bamama is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Paced Bottle Feeding: Should You Do It?

Paced Bottle Feeding Should You Do It

Feeding your baby every day may seem mundane after a while, but providing the best nutrients and experiences for your baby is crucial for their development.

Performing paced bottle feeding will help your baby transition from direct breastfeeding to formula feeding. It also comes with many other benefits that make it worth doing.

For example, you should consider paced bottle feeding if you plan to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby while still using breastmilk.

In this guide, I’ll explain what paced bottle feeding is, why you should consider it, and how to pace bottle feed your baby. I’ll also answer the commonly asked questions surrounding it.

What is Paced Bottle Feeding?

Paced bottle feeding is a technique used when bottle feeding a baby that intentionally slows the flow of breastmilk or baby formula down the bottle nipple towards your baby’s mouth.

It allows your baby to better control how much and how fast the liquid comes out of the bottle. This will reduce the chances of too much liquid flowing in at once.

Paced bottle feeding is similar to breastfeeding because it allows them to take breaks between sips. This gives your baby more time to decide if they want to drink more or are already full.

It’s a simple process that entails putting your baby in a more upright position than normal feeding, giving them more control over the liquid flow.

Benefits of Paced Bottle Feeding

Baby Won’t Take Bottle_ Follow these Hacks!

There are many benefits to paced bottle feeding that make it a no-brainer, especially if your little one often has milk leaking while bottle feeding or they squirm and cry while bottle feeding.

Preventing Nipple Confusion

Babies more used to breastfeeding might have trouble shifting to feeding via bottle. Paced bottle feeding helps ease this transition by closely mimicking the breastfeeding process.

The slower flow and control the baby has over that flow is what brings it closer to breastfeeding. They won’t get confused and fussy even when switching to a bottle just recently.

This also means you can seamlessly switch between bottle-feeding and breastfeeding, which is convenient if you need to bottle-feed breastmilk for whatever reason.

Reduces Risk of Choking and Ear Infections

Since paced bottle feeding requires your baby to be in a more upright position, this reduces the risk of too much liquid flowing into their mouth, possibly choking them.

Since the bottle is in your baby’s mouth the whole time during feeding, they’re breathing in between sips. Overflowing milk might catch them at the wrong time.

The excess formula or breastmilk could go to their Eustachian tubes even if it doesn’t go down the esophagus. This can cause a middle ear infection which isn’t quick to cure.

Helps Reduce Fussiness and Reflux

When a baby is fed too fast or given too much formula, they will get fussy, restless, and gassy. That’s both burping and farting!

This is because air bubbles will often get trapped between gulps or simply because too much formula comes in at once.

Many parents are familiar with the reflux that happens when a baby is fed too much. The baby will suddenly spit out the extra formula their stomachs couldn’t digest. 

Pacing helps ensure that they only drink what their bodies can handle at any given moment, reducing the risk of air bubbles forming and reflux from causing a mess on their clothes.

Avoiding Overfeeding

Overfeeding might not seem like much of a problem at first, but it can negatively impact your baby’s current and future health.

First, they’ll be taking in too many calories, causing them to become overweight. They’ll get used to continuously taking in food or drink even if they’re already full, building bad eating habits.

They won’t be able to build a healthy relationship with their natural hunger feeling and satisfy it themselves. Paced bottle feeding helps babies practice this hunger satisfaction.

How to Pace Bottle Feed?

How to Pace Bottle Feed

If you’ve decided that paced bottle feeding is the best method for feeding your baby, you might be wondering how to do it. Here are the steps you need to take.

Step 1: Hold the Baby Semi-upright

Hold your baby at a 45-degree upright angle instead of the standard flat angle. Support the neck and back of their head using the crook of their arm to reduce fatigue.

If you’re a bit uncomfortable with this position, try using a pillow and tucking it under your arm to give it more support.

Depending on your baby’s preference, they might slide down or sit more upright. Compensate for this so that they feel 100% comfortable, as this will help with how they feel when feeding.

Step 2: Nudge the Bottle Toward the Baby’s Lips

Next, bring the bottle closer to your baby’s mouth. Point the bottle’s nipple towards their mouth and gently nudge it against their lips so that they open up a little.

This makes it easier for you to insert the bottle tip into your baby’s mouth. Some babies might grip and hold their bottle, which is good for hand-eye coordination development.

Step 3: Tilt the Bottle Slightly

When the bottle’s nipple is inside your baby’s mouth, hold it horizontally, parallel to the ground. Then, tilt the bottle upwards slightly to move the liquid towards your baby’s mouth.

Make sure not to tilt it too much, because too much of an angle can cause the baby formula to rush toward their mouth. This defeats the purpose of paced bottle feeding.

If you’re tilting the bottle slightly, you’ll give your baby more control over how much formula or breastmilk they want to take in.

Step 4: Sip and Break Cycle

As your baby sips the bottle, you’ll want to give them around 20 or 30 seconds to drink. Afterward, lower the bottle until it’s horizontal and parallel to the ground again.

This will give your baby a break so they can breathe. This also allows them to check their appetite and see if they want to drink more or are no longer hungry.

When they’re ready to drink again, they’ll most likely grab at the bottle or start sipping from the bottle’s nipple. Repeat the sip and break cycle until they’re done drinking.

Step 5: Repeat Until the Baby’s Satisfied

Keep at this sip and break cycle for around 15 to 30 minutes. Start observing your baby’s body language and actions to see if they’re already full.

You’ll see this if they won’t take the bottle with their hands, move their head and mouth away from the bottle, or just won’t suck on the bottle nipple anymore.

