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  • Mallory Millet

Bottle Feeding Red Flags

My doctor says that baby is gaining weight so there must be nothing wrong. But what if there is? And what can you do about it?

I don’t know what a good bottle feeding is supposed to look like. How do I know if I am doing it right?

Why are these signs missed?

Bottle feeding takes skill. It requires the coordination of multiple different muscles working in perfect synchrony not only for the act of feeding but also for safety. Bottle feeding is individualized. No experience is the same. It’s those differences that need to be acknowledged and which are often overlooked.

The majority of the time bottle feeding is taken advantage of. It is used as the fall back when breast feeding isn’t going as planned vs supporting the parent in their journey properly. And when there are bottle difficulties, the most common recommendation I hear is to just increase the flow rate. The goal of bottle feeding seems to simply be: weight gain. But bottle feeding is more than that. It is a bonding experience. It is motor skill that requires work to maintain and continue to develop the muscles of the tongue, lips, cheeks, swallow mechanism. A baby passively swallowing liquid is not the answer. Negatively changing how the systems are supposed to work is not the answer.

How do I Know?

Top signs: clicking, loss of milk, spit up/ reflux, frustration, crying, back arching, falling asleep. These all indicate that baby is having difficulty somewhere. Is it muscle function, muscle tone, intaking air? That is what needs to be assessed. Finding the root cause for your baby’s frustrations. Modifications and compensatory strategies do not solve the problem, they mask it and, in some cases, make it worse.

What you want to see? Calm, hands relaxed, body aligned, pleasant experience.

Now what?

Trust your instincts. Ask your pediatrician for local support: feeding therapists or lactation consultants with experience in infant bottle feeding. Reach out for 1:1 support, www.thefeedingmom.com.

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