Returning to work and being away from baby are just a few of the reasons parents decide to offer their babies a bottle. The transition to bottle-feeding can be difficult, but a little planning makes it easier on both you and your baby.
You might find that having someone else feed your baby every once in a while gives you time to work, to do other necessary things, or to take time for yourself and your family. If you will be giving a bottle on a regular basis, it is typically best to introduce the first bottle-feeding at around 4 to 6 weeks of age.
Feeding expressed milk
If you plan to feed expressed breast milk (pumped breast milk), you will need to decide when to start pumping and storing mom's milk. Introduce your baby to a bottle a few weeks before you need to, but wait until your baby is at least 3 weeks old to prevent nipple confusion or bottle rejection.
Creating a supply of extra milk
To feed expressed breast milk, mom should start pumping breast milk at home 3 to 4 weeks before needing to be at work or away. For a return to work, have enough stored for the first day back. For an extended absence, like a business trip, start building up a surplus of milk to cover the length of the absence. Most full-term breastfed babies require about 24 to 30 fluid ounces (≈700–885 mL) of milk for a 24-hour period. Some moms create a surplus of frozen milk in case of emergencies. Label your milk and store it in a freezer for future use.
You might notice some initial resistance. Most babies need time to adjust to an artificial nipple. In addition, you might also consider having another person give your baby a bottle of expressed breast milk, so your infant is more flexible and can get nourishment from other people, not just you.
Communicating with your caregiver
Make sure your caregiver knows your baby’s feeding schedule. Give written instructions on how to store and use your expressed breast milk. Try to have your caregiver schedule the daytime feedings so that your baby will be hungry and ready to breastfeed when you arrive home from work. If your baby is hungry before then, the caregiver can give a snack-sized portion of stored milk.
Supplementing with infant formula
If you need to add infant formula to supplement your breast milk, or need to switch to infant formula from breast milk, it is best to start introducing infant formula in small quantities mixed with breast milk for 1 to 2 weeks. This allows mom's breasts to reduce the amount of milk that is made for less frequent feedings and also helps baby adjust to using a bottle that has more infant formula and less breast milk. In this way, your baby’s taste buds and stomach gradually get used to formula.
The next week, introduce two feedings of infant formula each day. Make sure to keep the total number of feedings the same. Again, express only enough milk for relief. The law of supply and demand will work and gradually mom's breasts will adjust and make less milk. Engorgement and the need to express milk when away will decrease over time.