A common reason why breastfed babies receive a bottle too soon is to give your significant other a chance to be more involved. The recommended time frame to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby is between 4-6 weeks of age. The good news is there are other ways to involve significant others them in the feeding experience that does not involve giving the baby a bottle before the recommended time frame.
1) Your significant other can help watch for feeding cues. As discussed in the previous blog post Tips to Ease your First Few Weeks of Breastfeeding, some signs that your baby is hungry includes rooting, putting their hands to their mouth, or smacking their lips. Keeping another eye and ear on the baby can help to catch those early signs to avoid getting to the late sign of hunger, which is crying.
2) When hunger cues are first noticed it is best to change the baby’s diaper before the feeding begins. In the early weeks newborns tend to be sleepier even during feedings so this is a good way to wake the baby up to prepare them for breastfeeding. Also, if the baby falls asleep at the breast when they are finished feeding, you may be able to lay them down right away since they might still have a clean diaper. Your significant other can help by changing the baby’s diaper while you get set up to breastfeed. They can then hand the baby to you when you are ready.
3) When the baby is finished eating, this may be a good time for your significant other to burp the baby. This also gives you a chance to get yourself dressed again. Not all breastfed babies will burp after a feeding but it is still a good idea to try.
4) In between feedings your significant other may also want to do skin to skin with the baby. This not only supports bonding but when used during the newborn period it helps regulate the baby’s body temperature, breathing, and heart rate.
5) Another important role for your significant other is to watch your fluid and nutritional intake. Sometimes moms get so involved with taking care of a newborn and healing their own bodies from childbirth that eating and drinking are no longer their priority. Your significant other can help to make sure you have water with you at all times and are eating frequently throughout the day. It is important for you to maintain your calories and fluid intake as not doing so can affect your milk supply.
6) Lastly, one of the most important roles for your significant other is to support you. They should offer encouragement to you by telling you what a great job you are doing to give your baby the best nutrition possible. The support of your significant other does not just end after childbirth. It should continue throughout the breastfeeding journey.
7) Infants usually feed about every 2 hours, that means there is at least over one hour in between feeds that the baby needs to be rocked, cuddled, skin to skin, and loved; significant others are great at doing all these things. Often babies will calm easier for their dads (or significant others) than their moms because they smell mom’s milk; significant others play a very important role in their baby’s lives!!
Your significant other also needs support and encouragement so make sure you are telling them how helpful they are and what a great job they are doing.