transitioning to bottle

The need to use a bottle can arise in a few situations. Maybe mom has low production and needs to supplement with formula. Perhaps baby has started teething, making breastfeeding uncomfortable for mom. How does this transition relate to nannying though? When it’s time for mom to go back to work how practical would it be for her to do so – and thus hire a nanny – if mom has to leave work early to make sure baby has food? In any situation, introducing bottles can be challenging but necessary.

Using bottles doesn’t mean that you can’t continue breastfeeding when you get home. In fact, it’s better to do both when you are first starting to get the baby comfortable with a bottle.

Now, let’s talk about a few tricks to starting bottle feeding.

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When Should I Try to Use the Bottle?

To prevent complications, this preparation should start four to six weeks after baby is born. Do this with each baby you have. Every baby is different and may transition at a different rate. First, it’s important to remember to simulate breastfeeding. The goal is to make eating from a bottle as close to breastfeeding as possible, since it’s already familiar.

Try bottle feeding about one hour after baby has breastfed so they are hungry, but not starving. This will help eliminate frustration for the baby if they struggle getting the hang of it. In the beginning, try bottle feeding once per day. Whatever feeding schedule you choose, feed with the bottle at the same time everyday. This will help a ton when you go back to work. By scheduled feeding the baby will learn that after their morning feeding with mom, they will have bottles until again before bed.

While baby is attempting bottle feeding, it’s best for mom to be in and stay in a different room. Mom can take this opportunity to shower, take a nap, or pump for later. It’s best to pump 30-60 minutes after a morning breastfeeding for the most milk. Pumping in short, frequent sessions in the beginning is great for relieving pain and starting your storage supply. This is because baby won’t eat as much as your body can produce in the beginning.

Pro Tip: Check with your insurance about which pumps they will cover before you start your research. This will save you time and money. The Medela pump is the best of the ones covered by most insurances in Washington.


If you are using a bottle for formula, never mix formula with breast milk or use breast milk as a water replacement.

Prep the Milk :

Warm the bottle of fresh breast milk or frozen bag, with a bottle warmer. This will keep the temperature of the milk even throughout the bottle. Swirl don’t shake! This will limit the number of air bubbles in the milk, making it smoother for the baby. Fewer air bubbles, less gas in the baby’s tummy. Don’t forget to check the temperature on your inner wrist. It should be body temperature. If it’s too warm let it sit with the top off for a bit to cool down before giving it another try.

If you or your family are in need of a milk warmer, check out one of the options available at Amazon, such as the Philips Avent Fast Baby Bottle Warmer.

Positioning the Baby:

Swaddle the baby, so they’re nice a cozy. Hold them close, sitting them up a bit, so they have to put the same amount of effort into suckling from the bottle as they do mom’s breast. It’s best to have someone other than mom to bottle feed the baby, so they only correlate mom with breastfeeding.

This is the swaddle that I use while feeding baby.

Get it here.

Give it a Try:

When bottle feeding, switch sides half way through the bottle, burping the baby in between sides. To match breastfeeding patterns, alternate which side you start on. For example, if you start feeding holding the bottle in your right hand, the next time you feed the baby you should start by holding the bottle in the left hand. Make sure to always tell the mom which side you started on and what time you start feeding, so she can pump accordingly. This way, her and baby will be on the same schedule when they are reunited and you have a record of which side you started on for next time.

Don’t forget to cuddle baby while feeding with a bottle. Giving attention and skin to skin contact while bottle feeding will help baby enjoy it as much as breastfeeding.

If baby gets fussy, sooth them and try again. After a few times with the same bottle, if you’re still having a hard time, you may want to try another brand. Don’t be afraid to try different bottles. It’s okay to go through a bunch of different bottles and nipples. I’ve had success using Dr. Brown’s bottles and Comotomo bottles with the babies I work with. Also, look for a more slow-flow nipple. This will cause the baby to have to work for the milk rather than it pouring down their throat if they seem to have a problem choking on the milk.

As a nanny, I’ve had great success using Dr. Brown’s bottles. Dr. Brown’s bottles are clinically proven to reduce colic. 

Comotomo bottles are what my nanny family currently use. Comotomo bottles mimic the breastfeeding experience & reduce bottle rejection. 

If you have specific more questions about transitioning baby to bottle or preparing for a nanny, fill out my contact form or subscribe to my newsletter to directly reply via email.

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