returning to work- ped says start bottle at 3 wks, LC says 10 — The Bump

returning to work- ped says start bottle at 3 wks, LC says 10

I will be returning to work at 12 weeks and I asked the pediatrician at our first visit about what I should do to prepare. She said I should introduce the bottle of pumped BM at 3 weeks and give one bottle per day because LO is more likely to accept it at that age. She warned against waiting till right before I'm about to return to work to introduce the bottle. She said babies are more opinionated at that age and LO is more likely to flat-out refuse it and that she's seen many parents go that route and then panic. I thought three weeks was pretty early, but I've since read a couple other sources, like What to Expect in the First Year, that said the same thing so I guess it's not totally out there.

I asked the LC today and she said no way, that three weeks is the absolute earliest that a bottle should be introduced and she doesn't recommend it. She said that the official AAP recommendation is to wait til breastfeeding is 'well-established', and she says that means at least 8 weeks. She doesn't think the possibility of LO refusing a bottle later on will be an issue. I really like this LC and trust her opinion, so now I'm torn.

I was initially freaked out by the idea of introducing a bottle at 3 weeks because it does seem early, but I'd gotten used to it and started to get excited about the possibility of being able to leave LO with my parents and have a few hours out of the house with my husband. But I am reluctant to do anything that's going to mess up our BFing routine this soon... I've been really lucky and had almost no issues, and LO is gaining like a champ, and I'd hate to mess with a good thing.

Does anyone have an advice, or any success stories or cautionary tales about starting a bottle early on? TIA.

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Re: returning to work- ped says start bottle at 3 wks, LC says 10

  • niknak7niknak7
    Sixth Anniversary

    I have been on both sides of the issue. DD started getting bottles at 4 weeks and had a major preference for bottles that I fought until stopping BFing at 10 months. She got 2 bottles a day due to meds. DS got his first bottle at 4 weeks and we have been giving him 2-3 bottles a week. We went a whole week without a bottle and he basically wouldn't take it for an hour and it is more of a struggle now.

    So my best advice from what I have experienced would be to give a bottle every other day starting around 4 weeks. Every baby is different and some just prefer BFing and some just prefer bottles. And there really isn't any way to tell which your baby will be until it's too late. So find the middle ground.

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  • ebp913ebp913
    2500 Comments 250 Answers Fourth Anniversary 250 Love Its
    We introduced one at 4 weeks and did one about every week until daycare started.  No problems with the bottle or breastfeeding.  I feel like most people do it around 3-4 weeks.  I'm not sure that I think you need to give a bottle everyday.  I would probably do 3-4 a week until daycare assuming you aren't having issues with bottles or nursing. 
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  • my LC said bottle at 4 weeks. LO had no problem.
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  • llizzybllizzyb
    Sixth Anniversary

    We started bottles at day 3 or 4 bc we had latch issues that were killing my nipples. I cried and cried, thinking I'd ruined LO and breastfeeding.

    DS goes btwn bottle and breast like a champ! Not true of every baby, I know, but no problems here. He now gets bottled BM a couple of times a week. It's been great bc I was able to leave him with grandma from fairly early on with the assurance he was getting good nutrition in my absence.

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  • We did it between 3 and 4, giving a bottle only once or twice a week. We had no problems either. 
  • I was in your situation as well.

    My pediatrician says that this:"She said that the official AAP recommendation is to wait til breastfeeding is 'well-established', and she says that means at least 8 weeks." is BS

    I have been giving my LO a bottle once or more a day and he is still breast feeding fine.

