Bottle Feeding and Breastfeeding


Can Bottle Feeding Affect Breastfeeding?

Many new parents worry that bottle feeding will have a negative effect on their breastfeeding relationship.  It is such a pervasive fear that there are literally hundreds of pages on Google on the topic. There are multiple reasons why people, particularly new mothers, think that bottle feeding affects breastfeeding and unfortunately, there are numerous instances how this belief has been damaging. Rest assured that, for the most part, bottle feeding does not negatively impact breastfeeding, and as you’ll see, supplementing with a bottle might even be beneficial!

Why is this belief so common?

One of the main reasons people think that bottle feeding might disrupt successful breastfeeding relationships is due to the so-called phenomena that is “nipple confusion”. Up until very recently, the general consensus was that a bottle nipple and a breast nipple were so vastly different that it would confuse the baby and that would render him/her unable to properly suckle from the breast any longer. We now know this to be inaccurate. While it is true that the nipples are obviously different, it is not true that babies cannot differentiate and modify their mouth movements when eating.  Sometimes, all it takes is finding the right nipple. We all have our preferences, even from day one.

Another reason that people believe that breastfeeding will abruptly end if baby is introduced to a bottle is because of flow. Bottles tend to flow faster and thus babies get more milk when eating from a bottle; however, this issue can be resolved with the right nipple and with paced feeding strategies. Bottle nipples are categorized by “stage” so that the speed of released milk is comparable to the breast and is appropriate for the baby’s developmental needs.

Lastly, very often, parents worry that if they introduce a bottle, their baby will get too full from either the flow, the decreased labor necessary to eat from a bottle, or from formula itself.  They think that if the baby becomes too satiated, they won’t nurse. Again, this issue can be prevented with various techniques and the right bottle. Finding the perfect bottle, the right positioning, and the right feeding schedule is critical for relieving worry and staying stressless! BlueSmart mia helps by doing the entire math for you so that you can enjoy your bottle and breastfeeding moments.

Why it’s damaging

These beliefs are damaging because it discourages a lot of new families from seeking additional ways to feed their babies, thus causing more stress and anxiety than is necessary. Furthermore, the very thing that can often salvage a breastfeeding journey is bottle feeding! Believe it or not, supplementing with expressed milk or formula through use of a bottle can be empowering and the lifeline that new mothers need. This is especially true in specific instances such as delayed maturation of colostrum into milk, full-time working moms, chronically sleep-deprived moms, etc.  However, because of misinformation in regards to the subject, too many people refuse to consider how bottle feeding can positively affect breastfeeding.

The reality is that bottle feeding generally will not have any undesirable consequences or outcomes for people who desperately need or want to use them and maintain nursing, yet we just don’t hear this truth.  On top of that, most negative effects can be mitigated with support and strategies that keep baby happy and healthy. It is paramount that parents know that they can use bottles and still breastfeed so that they can sustain themselves and their baby with less stress and more happiness!

Posted by:
Heather Horrell


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