It’s easy to assume that your little one is just really hungry, so they chug down their milk within 2 minutes tops. But it could also be because they are sucking for soothing and not always. After all, they want to feed. It could also be because of the milk flow of the nipple, your position, or because they need some help and you need to pace their milk intake.
Babies do not recognize if they are full as easily as we do, they will need a couple of minutes to process that, and if they feed too fast, there will not be enough time for them to recognize the feeling of being full which could lead to overfeeding.
How to avoid overfeeding your baby?
For breastfeeding babies, the overactive letdown of mommy is usually a common reason for overfeeding. For that, you might want to speak with your local lactation consultant, but for bottle-fed babies, there could be multiple reasons.
One of which is your baby drinking his milk too fast, so how can we help them slow down?
Paced bottle-feeding – It is the practice of slowing down a baby’s bottle-feeding to copy breastfeeding patterns better.
This feeding method teaches babies to better self-regulate, taking in breast milk or formula from a bottle, so they know when they are full and don’t overeat.
How to do paced bottle feeding
- Hunger cues – wait for the signs that your baby is hungry, they could put their hand in their mouth, making sucking motions, rooting, or whimpering. I know most moms tend to use time as a guide when to feed their little ones (I know I did) but letting your baby decide when he’s hungry would avoid the possibility of consuming more milk that he actually need.
- Slow-flow nipple – this one right here is as important as knowing how much you need to feed your baby by their age, unlike with breastfeeding that is regulated by your body and your baby. Make sure that you use a nipple with a slow milk flow to help in regulating the feeding process of your baby.
- Semi-upright position – this position will help you control the milk flow while supporting your baby’s head and neck while feeding. The bottle should be horizontal to the floor to get the position right.
- Suck the nipple first – let your baby suck the nipples without getting any milk for the first few seconds, this is especially helpful for breastfed babies because it mimics feeding from the breast. Milk doesn’t come right away and breastfed babies will need to suck for a minute to bring the milk forward.
- 20-30 seconds to feed – allow your baby to drink their milk within this period of time, they should be able to do 3-5 swallows before giving them a pause.
- Breaks for breathing – give your little one some time to catch their breath, you don’t need to pull out the nipple in the mouth. All you need to do is tip the bottle a little so they keep on sucking but will not be getting any milk, after a few seconds tip the bottle back so they can feed for the next 20-30 seconds again.
- Repeat until they are full – with this paced feeding strategy, your baby will have enough time to recongnize the feeling of being full and that they don’t need to chug in more milk. Your baby will then start to show sign of fullness like pushing the bottle away, not sucking after a break, or turning their head from the bottle. If your baby finished a bottle and continue to show signs of hunger, give them more milk or they could get full before finishing a bottle.
Benefits of paced bottle feeding
There are multiple benefits to practicing paced-bottle feeding with your baby, one of which is that it teaches babies to better self-regulate, taking in breast milk or formula from a bottle. Hence, they know when they are full and don’t overeat, it also prevents your baby from getting an upset stomach, gas, and spit-ups.
Paced bottle feeding is helpful for any baby, and it can be especially necessary for premature infants. Premature babies may have trouble coordinating bottle feeding with breathing and may experience apnea or bradycardia during a feed.
Watch your baby for signs of trouble, and pause the feeding if your baby has trouble breathing, gags, goes limp, or has a drop in heart rate or oxygen saturation.
- Avoid over eating – it allows your baby to get enough time to recognize the feeling of being full. If your baby feeds too fast, the excess milk would already be in their stomach before they even realize that they are getting full which could also lead to an upset stomach, besides being overfed.
- Avoids gas, spit-ups, and upset stomach – for the baby’s first few months, their digestive system are still developing, it would gradually be capable of a large amount of milk but for the first couple of weeks or months, they are very much prone to upset stomach, spit-ups, and gas. Getting more milk that they actually could by their age would lead to spit-ups and helping them regulate their milk intake would minimize it. A gassy baby is a fussy baby, having a tiny stomach and having excess air in there could be uncomfortable, a feeling your baby is not ready to hadle well like we do, paced bottled feeding could help your baby release the air (in between feeding and breaks) before it gets to the stomach.
- Avoid underfeeding too – since this feeding method lets your baby decide when he is feeding and how much milk he needs, if you pace a feeding and they drink the entire bottle, it’s much easier to see that they need to be offered more. A baby who quickly drains a bottle before knowing they’re full may take another bottle when they didn’t actually need it.
- Helps feeding between breast and bottle – when a baby feeds too fast from a bottle, breastfeeding can be disrupted, when mothers go between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding a baby may become frustrated on the breast when the flow doesn’t mimic what they’ve come to expect from their bottle. A common issue between babies who are both breastfed and bottle-fed is that a mother thinks that her supply is not keeping up with her baby’s needs when in fact, they baby is overfeeding every time they take a bottle. This makes it difficult for a pumping mom to keep up.
Knowing that your baby finds no issue in drinking from a bottle is already a relief. Nothing is ever simple in taking care of a baby anyways.
They could either won’t drink from a bottle or drink too much, but knowing what your baby needs and what will be best for them is a sure additional point from being a great parent.
Feel free to tell us your personal experience, what works for you and your baby in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you; stay healthy and happy!