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  • My DS had his first bottle before we were discharged from the hospital (long story, and not my choice, but it is what it is) and never had issues switching between bottle and breast.  I know that experience is not entirely the norm, though.  My LC, who has become a good friend, recommends introducing a bottle between 2-4 weeks, but not doing a bottle every day unless you have to.  So maybe around 3w, give one bottle of pumped milk to let your H feed the baby, then a few days or a week later, leave a pumped bottle so you can go out to to dinner alone with your husband.  I wouldn't do daily bottles until much closer to the time you're going back to work, though.
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  • TwirpleTwirple
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 250 Answers 500 Love Its

    I gave DS his first bottle at 2 weeks because we were having latching issues which meant he went 14 hours without feeding.  I kept trying, but he would not latch.  I was in tears, DS was in tears and DH was trying to calm us both down.  Our LC recommended giving him milk with an eyedropper.  When we tried, DS choked and spit it out.  I finally broke down and gave him a bottle, just enough to take the edge off his hunger and calm him down.  Once he was calm, he latched just fine.  I told our LC what I had done and she thought I had ruined him.

    I started back at work at 8 weeks, so DH started giving DS bottles once a day starting at 6 weeks.

    DS is still nursing now at 13 months. 

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  • If I waited until 8 weeks to introduce a bottle I would be screwed because that's when I am going back to work.  DS got a small amount of formula in the hospital because he didn't urinate for 24 hrs.  He has also had a few bottles at home since to supplement per my LC's instructions of pumped BM and formula.  We haven't had any issues with BF'ing because of it.  I am just happy he will take a bottle because I would be freaking out if he didn't knowing I have to go back to work in about 4 weeks.

    My DS was fine and actually my LC isn't sure there is a lot of truth in "nipple confusion".  That's what she told me anyway so I went with it.

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  • My DS got his first bottle at 4 days old.  I was so sleep deprived and I just needed a little break.  He has had no problem going back and forth between breast and bottle.  I went back to work at 7 weeks so there is no way we could have waited til 8 weeks.
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  • There's an official AAP  stance on anything breastfeeding beyond that you should do it exclusively x6mo then "until 1 yr or mutually desired?"  I've never seen anything of that nature..... 
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  • DS is a bottle hater and it was a complete nightmare when I went back to work at 12 weeks. He would go 9 hours without eating unless I could go feed him at lunch. I had to start back part time until he started taking some because I couldn't let him go that long without eating. Luckily my boss worked with me or I would have had to choose between my job and my baby gaining weight. He also started reverse cycling. He is starting to do better but it has taken considerable effort. I would say start the bottle now. Have everyone you know give it to him including you. He will still prefer warm, soft mommy over a plastic bottle. If you give him pumped milk just make sure you pump the exact same amount he eats right after to keep your supply safe.

  • drpaynedrpayne
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Photogenic
    4 weeks here, also. Then we just gave him one every few days to make sure he'd still take it. 
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  • With our son, we introduced a bottle at 3ish weeks. I had other people give him the bottle so that he didn't associate the bottle with me (this was the advice of an LC). We never had any issues with him taking a bottle and he BFed until a little over a year.

    I think the main thing is that there aren't any issues with BFing when you introduce a bottle and to be sure to stick with the low flow nipples or ones meant for BFing babies. 


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  • sosophsosoph
    2500 Comments 250 Answers Third Anniversary 25 Love Its

    I went back to work at 6 weeks, started pumping at 3 to get my body used to producing for the pump and gave a bottle a week for weeks 3, 4, 5. I left the house each time. We had no issues. You do what you have to do, and YOU are the one with your baby every day. When you feel ready, start with the occasional pump (it may be very little output at first and take a few sessions just to be able to offer one bottle).


  • DS got a bottle at 5 weeks, one again at 6 weeks, and then nothing until I went back to work at 12 weeks.  He didn't have any trouble accepting the bottle.  If it is something that concerns you, I would wait a few more weeks until the 6 week growth spurt (like AmyG said) and then introduce it.
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  • We waited too long with DS1, not offering a bottle until 7 or 8 weeks.  He fought bottles hard, and just tolerated them the entire time he was in daycare.

    We introduced one around 5 weeks with DS2 and it went much more smoothly.  He takes a bottle without any problems.

  • My LC recommended offering DS a bottle of 1 ounce of breastmilk 1 hour after he'd been nursed at 4 weeks, 2-3 times a week.  That's what we did and DS hasn't had any issues.
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