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You may have heard the term nipple confusion before but are unsure what it means. It is basically a situation where you are breastfeeding your baby, and you introduce another teat in the form of a feeding bottle or a dummy to suck on. The introduction of these new teats may lead to your baby finding it difficult to return to your breast for feeding.
Baby feeding bottles tend to have rigid teats and they also provide a constant supply of milk. This means that your baby does not have to put in much effort to obtain the milk that they need.
When you are breastfeeding your baby will need to open their mouth wide in order to latch on. To get the milk that they need your baby will need to use around forty facial muscles on a consistent basis so that they can obtain the right amount of milk.
Nipple confusion is not the only reason that your baby can find it hard to latch on to your breast. They just might find it difficult to do. Whatever the reason for your baby’s problem with latching there is no need for you to panic.
If your baby tries to suck milk from your nipple in the same way that they do from a bottle then this can cause nipple confusion. There can be other problems too such as your baby thrusting their tongue upward which will push your nipple out of their mouth.
With a baby milk bottle the going is easy and your baby does not have to open their mouth very wide. If they are doing this while trying to latch on to your breast then they will fail. Just sucking the tip of your nipple will not provide enough milk and can make your nipples sore.
With breast feeding your baby has to be patient to get the breast milk to flow. It can take a couple of minutes to trigger the milk ejection reflex and make the milk flow. This is not a problem with baby bottle nipples because the milk is instantaneous.
There are different schools of thought on this. It is true to say that with baby bottles there is less effort required on the part of your baby and that the milk will flow immediately. However there have been numerous studies conducted which prove that breastfeeding is actually less stressful.
The heart rate and breathing of babies tends to be more stable when babies are breastfed. Also with breastfeeding babies have more control over the flow of milk and establish regular rhythms of swallowing, sucking and pausing. Also the studies showed that breastfeeding does not require as much energy as bottles for babies.
No they won’t. In fact most babies will not have a problem switching between bottle teats and a breast feed and vice versa. There will be some however that will find the transition from breast sucking to a bottle nipple difficult. This is often the case if your baby found breastfeeding difficult in the first place and took a while to latch on.
Look we get it. You do not want a confused baby but at the same time you could really do with a break from breastfeeding. But you are worried what you have heard about nipple confusion, and start to believe that if you introduce baby bottle teats then your baby will never want to return to your breast. Don’t worry, just follow the advice below.
The first thing to do is to establish whether your baby has nipple confusion or whether other breastfeeding problems exist. If your baby’s mouth is near your breast and they move their head back and forth this means that they can’t find your nipple. They have been used to a longer and firmer bottle nipple. This is nipple confusion and it will frustrate you and your baby.
If this happens then snuggle your baby skin to skin. This is very natural for your baby and will calm them down. Then make a ledge of your breast tissue to help with baby latching. Your baby will feel your nipple with their tongue when you do this. If you need further help then try using a nipple or breast shield to encourage your baby back to your breast.
Avoid using artificial nipples in the first 3-6 weeks of your baby’s life. This should be enough time for your baby to really master the art of breast feeding and make nipple confusion less likely to occur.
Use slow flow bottle nipples to avoid nipple confusion. If the milk flow through the bottle nipple is too fast then your baby can get used to this, and then get frustrated with the slow flowing breast milk.
Now you know what nipple confusion is and how to avoid it you can concentrate on other baby care areas. We publish great baby advice on this website regularly so be ahead of the curve by subscribing to our free Baby Now VIP Club so you don’t miss a thing.