Nipple Confusion Signs

“Nipple confusion how to fix” In this article, you will learn about nipple confusion signs and how to fix them. By nature, babies know how to nurse from their mother’s breast from birth. Most babies don’t have trouble switching from the breast to a bottle, and back to the breast. If we introduce a pacifier or a bottle for the first few weeks after birth, before the breastfeeding is well established, babies will be confused and develop a preference for a bottle instead as they get used to the bottle nipple and fast-flowing milk.

According to the experts, breastfeeding is an instinctive process. Babies won’t prefer a bottle to a breast unless they have a problem getting milk from the breast. Breastfeeding is a learned behavior, introducing a pacifier or bottle too early will make the transition of nursing from a bottle to the mother’s breast harder to achieve for some babies. This is known as nipple confusion.

Nipple confusion

Nursing from a mother’s breast is different from being fed with a bottle. Breastfeeding requires babies to latch on the breast properly and deeply to suck and swallow. It requires the usage of at least 40 muscles in the infant’s face to draw out breastmilk but a bottle-fed baby will not need to create suction as the milk flows continuously because of gravity. Once they have established the bottle preference and get used to fast-flowing milk, babies will get confused once they were switched back to the breast and there is a noticeable difference in the flow of milk and the skill needed to be able to draw the milk.

Some babies will get back and forth from breast to bottle, back to the breast easily but some babies find it hard during this transition. In this case, with patience and practice, the use of pacifiers and bottles should be delayed, at least until breastfeeding is properly established for the first few weeks after birth. If the babies are nursing well, the use of pacifiers and bottles can be given occasionally. It is ok occasional sucking on a pacifier when you are not around to nurse or soothe him down. If they are nursing well, and getting enough milk from the breast, they won’t lose interest in nursing.

If you have a problem with breastfeeding, always ask for help. There are lactation consultants and experienced midwives/confinement ladies who can help you establish breastfeeding skills. You will be advised to express your milk and give it to your baby in a bottle, for the time being. Remember, babies instinctively prefer your breast, not a bottle. With patience and practice, you will be able to get your baby to latch on the breast again. Try not to breastfeed your baby when he is hungry. Offer your breast when he is calmed, more skin-to-skin contact will help to establish breastfeeding too.

The use of a nipple shield can be a better option, to lure the baby back to the breast. Always start with a slow-flow teat, if you need to feed him with a bottle, so that he will adapt to the slow-flowing milk. Give yourself and your baby time to learn this breastfeeding skill and it gets better after multiple practices.

nipple confusion signs

5 Nipple confusion signs

Nipple confusion is often seen in breastfed babies who are facing difficulties in latching back on breast after being fed by a bottle. Here are some common signs:

  • Baby does not open his mouth wide enough and only sucks on the tip of the nipple, causing mother’s nipple sore.
  • Baby thrust his tongue up when he is sucking, which can push the nipple out of his mouth.
  • Baby get irritated and fussy, because the milk flow is not as easy as with a bottle.
  • Mother’s milk supply decrease as baby refuses to latch on properly. Less stimulation, therefore, milk supply drops.
  • Refuse to latch on to the breast completely as baby has established a preference for a bottle, due to immediacy and fast milk flow.

How do you know your baby is not getting enough milk? If he refuses to nurse, your baby has a poor weight gain, or you constantly have nipples sore, that are the signs when your baby is not feeding well. You need to identify the causes. Can it be your baby is not latching properly? or your baby is having a tongue-tie issue? Do not face it alone, seek help from an experienced lactation consultant or midwife for advice.

How to prevent nipple confusion?

For parents who want to give a bottle to their baby, for some reasons like a return to work or other health reasons that separate the mother from the baby, it is best to introduce a bottle at a much later date. It will take time to establish breastfeeding- the mother has a consistent milk supply, and the baby is nursing well and gaining weight. Usually, it is best to introduce a bottle after 6 weeks. However, depending on the situation, if your baby is showing signs of bottle preference, here are some tips to help you lure your baby back to the breast:

  1. Keep breastfeeding, a nipple shield can be very useful to lure your baby back to the breast.
  2. Breastfeed your baby when he is not hungry. Go with skin-to-skin contact while breastfeeding. It will help to establish the bonding again.
  3. Change the bottle teat to a slow-flowing teat.
  4. Keep your baby close to you, uncovered breast during the night or even the days with a sling.
  5. Stimulate your milk supply by pumping the milk for a few minutes before you breastfeed. This way, your baby will not wait for too long before the milk starts kicking in.
  6. Constantly breastfeed your baby on demand to keep up your milk supply.
  7. Limit the use of a bottle, and keep breastfeeding.

What if my baby refuses the bottle altogether?

Another type of nipple confusion is when your baby refuses to accept a bottle. In this situation, offer the bottle when you are not around. Ask your husband or nanny to help you. Some babies will not accept a bottle from the mother but will accept a bottle from their father or nanny.

Another way is to keep the bottle-feeding session playful, joyous, and low-stress. Stop whenever your baby seems stressed. A lot of eye contact and cuddling will help too.

You may experiment with it with different teats. See which one that interests him. Continue to let him taste the milk from the bottle, once he got the idea that it is also another form of nourishment, he will soon accept it.

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