breastfeeding nipple confusionNipple confusion occurs when baby is introduced to bottle feeding before he masters breastfeeding. There is nothing wrong with bottle feeding breast milk, but breastfeeding is much more difficult than bottle feeding – something infants quickly learn. It is best to give baby some time to master suckling from the breast before offering the simpler feeding method.

The Art of Breastfeeding

When baby pulls the breast into his mouth, several things must happen simultaneously for a successful feeding. The nipple must rest far back in baby’s mouth while the tongue pushes the breast tissue to the roof of the mouth. The baby’s gums press against just the right spot of the breasts to stimulate milk release and the tongue, partnered with the natural sucking action of the mouth, pulls milk flawlessly from the breast.

The Art of Bottle Feeding

Bottle feeding is not quite as artistic as breastfeeding. The bottle nipple sits in the front of the mouth and gravity, partnered with light lip sucking, pulls milk from the bottle. Bottle feeding is much easier than breastfeeding and that can cause serious issues if bottle feeding is introduced too early.

When to Introduce Bottle Feeding

Many new mothers choose to pump and store breast milk for bottle feeding once in a while. Breastfed babies must feed every two to three hours for the first few months. This leaves little time for mom to leave the house, take a nap or even shower and relax. Bottle feeding is the ideal option because baby is still getting all the nutrition from breast milk, but mom can take a little time for her.

It is best to wait at least three weeks before introducing the bottle. If your baby has not managed to master breastfeeding in that time, wait longer. While nipple confusion can be corrected, it is much easier to prevent it from ever happening.

Do All Babies Experience Nipple Confusion?

Not all babies have issues with nipple confusion, but some never feel comfortable switching from breast to bottle and back again. Many new mothers find they feel like giving up on breastfeeding too soon because nipple confusion has left baby not wanting to take the breast, but patience is a much better option. Babies can readjust to the breast with time and breastfeeding provides skin to skin contact baby needs for optimal growth.

Nipple confusion is one of the most difficult problems in breastfeeding. Mom just wants a little alone time and baby just wants to be fed. It seems like a simple answer to a complex situation, but bottle feeding too early can cause more harm than good if baby is not ready to leave the breast.