Choosing to bottle-feed your bub can be fraught with complex emotions. While fed is 100% always best, as mums we often can’t help but beat ourselves up if our breastfeeding journey doesn’t go to plan. Maybe you had grand plans to feed for the first 12 months of your baby’s life but he had other ideas. Maybe you just wanted to make it to the six-month mark but your supply didn’t play ball.
Often it’s the act of making the decision, the umming and ahhing as to whether or not you should persevere with breastfeeding, that can be more overwhelming than what’s waiting on the other side. But once you arrive at bottle land, for whatever reason that may be, you’ll quickly realise you can bond with your baby just as much!
With both of my girls, my goal was to make it to six months. But as fate would have it, neither of them was particularly fond of the boob and they didn’t get past two months. I can remember crying on the phone to my sister when my second girl had just started to refuse the boob and she was brave enough to give me permission to tell me what I knew I needed to hear: “It’s OK to give her formula. Your mental health comes first,” she gently reassured me after a rough few days trying to push through. And with that, the decision was made and I never looked back. Both of my bottle-fed girls are happy, healthy, and thriving.
If you’re in a similar situation, you might be wondering: “Does bottle-feeding create a bond?” Well, I’m happy to report as someone who joined the bottle gang pretty early on with both of my babies, you can truly form a strong connection with them.
Here are 6 beautiful ways you can bond with your baby if you bottle feed them.
1. Make deep eye contact with them
It sounds so simple, but gazing into your baby’s eyes can be such a powerful way to connect with them. When they’re reclining and drinking from the bottle, you’ll notice that they only want to lock eyes with you, too. Eye contact will make your baby feel safe and loved while building an authentic connection between the two of you.
2. Have a chat or sing to them
Bottle time is a great way to connect with your baby and speak to them. Tell them what you’ve got planned for the rest of the day or chat with them about the nutritious drink they’re having. Talking to your baby helps them get to know your facial expressions and read emotional cues while stimulating their speech and language development.
If your baby is fussy on the bottle or you just want to give them some chill-out time, singing is another peaceful way to build on your relationship. We’re not saying you need to be Adele by any stretch of the imagination; your little one will still appreciate a tone-deaf rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
3. Stop to appreciate all the adorable noises
All bottle parents will know that the most rewarding sound in the world is the little whistle of air that is released when your baby finishes their whole feed. While you should never force an entire bottle on your baby, if they’re hungry and they want the whole amount, it’s so satisfying knowing your child has a belly full of goodness. Similarly, the sweet gurgling noises they make when drinking are beyond heartwarming. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we have to do after we finish feeding them, but if you can, try and take a moment to stop and appreciate your baby and all their hard work! You’re a team and look at what you’re achieving together.
4. Hold your baby’s hand
There is nothing more powerful than human touch and affection. As humans, it’s a basic need we crave at every age and stage of our life — but it’s never more important than with our babies. Not only does physically demonstrating your love help with their neurobiological development, but it also shows your baby in a very tangible way just how much they are loved.
5. Share the amazing experience with family members
One of the biggest upsides to bottle feeding is that you can share the load with your partner, friends and family. Aside from the obvious win that mum can get a bit more shut-eye while her partner helps with the night feeds, it also means you can share the joy of feeding your baby with others.
Is there anything more touching than seeing a proud grandparent feed their grandchild? Or maybe your first child is old enough to give their sibling a bottle and it can be a special job they are tasked with to help.
6. Finish your feed with a cuddle
When you’ve finished feeding your little one and they’ve been burped, celebrate another successful feed by giving your baby a big, warm hug.
No matter the way you feed your baby, it all comes down to bonding and attaching with them. As long as you are meeting your baby’s needs with love, care, and the time they deserve, you are on the right track. Bottle-feeding your baby is one of the most special ways to connect with your newborn, especially in those early days when the feeds are so frequent, so take the time to really soak in the moment.