Before 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.
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!)