By Guest Author Dr. Natasha Burgert, Philips Avent pediatrician
How Babies Feed
Feeding is essential to the healthy growth and development of your baby. Successful feeding, however, goes beyond just milk and bottles. Infant feeding happens through a unique interaction of physiology, equipment, and experience, in which both you and your baby equally participate. This guide will help you understand the elements of the feeding process and get you on the right track for success.
All babies are born with the ability to eat. This survival adaptation is known as the sucking reflex and is triggered by anything that touches the roof of a baby’s mouth, like a breast, pacifier, or baby’s own fingers. When baby begins to suck, the infant’s tongue juts forward and gently curls around the milk source. Milk is expressed by a wave-like movement of the tongue, effectively pulling milk into the mouth. As the tongue relaxes into neutral position, milk flow slows. In this way, the infant controls the pace of feeding.
Infants translate this sucking reflex to various feeding styles including breast/chest, cup, syringe and bottle feeding. For parents who choose to use a bottle, choosing a feeding system that is designed to support baby’s natural feeding reflex results in a more comfortable and personalized feeding experience.
Choosing the Right Bottle
Most parents choose a feeding plan that includes using a bottle exclusively or intermittently throughout the first year of life. When choosing a bottle, select a system that can adapt to the changes baby goes through during this time, including the ability to offer milk at different flow rates based on baby’s cues.
Choose a bottle system with:
Soft, breast-shaped nipples to mimic nursing latch
Bottles in different sizes and with interchangeable parts
Limited number of parts to keep cleaning to a minimum
Nipple design to allow milk release and pause most similar to breastfeeding
Various nipple flow rates to help customize baby’s feeding pace
Parts that are both dishwasher and sterilizer-safe
Philips Avent Natural bottle with Natural Response Nipple is designed to let baby control the feeding pace. The soft, silicone, breast-shaped nipple allows milk to freely flow when baby is sucking. While baby is pausing to breathe and returns the tongue to neutral position, the Natural Response Nipple stops milk flow. The result is a bottle that works like a breastfeeding experience and baby’s sucking reflex.
FAQ: Is it okay to mix up the bottles I use?
Just like adults, babies develop preferences and habits. Although it’s possible for most babies to accommodate their feeding experience when different bottle types are presented, using the same bottle will allow consistency and customization to your baby’s feeding preferences. Philips Avent Natural bottle with Natural Response Nipple has interchangeable parts and a variety of nipple flow rates, so you can confidently invest in one system that will be able to grow with your baby while providing a personalized feeding experience.
When to Start Using a Bottle
When you use a bottle designed specifically for infant feeding, babies are able to successfully feed from a bottle as early as the first day of life. However, if you choose to breastfeed, working with lactation support to prioritize initial feeding time at the breast is the primary goal.
Should your baby need supplementation with expressed breastmilk or formula, choose a bottle system that best mimics the breastfeeding experience to help baby transition from breast to bottle and back. Philips Avent Natural bottle with Natural Response Nipple has a unique tip to release milk only when baby is actively drinking and pauses flow when baby relaxes to breathe, just like breastfeeding. In addition, the bottle is compatible with a wide variety of nipple flow rates to find the perfect flow for your baby’s pace.
If not exclusively bottle-feeding, most parents choose to introduce a bottle of human milk or formula after nursing is well-established, or about two-weeks of age. Babies can successfully learn how to use a variety of feeding tools rather quickly.
FAQ: What if I start the bottle too soon?
Deciding when to introduce a bottle can be stressful for new parents. The internet and well-meaning friends and family often perpetuate the myths of “nipple confusion” and breastfeeding failure if a bottle is introduced too early. The reality is that offering a bottle of expressed milk or formula is a common way to support breastfeeding and other feeding goals.
Offering a bottle of expressed milk or formula can supply the calories baby needs while parent and baby are mastering nursing technique. Bottle feeding is also a way to support baby while the birthing parent takes time to recover from delivery. In addition, bottle feeding is one way to allow all caregivers to support a new parent.
Newer bottle systems are designed for easy transition from the breast and back, making it nearly impossible to hinder a parent’s feeding plan when used correctly. Philips Avent Natural bottle with Natural Response Nipple is specifically designed to let baby control the pace of feeding, just like breastfeeding. The soft, breast-shaped nipple is available in different flow rates to customize the feeding experience to your baby’s needs.
Talk with your pediatrician to determine when introducing the bottle is best for your family, based on your baby’s needs and feeding goals.
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