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Pace Feeding Your Breastfed Baby to avoid Bottle Preference and Nipple Confusion

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

Sometimes new babies cannot be fed at the breast for one reason or another. Many parents who need to offer supplemental feedings to their infant are concerned about creating a bottle preference. Whether your baby is getting a bottle while you're at work or you are pumping and bottle feeding as part of your lactation care plan, you'll hear me and other lactation consultants recommending "paced feeding".

If you are planning to use a bottle for you baby, learn more about paced bottle feeding for breastfed babies by reading this article!

What is paced bottle feeding?

What are the benefits of paced bottle feeding?

How do you pace feed your breastfed baby with a bottle?

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What exactly is paced feeding?

And why pacing bottle feeds matter? Babies who are bottle fed should all be pace fed, regardless if they’re being fed formula or expressed breast milk. Even exclusively bottle fed babies benefit from a baby-led approach. The benefits are important for all babies and this is rarely something taught to parents at all. Breastfed babies, especially, however, need to be pace fed to reduce risk of developing a bottle preference.

Even with the smallest nipple sizes, bottle feeding can mean that milk comes out fast. Babies don’t have to work for the formula or expressed breastmilk. When breastfeeding, babies have to put effort in to initiate a let down. This “work” is what helps to develop the oral function and structure optimally. Simply put, bottle feeding requires less effort on baby’s behalf. So if we don’t mimic breastfeeding utilizing paced feeding, it can be hard for baby to develop the ability to switch back and forth seamlessly from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding. Even for fully bottle fed babies, pacing feeds is important for a variety of reasons: 1. Decreasing over feeding 2.Allowing them to develop more optimal oral function to prepare for speech and feeding development later in life.

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graphic shares five paced bottle feeding benefits including slow flow of milk, self regulation during feeding, reduced air intake reducing colic symptoms, mimicking breastfeeding, reduces risk of bottle preference.

Benefits of Paced Bottle Feeding:

  • Baby controls flow of milk

  • Baby feeds at his own pace

  • Reduces air intake, possibly reducing reflux and colic symptoms

  • Baby has to “work for it”

  • Baby is able to practice self regulation

How to pace feed:

  • Hold baby in upright position

  • Keep bottle mostly parallel to floor to reduce flow

  • Use slow flow nipple

  • Use nipple that encourages a wide breast-like latch if possible

  • Touch nipple to baby’s lips allowing baby to draw the nipple in on his own

  • Let baby stop and start feeding as desired (baby may take a break or pause for many reasons) Remember feeding takes time and is about more than just nourishment. Feeding is a social activity and bonding method that nourishes the body and nurtures the soul. Focus on baby’s needs. Propping baby’s bottle is convenient, but can prove to be a choking hazard.


Have you heard of paced bottle feeding before? Do you use this method? If you found this information helpful, please remember to SHARE with your friends so they can learn too!!







Jaimie Zaki is an Air Force Wife, Mother of Four, Birth & Postpartum Doula, IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant), Author, and Motherhood Photographer. Jaimie supports women through pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.

Jaimie offers virtual pregnancy support, virtual breastfeeding help, and in-person support in Texas. If you need help breastfeeding, book an appointment with Jaimie today at

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