Knowing when to introduce a late night bottle feed and how to do so without developing breastfeeding challenges, is one of the most frequently asked questions I encounter when meeting expectant mums and dads. Creating a breastfeeding or feeding experience that works for the whole family is a lot simpler than many parents expect. Here are some common questions on this topic.

When can I introduce a bottle of expressed milk? Once mum and baby are able to breastfeed without pain, the milk supply has settled down after the early day engorgement and expressing is going well, dads can introduce a late night bottle feed of expressed milk.

Do I need to wait until my baby is a certain age? As mums and babies are all different, the timing of introducing a bottle will be different for each. Some mums are able to introduce a bottle in week two without creating any changes to their breastfeeding patterns and others only introduce a bottle feed into their day around week five. Babies who are older than six weeks tend to be less interested in bottle feeding, so if you are able to introduce a bottle before then, you should be met with little resistance.

Will a bottle feed help my baby sleep longer at night? No always, but it will allow you to crawl into bed early and miss the late night feed, while your partner enjoys some one-to-one time with y our baby. The amount of milk your baby takes in at each feed, is determined by the size of the tummy and as they are so tiny, it is not unusual for babies to need to feed once or twice during the night. As their tummies grow in size, they will be able to take in more milk and sleep for longer periods.

Will my milk supply decrease if I miss the late night feed? If you are substituting a breast feed with a bottle feed, you will need to express before you go to bed. Not only will this help you to create a milk bank for when you want to go out for dinner, to a party or wedding, but it will also ensure that your breasts are drained and that you maintain your milk supply. Later on, you may decide to gradually drop this expressing session, so that you don’t need to express at all. Just be sure to do so carefully of you may develop blockages, engorgement or mastitis.

**Expressing doesn’t drain the breast as well as an efficient feeder will, so if you notice your supply dropping, get in touch with me and I’ll help you rejig this.

If I start doing a bottle feed at 10pm, do I need to continue? Many mums find themselves switching between breast feeds and bottle feeds at the late night feed, especially when their partners are away on business frequently. There is no problem with doing this, but I have found that when babies are not offered a bottle feed frequently, they can refuse to take it after a period of bottle free feeds.

Should I always offer breast milk or is formula better? There is no benefit to introducing formula over breast milk. In order for your baby to sleep well for you at night, a daily calorie quota needs to be met. If your baby is feeding well during the day, there is no reason why night time sleeps will be a problem. Often introducing a formula feed can lead to a more unsettled night, as it is heavier and harder for baby to digest and this can keep them awake instead of helping them to sleep better.

Many breastfeeding mums like to have the flexibility of their baby being able to breastfeed and bottle feed without resistance and this is easily achieved when you know how.

BME-Visual copy 2

Get your copy here

Love the honest, no-nonsense approach of this book. It’s been written in a really down to earth, sometimes funny way and is easy to read. The practical advice is easy to follow with the diagrams and the clearly laid out sections. Beautifully open minded – on routine “If you like routine, follow a routine. If you don’t like structure, don’t bother with routines. Either way is fine.” Also really like her argument that when it comes to breastfeeding there is no one size fits all solution. We are all very different individuals, after all.