Bonding through Bottle-Feeding: Three Secrets to Bottle Feeding with Intention

IMG_7977Before I was a mother, I worked with a wide range of children in the early childhood years, including infants. One my favorite memories of being with the babies was giving bottles. There were some co-workers that saw this merely as a time-consuming task but I always happily volunteered for this privilege. It was so lovely that I got to share something so special with this tiny person; someone so trusting and willing to receive my gift of nourishment.

I hear so many negative things about how you miss out on bonding unless you breast feed your baby. What a terrible thing to hear if bottle feeding is your only option, or even if its your choice. Feeding (breast milk, formula and later solids) will always be a great place for bonding if you have the right attitude about it. I breast fed for one year and it was amazing for me and we were lucky that our son loved taking a bottle from other people on the occasions that it was needed (he even took a bottle from me a few times!). Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years from my work in child care, from Magda Gerber’s RIE method and from my own mothering.

1. Hold baby close to your heart, facing you. When they face away or are fed in a seat, they miss out on the connection. When you can hold them and gaze into their eyes during the feeding, they will experience the love you have for them and bonding will begin.

2. Talk to your baby about the process. “I’m going to give you a bottle now, is that okay? Mmm, is that nice to have some warm milk in your belly?” Even if they are newborns they will still understand the positive intention and feel the respect you are giving by including them in the process.

3. Be present during the feeding. Look into baby’s eyes and stroke their hands and hair. Pay attention to how they respond to the bottle and see if they are giving you any cues. Really feel the gratitude that you are here with them in this quiet moment, for it will pass sooner than you know. Your baby will feel your love and gratitude.

This is not just information for new moms, but its useful for dads, grandmas, caregivers and anyone else lucky enough to share in the feeding of a new baby. I am SO lucky that soon my best friend will have another baby that I’ll help care for and I can’t wait to share in the nourishment of that precious new life, even if it is only (NOT ONLY) from a bottle. The milk may not be coming from your breast, but the intention can still come from your heart.

Here are a few more links on bonding through bottle-feeding.

Bottle Feeding Baby with Love: Four Tips to Bond with the Bottle

Boosting Bottle-Feeding Bonding: 5 Top Tips

Bonding on Bottles

10 Things to Know about Bottle Feeding

I am not expert when it comes to everything that goes into strictly bottle feeding a newborn but am great at finding information if you have questions.

(Side note: The above is a picture of my newborn nephew, can you see how in love I am!)

Just Say YES! How using this one word will improve your parenting.

IMG_3924Your toddler comes up to you with a handful of used tissues from the trash, how do you react? This innocent act by your child can either be met with shock and disapproval or seen for its goodness and met with playfulness and positivity. “Oh! You brought some trash! Let’s put that in the bin together. Thank you.” Most likely your child will meet your enthusiasm and be happy to help you. Now, your next act is to put that open trash can where your little explorer can not get it again.

Using a popular improv technique called “yes and” will get you very, very far with your children. We actually worked with this in improv classes when I was in teacher training. It’s a very powerful tool for connecting and moving along with your children…adults too!

(simplified) RULES OF YES AND…

1) Say “yes’and!”

2) Add new information.

3) Don’t block.

Here’s a picture. Your child is living in point a and you want him to get to point b: your objective. It will be frustrating and end up a battle if you shift suddenly to what you want without acknowledging the place they are living in: the moment!

First you acknowledge where they are and add on: “look at all of these block towers you’ve made in your room! You have been very hard at work!”

Next you can start the transition to your point: “hmm, we are going to the grocery store soon, what should we do with these towers while we are gone?” your child may or may not know this answer but giving the choice will be important to them.

Now finally you get to point B: “yes, we should leave them for you to play with when you get back” or “yes, let’s clean them up together and just pick our favorite to show daddy later.” Most likely small children will now  come along with you. It’s not that we are ‘tricking’ them to do your will, it’s allowing them to feel ‘seen’ and acknowledged.

Practicing the technique of yes and will grow on you if you start now and will only help you in the future. This will help build a relationship with your children where they feel that their activities and opinions are respected as much as your own. You have an important agenda and  you are willing to work with them to meet theirs as well.

And who knows, if you get in this practice with your children you may find it seeping into your adult life with your partner, family and peer which will only be for the better.

I would love to hear your stories of using yes and. For some this is easy and for others this is a challenge. What are your experiences with this magic word?