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Doctor-approved feeding resources for pregnancy thru childhood

Baby Bottles and Dad

Picture of Olivia's dad Alex feeding her with the Hevea bottle
From the first time Alex fed Olivia in the hospital to sorting out their bottle feeding routine we learned a lot. This is a dad primer on baby bottles. Are you a dad? Don’t miss out on feeding. It’s pretty special.

While we were still in the hospital, I noticed the look on my husband’s face when I fed Olivia – he was jealous! He was not able to calm Olivia with the same clumsy ease as me and my boob. Even as breastfeeding novices, we were so snuggly during feeds. I got it real quick: feeding was special and dad wanted in! For my family, sharing that responsibility was something we wanted to do right away. Here’s how we got started with baby bottles.

  1. Our Pediatrician said go for it
  2. I got pumping
  3. Alex and Olvia tested different kinds of baby bottles
  4. They picked their favorite and we stuck to it
  5. We were consistent: 1 bottle a day

Alex and Olivia’s Baby Bottle Story

From the moment Olivia was born, she knew how to eat. Her latch was textbook and I knew we were lucky. Even with everything going well, the hospital pediatrician recommended we supplement until my milk came in because Olivia was losing weight (as babies do!) and she had jaundice. Fine. 

With guidance from a lactation consultant, we were given this funny contraption called a Supplemental Nursing System AKA an SNS. You can use this tube feeding system in many ways, but the most common is to tape it to mom’s chest to add some extra umph to her own supply. You can also tape the tube to a finger and that’s what Alex did. 

This was the first time Alex fed Olivia. 

Ahh! It was beautiful. They were both so happy. They were bonding. 

Fast forward a week and we’re home. For Alex to feed Olivia we needed to work out a few things. I needed to figure out how to pump. We needed bottles! Olivia and Alex had to learn how to use a baby bottle. 

Before you start, there are some things to think about. 

Figure out the timing

There’s always a sweet spot.

Experts say wait until ‘breastfeeding is established’ to get started with bottles. That’s pretty vague! The ‘how-to’ from Fooblie says to wait 2 weeks if you want to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby. Other experts say wait until 4 weeks. This was day 5 and we wanted to involve dad! Should we follow the rules? Or figure out what worked for us? 

We did what worked for us. 

Why does timing matter? If you’re trying to do both a bottle and breastfeeding, you have to be careful because there is something called nipple confusion. This just means a breastfed baby might start to prefer a fake nipple of a bottle to the real nipple of mom. For example, if your baby has a lazy latch, it can be easier for them to get milk from a bottle because it usually flows out faster.

Does nipple confusion really happen? I tried to track down the data, and there’s a hot debate in the medical community. It’s hard to find a clear answer. What is especially confusing is that pacifier use for soothing is lumped together with bottle use. The conclusion? One meta-analysis (a study summarizing other studies) found nipple confusion does exist for bottle fed babies, but it’s hard to know if the reason is the bottle or another factor.

That’s why we wanted doc-approval. At our 1 week appointment, Liv had regained her birth weight and then some. We got the bottle OK. 

You need a milk plan

It’s personal. Choose what’s best for your fam. We did breastmilk.

Be consistent

We aimed for 1 bottle a day. If I remember correctly from the haze of having a newborn, we attempted to start with bottles for one of the middle of the night feeds. Ha! That was complicated! I’m sure if we stuck to it it would have worked eventually. Bottom line: we did 1 bottle every 24 hours. Finding a consistent time in the early weeks just wasn’t going to happen for us. 

Find the best bottle

What is the best bottle? It’s.. nope! This is another trick question. It really depends on you and your baby. Between free samples, some gifts and a bottle sample pack Alex and Olivia had about 8 to try. 

This is the list of what we tried (that we can remember): 

We ended up with two types: Comotomo and Avent (the glass one). Both companies sell gift packs so you can save some money.

More about how Alex and Olivia found the best baby bottles

The decision really came down to what Olivia liked. It was crazy how she preferred some over others.

Each day they tried a different bottle. It was clear that there were ones she hated and we immediately put them in the giveaway pile. For this reason, you may not want to put any bottles on your registry (or do it after you have time to test em out).

From there, some factors that mattered to Alex were:

Material

Silicone, plastic, glass: all are options. We wanted to have options in glass.

Color / Style / Aesthetic

Yes! Alex is a stylish guy and wanted something subtle. Some bottles, like Nuk, have lots of fun patterns! We went for plain.

Your situation

Some bottles tout themselves as great for going back and forth between the bottle and breast, or good for reflux. We didn’t need anything special. 

Price

Some bottles are more expensive. That matters because you’re going to need more than one. How many? Well that depends how often you want to wash bottles. We have 6 right now so we can have them ready to go in the fridge and have some dirty.

The Comotomo was a standout from the start, but they are expensive. I put it on our registry after we knew we liked them and someone gifted us a multipack. Win!

Some other things about baby bottles and accessories

  • While most are dishwasher safe, we opted to hand wash and use a sterilizer. This is the one we have.
  • Eventually you’re going to need a 9 oz bottle, but not until after 4 or 5 months (ish).
  • There are different nipple sizes. Yup! The flow of milk will change as your baby grows. So while you’ll start with size. 0, you’ll need to have the size 1 on hand. You’ll know when your baby gets super frustrated out of nowhere.
  • You don’t really need a bottle warmer. We started with putting the bag in a mug of warm water. 
  • We ended up getting a bottle warmer. You can heat it in advance and keep it at the right temperature for an hour and that is nice. I chose this one because it fits both our bottles and can be used for baby food down the road.
  • We love our Baby Brew to heat the bottle on the go!
  • Need some more help? Here’s an easy guide to starting a bottle. Remember, it might take a few tries!

Bottomline? Feeding is special!

Dad, get the gear you need and don’t miss out.