A Guide to Pace Feeding Your Baby

If you're feeding your baby via bottle, you might be worried about some of the drawbacks, such as an upset stomach, overfeeding, and lack of control over how much they drink. Luckily, a feeding method called paced feeding is the perfect solution for these issues and giving your baby a bit of the control during their feeding sessions. Learning how to pace feed your baby is a simple process that only require a few tweaks to what you're already doing. And even though the tweaks are small, the impact can be profound, especially if you've been dealing with colic-like symptoms, choking without explanation, or are worried you may be overfeeding your baby.

To pace feed your baby, all you need is a bottle of your expressed milk and, of course, your baby. According to Mama Natural, the method is meant to mimic breastfeeding using positioning, in the hopes of helping your baby recognize their own feelings of "fullness" as they eat.

Lansinoh noted that it's important to wait until your baby is showing hunger cues. You should avoid feeding your baby on a set schedule and, instead, opt to read their signs of hunger like rooting, licking their lips, opening their mouth, sucking on their fists, or getting more fussy.

Once you're sure that your baby is genuinely hungry, it's time to feed them. Hold your baby in an upright position — the major step that sets paced feeding apart from regular feeding — instead of cradling them in your arms like most parents do when bottle feeding. Lansinoh noted that this helps your baby better control the flow of the milk, since the bottle won't be directly pointed down.

When your baby is ready to eat, simply tickle their lips with the bottle. Never push the nipple into your baby's mouth. Mama Natural pointed out that tickling their lips and waiting for them to open their mouth teaches them that they're in charge of taking the bottle into their mouth and starting to suck.

Feed your baby with the bottle tilted horizontally, not vertically, which reduces the force of the milk greatly. Mother Love noted that parents should allow their baby to pause frequently (every 30 seconds or so) and should aim at the length of time a breastfeeding session would take.

When your baby is showing signs of fullness, like pushing the bottle away or turning their face away, simply remove the bottle, even if they haven't finished it all. Lansinoh noted that allowing your baby to decide when they're done aids in emotional and social development, is better for their digestion, reduces risks associated with overfeeding, and allows for a smooth transition from breast to bottle if you plan to do both methods.