Pace bottle feeding

**What is Paced Bottle Feeding?**

Pace(d) bottle feeding is a responsive feeding technique designed to mirror the slower, more controlled flow of breastfeeding. The idea is to allow babies to feed at their own pace, promoting better digestion, reduced gas, and helping to prevent overfeeding. There are a few things about how it’s being taught to families with older babies, though, that have always bothered me as NICU trained SLP.

Pace bottle feeding was originally used and taught in the NICU setting with preemie babies for before their suck, swallow, breathe coordination was fully developed. We needed to be in charge of the bottle, because babies born before their due date lack maturity for self pacing and are at a higher risk of fatigue and other medical issues like aspiration and bradycardia/tachycardia from feeding.

Pace bottle feeding is often shown as baby sitting upright with the bottle nipple only half full of milk. Caregivers are encouraged to tip the bottle down frequently every few swallows to slow baby down. The bottle is also removed at regular intervals for burping. This can work fine for the first week or two while baby is learning to feed, but there are a few flaws to this.

📌I’m not a fan of half full nipples. Air mixed with milk is what increases swallowing air which can cause reflux and digestive discomfort. I recommend keeping the nipple full

📌Externally pacing the baby is fine in the initial weeks after birth, but we really want baby pacing themselves. If they are constantly chugging from the bottle, that’s a bottle issue. Decrease the level or nipple or change bottles to find a flow that allows baby to take breaks when they want to

📌An upright position is fine for babies 3+ months, but I see so many newborns hunched or scrunched in this position, which leads to pressure on the belly. Having baby in an upright side lying position mimics being at the breast and allows a long, straight torso for easier digestion

📌Yes!!!! We want baby to pace their feedings. That means it would take a similar amount of time as the breast: 15-30 minutes for the first 6-8 weeks and then to match the time at the breast after that it can range from 5-30 depending on how fast mom’s let down is.

How Paced Bottle Feeding has been taught:

👶🏻Hold Baby Upright: Sit baby in a semi-upright position to reduce air intake and reflux

🍼Controlled Bottle Angle: Hold the bottle horizontally, allowing milk to fill the nipple (some are taught to only fill it half way) but not flow freely.

🧭Pause and Check-In: Offer short breaks during feeding to gauge baby's cues for hunger or fullness.

💡Encourage Sucking Reflex: Let baby control the pace of feeding by actively sucking to draw milk, rather than having milk continuously drip.

🔮Observe Cues: Watch for signs of satiety (e.g., slowing down, turning away) to know when baby is full.

Benefits of Paced Feeding:

- **Supports Digestion:** Reduces the risk of overfeeding and minimizes gas and spit-up.

- **Mimics Breastfeeding:** Helps babies develop a natural feeding rhythm similar to breastfeeding.

- **Promotes Self-Regulation:** Encourages babies to eat until they are satisfied, rather than finishing a bottle due to continuous milk flow.

**When to Use Paced Bottle Feeding:**

- **Breastfeeding Transition:** Ideal for young babies who are both breastfed and bottle-fed to maintain consistency in feeding patterns.

- **Preventing Overfeeding:** Helps prevent babies from overeating by allowing them to control the pace.

- **Bonding and Interaction:** Fosters a closer feeding experience between caregiver and baby.

**Final Thoughts:**

Paced bottle feeding is not just about feeding; it's about creating a nurturing and responsive feeding environment for your baby. By tuning into your baby's cues and allowing them to guide the feeding process, you can support healthy growth and development while fostering a positive feeding relationship.

Have you tried paced bottle feeding with your baby? Share your experiences and tips below! 💬🍼 #PacedFeeding #ParentingTips #BabyCare