Different Positions For Breastfeeding & Bottle Feeding
They each have their perks!
The ‘round-the-clock nature of feeding time can feel exhausting, but consider it a special opportunity to bond with your baby. Looking them in the eyes and speaking softly to them while giving them nourishment helps give your little one a sense of security, comfort, and trust. Most importantly, be sure you’re in a comfortable position—you’re going to be spending a lot of time in it. Whether you’re bottle feeding or breastfeeding your infant, you have a few options, each with its own benefits. Read on to learn different ways to hold your baby when you feed them, and how to switch between breastfeeding and bottle feeding if you so choose.
How Do You Control Breastfeeding & Bottle Feeding?
Before we get into breastfeeding positions and bottle feeding positions, let’s go over some best practices. Firstly, try not to wait until your baby is really hungry to feed them. If you do, they may swallow too quickly and gulp air, leading to a gassy belly.
Likewise, don’t force-feed your child, as it can cause them to become uncomfortably full and/or spit up (although we should note that it’s perfectly normal for them to spit up sometimes, especially newborns). Instead, feed them a small amount: one to two ounces every three or four hours in their first month, if they’re bottle fed, and six to eight ounces every four hours or so by the time they’re six months old. And don’t worry if they eat more or less than usual sometimes—their appetite can fluctuate just like yours does. They will generally know how much food they need and when they’re full.
For both breastfeeding and bottle feeding, cuddle your baby close to your body, ideally while making skin-to-skin contact. This not only helps with bonding, it helps steady their breathing and keep them warm and calm. If you breastfeed, it also helps promote milk production. (Be sure to pump your breasts frequently—around eight times each day, including once at night—which will help stimulate more milk.)
Burp your infant frequently while feeding them, since, try as you may, they’re bound to swallow some air as they eat. Breastfed babies should be burped when you switch breasts, whereas bottle fed babies need a good burping after each ounce or two of milk or formula. And make sure to burp them when they’re done eating. If you have any trouble, or your little one’s belly seems swollen and gassy, reach for Infants’ Mylicon Gas Relief Drops in dye-free or the original formula. They’ll quickly break up gas bubbles to help your baby naturally burp or toot them out. And they aren’t absorbed, so they won’t stay in their system.
Now that you know the basics, let’s get into the different breastfeeding positions and bottle feeding positions you can choose from.
What Is The Most Comfortable Position For Breastfeeding?
You may have wondered what positions are good for breastfeeding. But there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s ultimately a matter of preference. However, we’ll discuss the five most common: side-laying breastfeeding, cradle hold breastfeeding, cross-cradle nursing, the football hold, and laid back nursing (a.k.a. breastfeeding lying down).
Side-laying breastfeeding position: To get ultra comfortable, lie on your side with a few pillows under your head and behind your back. Then, place your baby on their side facing you and hold them close. You can lift your breast to their mouth to help them latch on. The best part of this position is that you don’t have to move to switch breasts if you don’t want to. Just place a pillow under your little one to raise them to the necessary height.
Cradle hold breastfeeding position: This one you may be familiar with, as it’s the traditional position. Pick up your infant, then place their head in the crook of your arm to support it. Use your forearm to support the rest of their body, and cup their bottom or upper thigh for support. Rotate your arm so they’re facing you, with their chest against your chest, and bring their mouth to your nipple. Be sure the rest of their body is aligned with their head to make swallowing easier.
Cross-cradle breastfeeding position: The reverse of a cradle hold, this position is helpful if your baby has trouble latching onto your nipple. For the cross-cradle, place your baby in the arm that’s opposite the breast you’re using. Support their neck and upper back with your hand, and rest their little tooshie on the inside of your other arm or on a pillow. Since you're holding their neck and upper back in your hand, it can be easier to get their mouth in the right position. Just make sure that their head and body are aligned.
Football hold breastfeeding position: Many women consider this position to be the easiest to maintain, especially if you’ve had a cesarean, since it keeps pressure off your abdominal incision. It can also be great for feeding twins, as you can feed them simultaneously with one on each side. Same if your baby is a preemie or if you have large breasts or flat nipples, because you’ll be able to see your nipple in their mouth and control their head easier.
To get in the football hold, place them on your side, front to back, under your arm, with their head, neck, and upper back in your hand. Use your forearm to support the rest of their body, and lift them to your breast. You can then place a pillow under your arm so it won’t get tired. Game on!
Laid back breastfeeding position: As the name suggests, this comfy position is laid back. It’s especially helpful if your breasts release milk frequently, otherwise known as an overactive let-down reflex, or have an abundance of milk. Simply sit or lie semi-reclined with your little one laying tummy-to-tummy on top of you. Support them with your arms and position their mouth over your breast.
What Is The Best Bottle Feeding Position?
Knowing what angle you should hold a baby bottle in is important to limit the amount of air they swallow. Make yourself comfortable—you can use a few pillows to help—and support their head and neck in the crook of your arm and the rest of their body with your forearm. Make sure that their head is raised slightly above their body so that the milk or formula doesn’t accumulate in their throat. Slightly tilt the bottle and let its contents fill the nipple. This helps prevent them from swallowing too much air. Use the nipple to tickle their lips, encouraging them to eat, until they part them and latch on. Be sure their tongue is below the nipple and that they form a tight seal. Hold the bottle at a slight angle.
It’s important to note to never prop the bottle up for your baby to drink from. This will deny them of that precious cuddle time and can be a choking hazard. Also, if your baby is older, resist the urge to put them to bed with a bottle, which can cause early tooth decay. Use a pacifier instead if they need something to suck on to lull them to sleep.
Can You Breastfeed & Bottle Feed a Baby at The Same Time?
For the best of both worlds, you may want to alternate between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. If you want to know how to bottle feed a breastfed baby or breastfeed a bottle fed infant, we’ve got you covered. Although we should note that there’s some evidence that trying to get a bottle fed baby to breastfeed can be a challenge, since they learn to suck a different way on a bottle’s nipple as opposed to yours, you’re still free to give it a shot using the above positions.
It can be helpful to know that your breast milk shouldn’t be affected if you switch to a bottle, as long as you continue to breastfeed or pump at some point every day. Of course, if you want to switch entirely from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, do it gradually to reduce the chance of your breasts becoming swollen or uncomfortable, or even becoming inflamed or infected.
Allow for a few weeks of adjustment time before transitioning solely to a bottle. Give your infant their first few bottles when they’re happy and relaxed so they learn to associate it with positive feelings. You may also want to have someone else feed them with a bottle for the first time; otherwise, they may smell your breast milk and want that instead. When they’re around six months old, congratulations! You can try transitioning your little one to a sippy cup.
Next: Learn how to promote healthy digestion and boost your baby’s immunity in the process with Why Babies Benefit From Probiotics. (Bonus: Infants’ Mylicon Daily Probiotic Drops can reduce crying and fussiness associated with colic by at least 50%!)