottle after the feeding.

Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) and Nipple Shields

You should not start the use of these aids on your own. Talk to a Lactation Consultant or your health care provider about if you need to use them. To find a Lactation Consultant in your area, visit Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants.

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