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How Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding Differ

Bottle feeding and breastfeeding are very different experiences for infants. Many infants can learn the skills required for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding and go back and forth with ease but some infants have a particularly difficult time and may come to prefer one or the other which can cause frustration for the breastfeeding mama.

Breastfeeding

Bottle Feeding

Sucking involves the baby's entire mouth and the breast molds to the baby's mouth.

The baby brings the nipple into the mouth and forms the mouth around the shape of the bottle nipple.

The mother has a soft nipple that elongates when the baby sucks.

Artificial nipples are firm and unadaptable.

The baby actively sucks to retrieve breastmilk.

The baby draws in nipple and breast tissue into the mouth, requiring lots of jaw movement when sucking.


The baby compresses the nipple in order for the milk to flow.

Breastfed babies breathe more often than bottle fed babies.


When babies bottle feed, they have longer bursts of sucking than with breastfeeding which can result in overfeeding.

The baby has control over the rate of milk flow and can slow down when he/she wants to take a break.

The baby alternates between nutritive and non-nutritive sucking throughout the feed.


When held in a traditional bottle feeding position, babies don’t have much control over the rate of milk flow and are unable to rest.

The initial sucking at the breast does not release milk. The baby’s rapid sucking in the beginning triggers the mother’s milk ejection reflex (let-down) which brings on the milk release.

Once a letdown has occurred, the baby’s rate of sucking and rate of milk flow slows down.


Milk flow is fast, begins immediately and requires less work from the baby than with breastfeeding.


The amount of milk consumed by the baby is typically unknown (unless the mother does a weighted feed).

It is obvious how much milk a baby consumes at each feed.

The baby’s tongue is extended and helps massage the breast when nursing.

The baby’s tongue is placed at the back of the throat as a protection against swallowing too much milk.

The baby may or may not need to burp during and after the feed.

Babies almost always need multiple opportunities to burp during and after bottle feeding.

Multiple let-downs are common during breastfeeding even if the mother only feels the first one or never feels one at all.

Breastfeeding supports healthy development of the baby’s oral and facial muscles as well as the proper development of swallowing and teeth alignment.

Dear Parents: Define your own success. Whether that’s breastfeeding, bottle feeding or a combination of both, you’re doing a great job!





Baby bottle

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