Paced Bottle Feeding: The Best Way To Bottle Feed A Breastfed Baby



This is a method of slowing down the flow and time a baby eats with a bottle. At the bottle all a baby needs to do is basically squeeze or compress on the nipple and milk comes quickly flowing out. With breastfeeding, a baby needs to work to get the let down, use many different oral muscles to create a seal around the nipple, and suck the milk out of the breast (which is biologically normal and important for proper mouth and jaw development). The slower pace allows baby’s brain and stomach to connect, letting them know when they’re full. When a baby is allowed to drink quickly at the bottle they tend to over feed.

If you are breastfeeding; this quick over feeding can make it difficult to go back and forth to the breast. Your baby may get used to the easy fast flow. It can also dwindle your milk supply since baby would be taking in much more then what he/she actually needs and more than your producing.

Paced bottle feeding can be done in a way to imitate breastfeeding which in turn makes it easier for baby to go back and forth from breast to bottle and bottle to breast. This video shows a great example of paced bottle feeding. Take a look…



  • Use a slow flow nipple.
  • Have baby in an upright angled position.
  • Use the bottle to imitate breastfeeding as much as possible. Tickle your baby’s upper lip, wait for a nice wide open mouth, and put the nipple far back into baby’s mouth. Watch that both upper lip and bottom lip are flanged wide open.
  • Listen for the suck, suck, swallow patterns, let your baby suck. suck, swallow a few times, then take the bottle out or tip it down slightly to slow things down.
  • Some babies do better with taking the bottle out of the mouth completely (as we see in the video) during the resting time from sucking, other babies do well with just slightly tilting the bottle down so there is very little or no milk in the tip. See what works best for your baby.
  • Try to stretch the feeding out for as long as your baby usually nurses at the breast. A good 15-20 mins  with paced bottle feeding is the idea.
  • When your baby slows down and turns away from the bottle nipple this means they are full. It’s not necessary to finish the bottle, your baby is telling you they’ve had enough, and you can go ahead and burp her and if she’s still acting hungry after then you can switch her to the other side as you would breastfeeding and have her latch onto the bottle again imitating latching onto the breast.
  • Store expressed breastmilk 2 ounces in a bag at a time. Breastfed babies take in about 2-3 ounces while nursing. Storing your milk in 2 ounce quantities makes it less likely to  give your baby more than she needs. If baby truly needs more that’s fine just remember keep it slow.
  • In a short period of time  your baby will get used to pausing, breathing, and taking a break from sucking, just be patient and keep trying especially when baby is in a good mood (always seems to work better that way)

Post your questions, concerns, and your own experiences with paced bottle feeding in the comment section!


16 thoughts on “Paced Bottle Feeding: The Best Way To Bottle Feed A Breastfed Baby”

  1. It was a good reminder to see that it is recommended to store 2oz milk in storage bags as I was unsure how much to freeze. I am using milk from July and the bags have 4 oz or 3.5oz and I ended up wasting some bc my 9 month old ended up not drinking as much as normal.

  2. I am so glad that I found this article! I am a full time working mommy and recently I have felt like I have been having issues nursing when I get home at night after my lo has been bottle fed all day. I have a really strong feeling that it had to do with the switching back and forth from breast to bottle but was not sure how to address the issue. Now I atleast have a baseline idea to work off and see if it helps our specific needs. Thank you so much!

    1. Melissa Preitauer, IBCLC

      This is in no way an endorsement here, just information, but it seems like many mom’s find Dr. Brown’s preemie or narrow neck bottle nipples tend to have a much slower flow.

  3. Heather Biggs

    What about the munchkin latch bottles? Also, if my baby has gotten use to the fast flow, in time with stretching out the feeding time do you think she’ll start taking the breast again? I had a lot of issues in the beginning and needed to pump and bottle feed. My supply fluctuates drastically right now.

    1. Melissa Preitauer, IBCLC

      Hi Heather,

      Regarding the type of bottles it really is an individual thing, but I tend to like the bottle nipples that are longer so that baby is used to having the nipple farther back in the mouth, matching more of how breastfeeding is. Slowing the flow and feeding time can help. There is a great article by Kellymom that I would highly recommend reading though on getting baby back to the breast! I hope this helps!

  4. Hello, this information seems very helpful, I have a 2 week old who will happily chug down up to 4 OZ every couple hours so I’m trying to slow him down. I know you said the ‘sucking air’ thing isn’t harmful, but I’m concerned it may cause gas or other tummy troubles. Do babies not swallow the air, or is there a source you can reference as this being ok for baby? Live all the helpful information!

    1. Melissa Preitauer, IBCLC

      Hi! Every baby is different…some babies may need to be burped a little longer than others, if you are noticing digestive upset. Generally, any air baby takes in when slowed down with paced feeding just gets pushed out through their nose as they coordinate their suck, swallow, breath pattern. The first few times getting used to paced feeding baby may take in a little more air (this is when burping more can be helpful), once baby and you get the hang of it, they will take in less air than with regular bottle feeding. This article may help as well… I hope that helps! Congratulations on the new addition to your family!

  5. I just found this and feel so much better after watching it. My son sucked down 2 oz of milk in 3 mins last night when we tried bottle feeding. He seemed content but I put him on my breast to finish anyway.
    I couldn’t figure out why he drank from the bottle so fast when he takes at least 20 min to nurse.
    We also were using tommee tippee anti colic bottles with slow flow nipple. Have you had any experience with these?

  6. Thank you for this post. My baby has been gulping about 3 oz of formula in 10 min. This definitely helps me to know how to pace the bottle feeding. She’s usually slower at the breast. We have been switching bottles to see which one works better.

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