When I first met my daughter, feeding her definitely caused the most anxiety. Six hours prior to holding her, my partner and I found out she was joining our family by adoption, so I was so excited about seeing her I didn't give feeding her a second thought. When the nurse broke out a bottle for her scheduled feed I definitely wanted in, but I pretty surprised when I realized the things everyone thinks happen the first time you formula-feed a baby, well, don't actually happen at all.
First, my daughter didn't really know what to do with the bottle. Second, it seemed enormous compared to the rest of her tiny body, even though it was a newborn pre-mixed bottle. And third, I had to hold her little chin up to help her get enough suction to feed. It was so much more work to get her to drink two ounces of formula than I ever imagined it would be. Of course, that first feeding was just a taste of what the newt few months in the trenches of newborn life had in store for me.
I'm sure other formula-fed babies take to their bottles faster, but I know my daughter wasn't the only baby in the history of babies to be disinterested in bottles and slow to learn how to make them work for her. If you're heading into bottle-feeding soon, here are a few things that don't actually happen when you're starting out. Don't worry, though; you and baby will get there with a little patience.
The Baby Instantly Latches
I remember being so surprised that my daughter didn't already know how to latch onto a bottle when I poked the nipple into her mouth the first time. It seemed so foreign to her. Plus, the newborn nipple on that tiny bottle was enormous when compared to the size of her newborn mouth.
The Baby Instantly Sucks
Nope. Not even close. My partner and I had to teach our daughter, and keep teaching her for about month, how to actually suck formula out a bottle. My daughter isn't a big eater and, honestly, and looking back her reluctancy to suck was our first inclination that we were in for a long ride on the feeding front.
The Baby Will Drink More Than A Few Sips
It took us forever to get our daughter to drink her first bottle, which was essentially a glimpse into what our first few months of feeding sessions would be like. I'm sure some babies take to bottle feeding really quickly, especially if they're older than my daughter was (she was just 3 days old, the little bug), but in my experience your newborn isn't going to be guzzling down formula from the get-go.
There's No Work Involved On Your Part
There's a common perception that formula-feeding is easier than breastfeeding. Maybe that's true, and I can't say for sure as I have yet to experience breastfeeding for myself (and even if I had, everyone's breastfeeding experience is different, so who knows what it can be/will be like for me) but there's definitely a significant amount of work that goes into bottle-feeding, too. Like, a lot of work, you guys.
Feeding your baby via a bottle means figuring out how to get the baby to suck if that isn't an instant reaction, or figuring out how to get the baby to latch. Then there's figuring out how to get your baby to keep sucking and swallowing if, again, that isn't a natural reaction, too. It's probably easier than doing it with your boob, but when you also have to make bottles and wash bottles and store bottles, it's no walk in the park either.
The Baby Gazes Lovingly Into Your Eyes
My daughter's eyes were fully closed and she was in danger of falling asleep. So, during that first feeding session I had to blow in her face and try to get her to perk up in order to get her to actually eat.
You Won't Need Help From A Nurse
Well, I definitely needed some assistance. In fact, if the nurses didn't do such a great job teaching my partner and I how to help our daughter eat, we would't been significantly more stressed out during those first few days, weeks, and months of flying solo. Instead, she got increasingly better at drinking from a bottle without our help.
That It Won't Leave You In Tears
I cried when I first fed my daughter, not because it was so difficult (that did come later, though), but because I was so moved at the fact that I was finally, finally feeding my daughter.
That It Won't Take Very Long
I was shocked at how long it took my daughter to drink her first bottle. The bottle was tiny, to be sure, but it took probably 40 minutes for our little one to drink most of it. I had no idea it was going to take that long for my tiny human to drink so little.