Alternative feeding methods
There are many different feeding methods for feeding your baby expressed breastmilk. The age of your baby makes a big difference in which option you choose. If your baby is less than four weeks old, it is best not to give them a bottle in order to avoid nipple confusion. Nipple confusion happens when a baby is exposed to an artificial nipple (bottle nipple, or pacifier), and he or she has trouble going back and forth between the breast and the artificial nipple. Artificial nipples require a different use of the baby’s jaw and muscles than the breast does. The bottle can also cause flow confusion for a baby, as a bottle flows much faster than the breast. If your baby is older than four weeks, you can use a bottle as an alternative feeding method to the breast, but there are many other options too. The cup, which can either be a regular drinking cup, or cup that is smaller than a traditional cup and usually made of silicone, can be used for young babies and up. If your baby is older than four months, you can go directly to using a cup, rather than a bottle for feeding expressed breastmilk. Some babies younger than four months can use a cup too, so it is always worth testing out different feeding methods to see which one works best for your baby. To feed your baby with a cup, hold him or her as upright as possible, using a cloth diaper or towel to catch any drips. Tilt the cup up to the baby’s mouth; the rim of the cup should rest on the lower lip, with the baby’s tongue inside the cup. Leave the cup in this position and the baby will usually sip or lap up the milk from the cup. For a younger baby, use a cup that is shot glass sized. For an older baby, you can use a regular cup, or a cup with a straw. Let the baby set the pace of the feeding, and be sure never to pour the milk into his or her mouth.
Another feeding option is finger feeding. Finger feeding uses a soft, fine, tubing which attaches to your finger. You then let the baby suck on your finger, palm up. You can also use a spoon, syringe, or a dropper to feed your baby expressed breastmilk. Using a spoon is similar to cup feeding, just place the tip of the spoon on the baby’s lower lip, and let he or she lap up the milk. To use a syringe, or dropper, have the baby suck on the end, and reward each suck with a squeeze of milk. If your baby requires supplementation, but is still being breastfed, you can use a supplemental nursing system (SNS). (This can also be used for an adoptive mom who wants to breastfeed). An SNS is a bottle or bag, which hangs around the mother’s neck, and has a tube extending out of each side. One tube is then taped to each breast. The baby can then suck at the breast, while mom controls the flow of breastmilk coming from the tube. Other adults can also use the SNS as a finger feeder by taping the tubing to their finger.