Once you’re done feeding, you might also want to consider burping your baby to get rid of excess air bubbles they might have ingested.

Bonus Tip: Let Your Baby Lead

At some point, your baby won’t need help taking breaks. They’ll start to understand when they need to stop feeding to breathe and rest between sips.

You will notice that they will stop drinking on their own without you having to tilt the bottle up. This is great because it means they’re developing motor skills and appetite control.

Best Bottles for Paced Bottle Feeding

Choosing a bottle for paced bottle feeding involves picking two parts – the bottle’s nipple and the bottle container part

For the nipple, the best baby bottles have slow-flow nipples (sometimes called stage 1 nipples for newborn bottle feeding), because they are designed to closely mimic breastfeeding.

To see if the flow is slow enough, try putting it on a bottle, filling it with water, and turning it upside down. If the water drips once per second, it’s a good nipple for paced bottle feeding.

Sticking to smaller-sized bottles will help your baby avoid overfeeding. Newborn babies won’t need more than 120 ml per feeding; you can always refill the bottle if ever they want more.

Signs that Your Baby Is Hungry or Full

Signs that Your Baby Is Hungry or Full

Here are a few signs to check if your baby is still hungry or already full. Pay attention to these signs so you don’t overfeed or underfeed them.

If Your Baby Is Hungry,

  • They will pucker their lips, expecting a bottle.
  • They will turn their head toward any object near them (also called rooting).
  • They will have their fists clenched on top of their stomach or chest.
  • They will make sucking or smacking sounds.
  • They will start crying.

If Your Baby Is Full,

  • They will fall asleep while bottle feeding.
  • They will seal their lips and not let anything in.
  • They will push the bottle away or ignore it.
  • They will fidget, be fussy, and get distracted easily.
  • They will fully relax their hands.

Frequently Asked Questions

After learning more about paced bottle feeding and its benefits, you might have other questions about it. I’ve answered the most common ones below.

Can You Pace Bottle Feed a Newborn?

Paced bottle feeding is ideal for newborns because the bottle nipple you’d ideally use closely mimics breastfeeding. Your baby will have an easier time adapting to it.

This method slows down the liquid flow and gives more control of it to the baby, which will help them feed at the pace they need. It, therefore, reduces the chance of overfeeding.

Paced bottle-feeding your newborn also allows you to switch between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. This is especially useful if you want to bottle feed a mix of breastmilk and formula. 

How Long Should Paced Bottle Feeding Take?

The whole process should take between 15 and 30 minutes, but you should always check in with your baby to see if they’re full or want more. Each baby has a unique appetite.

This also depends on how often you give them breaks between sips, how fast the flow of formula or breastmilk is, and if your baby is fussy during the feeding process.

Does Paced Bottle Feeding Cause Gas?

No, paced bottle feeding doesn’t cause babies to burp or pass gas. In fact, it dramatically reduces the chance of gas or regurgitation due to the baby ingesting formula slower.

Gas, burping, and regurgitation are caused by air bubbles being swallowed along with the formula, which can happen whether you do paced or regular bottle feeding.

You can prevent them from being too gassy or regurgitating by burping your baby during and after feeding. Your baby will be much more comfortable after burping, allowing them to continue feeding without fuss.

When to Stop Paced Bottle Feeding?

You should stop paced bottle feeding when your baby shows signs of being full, like turning away the bottle, sealing their lips, or releasing their previously-closed fists.

If you’re talking about what age to stop doing it, it depends on when you decide to transition your baby to solid foods and cow’s milk. This usually happens at the 12-month mark.

Both formula and breast milk are good for one year with a recommended maximum of two years. Keeping them on formula or breastmilk past this age will affect their health.

What Is the Correct Position for Paced Bottle Feeding?

The best position to keep your baby in during paced bottle feeding is a semi-upright position, meaning almost upright but still slightly angled downwards.

This gives them more control over the formula or breast milk flow and allows you to give them breaks more easily.

Putting your baby in a more conventional flat position will make it more difficult for them to create a slower pace for feeding, which can increase the risk of regurgitation.

What Do I Feed My Baby if There Is No Formula or Breast Milk?

If you can’t find formula or breast milk, you can use plain full-fat whole cow’s milk or unsweetened fortified soy milk as substitutes.

However, these options are only temporary. You should look for places to buy breast milk or hypoallergenic baby formula if your baby needs it.

Conclusion

Whether you’re feeding your baby breast milk or baby formula through a bottle, paced bottle feeding is ideal if you want to avoid gas, regurgitation, or other health risks.

It’s a simple but effective way of teaching your baby how to control the feeding flow and listen to their appetite. This will help them develop healthy eating habits as they age.

Remember to pay attention to how your baby reacts and try to adjust to them. Give them more control over feeding as they learn how to. 

Sky Bustillo
Sky Bustillo

Hi, I’m Sky!
As a Filipina in her mid-20s, a sister to young ones, and a tita to my nieces and nephews, I somehow share the same sentiment as other parents. I have a growing aspiration of becoming a mom someday!
But there also comes a worry that you won’t be able to give the best to your children, especially with the food they eat, the products they use, and the new habits and hobbies we introduce to them.
Your kid’s safety and welfare are your top priority, that’s why I always make it to a point to learn from the stories and experiences of other moms.
It’s a delight to share what I learned and know to help the moms close to my heart, and this time, I’m writing to relay advice to you from the insights of other moms and my experience around kids, too.
I’d love to be a part of your journey, and I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful for you and your young one!