Paced Bottle Feeding

Are you scouring the internet on tips for how to bottle feed a breastfed baby? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Paced bottle feeding is an important technique to use when bottle feeding. You’ve probably heard of “nipple confusion”. I don’t like that term because the problem isn’t the baby preferring the bottle nipple over the breast. It’s usually a “flow” preference. You’ll see here why babies generally prefer the bottle and how pace feeding can help your baby transition easily between breast and bottle.

pace feeding, bottle feeding a breastfed baby

This picture here shows my 5 year old son pace feeding one of my newborn twins. If he can pace feed, so can you! You’ve got this. Keep reading to see how.

Okay, so why is this important? We want to pace feed when bottle feeding because it “paces”/controls the flow for the baby. Your baby will learn to realize when he’s full because his belly isn’t being filled before the signals of satiety occur in the brain.

When we are breastfeeding, milk isn’t just spurting out of our boobs! Your baby has to work for it. So we want to do the same with bottle feeding. With pace feeding, your baby is going to eat more slowly and work harder for the milk, just as he would if he were breastfeeding.

This picture below shows how you’d typically see a baby being bottle fed:

baby bottle feeding breastmilk

You can see that gravity is doing all of the work and the baby doesn’t have to do anything.  The baby is not working at all to get the liquid out, it’s instant gratification, and the bottle goes super quickly.

The baby can’t recognize satiety signals that quickly; they don’t have to work for it so they can get both overfed and used to a significantly faster feed/flow.


1. Baby is sitting more upright

You can place baby on a pillow or your lap. You can lean against a chair and place baby facing you on your knees.

However you are comfortable feeding, go with that, the most important thing is that baby is sitting more upright.

If baby is a newborn and doesn’t have good head/neck control yet, you can support their head and neck just as you would if you were nursing them with your thumb and index finger at the base of their skull .

2. Tickle baby’s lips with the bottle nipple (just like you’d do with your nipple) so they open wide

Tickle just above the upper lip, just like you’d do with your nipple when breastfeeding, so they open wide.

Tickling their upper lip stimulates the rooting reflex and the baby will open their mouth up wide for the bottle. We do NOT want to shove the bottle nipple in their mouth EVER.

3. Have baby latch on

Just like baby would latch onto your breast, have them latch on to the bottle. Make sure lips are flanged out, there are no clicking noises, and they are actively trying to extract the milk.

4. Hold the bottle horizontal

Holding the bottle horizontal like this will slow the flow down so gravity is not doing the work.

Just a little milk should be in the bottle nipple tip (it should not be filler with milk). This makes it so baby has to work more to get the milk out.

5. Pause for a few moments

After pausing, then let baby draw the bottle back into their mouth and start the process again. You can pause just by tipping the bottle down and still keeping it in the baby’s mouth (there just isn’t milk in the bottle nipple). Or if that is upsetting the baby, just take it totally out of the baby’s mouth for about 30 seconds).

6. Repeat these pauses

Repeat these little pauses of tipping the bottle down throughout the feeding until baby is done. A feeding should last just like a nursing session, about 10-20 minutes depending on baby’s age.

A few more tips:

You can switch sides in the middle of a feeding too, just as you would if you were nursing. You can burp the baby before switching sides, then start the process again on the other side.

Keep a close eye on your baby to recognize when they are full so you can end the feeding. The bottle doesn’t need to be totally finished. Just like when you’re breastfeeding, the baby signals when they are done, the same should be true with bottle feeding!

I hope this helps! Again, you may be using a bottle for many reasons, and it can be stressful thinking your baby may prefer the bottle over your breast. But what they prefer is that fast flow, so if you don’t give it to them, you won’t be competing with the bottle. In my next post, I talk about the best bottles for breastfed babies, so check it out here. You’ve got this!

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