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!)


3 thoughts on “Bonding through Bottle-Feeding: Three Secrets to Bottle Feeding with Intention”

  1. What a great post! I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would end up bottle feeding my second baby, but about two months ago when she became 6 months we made the heartbreaking decision to give her formula full time, for many reasons, some of which I’ve outlined on my blog and many of which are too lengthy for a comment here :) One of the things I was most afraid about was bottle feeding in public, and having people look at me and make judgements about me and why I wasn’t breastfeeding. Getting a few tears even typing this comment. I actually did believe to some extent that I was missing out on bonding with my baby, mainly due to the obvious – not breastfeeding, but also due to the fact that it is so easy to be “replaced” by anyone else who can just as easily feed her, which was so completely opposite to my first baby who I breastfed for 15 months. This post is a beautiful reminder of all the things we can do with a loving intention, and the many ways in which we can bond with our children. Thank you! xx

  2. Loved your article!.
    My first baby latched on my first try but I ended up bottle-feeding her as she has a nipple confusion and I was miserable having episiotomy + tear on the other side which means stitches everywhere, UTI and huge painful bleeding hemorrhoids and no support for breastfeeding.
    My second baby I was fully prepared and asked for my baby the moment I came out of my c-section but this time my baby never sucked! even if latched either looking at me or falling asleep. Tried every feeding with full support from the hospital staff with no results. I started pumping on my 3rd day post delivery. I ended up having mastitis. Now it became difficult for her to latch on flats nipples of swollen breasts. I used the nipple shield and it worked but she never continues on sucking and never empties them. On the 5th day it was a hell to continue on mastitis and sore nipples or even pumping. So I bought formula and that was such a relief I can’t forget that moment how we both were relaxed and looking into each others eyes happily. I continued pumping and trying for 6 weeks but it just didn’t work.
    Guess what! with both my of my babies I had these uterus contractions on bottle-feeding too! and with my 2nd baby my breasts leak on bottle feeding!. Oxytocin just works both ways for me =). No matter how you feed, all it matters is that you feed with love!.

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