If you have a bottle-fed baby with reflux symptoms, you may have noticed that they can drink their bottle very quickly. They may gag and splutter as they drink it. And if they do, they are without doubt taking in too much air.
And why is that a problem?
This air takes up valuable space in your baby’s tiny tummy. If you can hear the milk sloshing around in your baby’s stomach, then there’s too much air there too. When you burp baby, they will often bring up a portion of their feed with the air and this can aggravate the reflux symptoms.
The remainder of the air must also be dealt with. This air travels down through their digestive system and baby will groan, grunt and strain as they try to get it through and out the other end. This straining adds extra pressure to an already struggling digestive system.
So how can you reduce the amount of air your baby takes in while feeding.
Paced feeding is a way of bottle feeding that allow your baby to control the flow of milk better.
1. The best position for controlled feeding is to hold baby in a semi-upright position, as opposed to lying down. This helps baby to control the flow of milk better. He only needs to be slightly reclined so that the bottle isn’t pouring down into baby’s mouth.
2. Lay the bottle teat across baby’s lips (pointed up) when baby starts rooting and opening his mouth. Let baby pull the teat into his mouth and close his lips on the base of the teat.
3. Once latched on, keep the bottle just above horizontal. This allows baby to control the flow of milk better without taking in air. This also helps the bottle to last the entire length of a normal feeding, usually 10–20 minutes, rather than baby gulping a bottle down in 5 minutes.
Baby learns to recognize when he’s full because he is not filling his belly before the signals of fullness can reach his brain.
To prevent over-feeding look for cues that baby may be getting full, such as:
• Slower sucking
• Eyes wandering or getting distracted
• Not interested in feeding
• Falling asleep
• Hands are open and relaxed
When you think baby’s getting close to being full, remove the teat from his mouth by gently twisting.
Offer it again, and if he accepts, give him about 10 sucks, and repeat until he refuses. This will help him to recognise the feelings of satiety and reduce over-feeding.
Likewise, don’t make baby take the last few drops of milk in the bottle. If he falls asleep, he is finished (an exception being new-borns, who may need to be woken up in the first few days to feed)