It’s such a hot topic. breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. I’m not here to weigh in on that or be judgmental I believe that breast milk is best for babies and I am 100% in support of that. But unfortunately, things don’t always work out the way we hope. Sometimes situations are beyond our control and we must make a difficult decision to bottle feed our babies (formula or expressed milk). Thankfully, there are options out there and our children can receive the nutrition they need in other ways.
For me, when I ultimately made the decision to formula feed my babies, I grieved, a lot. It was emotionally and mentally hard for me, not only the lack of complete nutrition and antibodies in breast milk, but also the change in the bond with my children. One of the pros of bottle feeding is allowing other people (father, grandparents, etc) to participate in feeding baby, during the day and night. However, I desperately missed the bond, the connection of breast feeding.
So here are my feelings on preserving the ‘bond’ of breastfeeding while bottle feeding. (NOTE: these tips can also be used if you choose or need to exclusively pump and bottle feed breastmilk!) Some of these tips I made sure to always employ, and some of them I learned the hard way. They aren’t rules, and there are exceptions, of course, but hopefully these will give you something to think about.
Make a point to hold your child while feeding them.
Avoid setting your child on the floor or in a rocker or seat and propping a bottle or letting them hold it themselves. Take the time to sit, holding your child in your lap, sing, talk, or just make eye contact with them. Bottle feeding is convenient and it’s easy to want to just stick a bottle in their hands and go about the MANY tasks that constantly call our names, but try to fight that temptation, as much as possible.
Avoid checking your phone or watching TV. Take the time to focus on your child. That bond is precious, and they will only lay still in your arms for a short while. Before you know it, they are three and bouncing off the walls with energy.
This was hard initially with the twins, as they ate so often and for so long, that it was necessary for me to feed them at the same time. I placed them in boppies and held each of their bottles with one hand. While they didn’t have the close body snuggles that would have been ideal, it was perfect to see both their faces and talk to them.
Now that they are bigger, I feed each of the twins separately in my lap. It’s some of my favorite snuggle times with them.
Emotionally, trying to follow these tips has allowed me to salvage part of the precious bond that I so desperately grieved when I was forced to make the decision not to breastfeed. I have high hopes that with a lot of learning under my belt, this time, with bunny, will be different.
But ultimately it’s not what kind of milk they are getting, but the kind of love they get that will make the difference. Love on your babies for babies don’t keep.