Nipple/Teat Confusion & Cup Feeding
Nipple/teat confusion and cup-feeding?
Clare Byam-Cook says
If a baby can’t latch on, and/or needs to be given extra milk many hospitals will insist that the baby is fed with a cup rather than a bottle to avoid ‘nipple/teat confusion’. The mother is told that even one bottle of milk will ruin breastfeeding forever by causing the baby to lose his ability to suck on the breast. This is complete nonsense! I regularly see babies who have been fed by bottle for days or even weeks and most of them can go straight to the breast as soon as they are given the right help (by shaping the breast as described in my books and DVD). While cup-feeding in hospital is fine for a couple of feeds, once you are home I think you should use a bottle because:
- Cup-feeding requires the skill of an experienced midwife to ensure that the milk goes down the baby’s throat (rather than his clothes!) and a new mother is unlikely to be this skilled.
- When cup-feeding it is hard to see exactly how much milk your baby is drinking or to judge how much he wants, so he may end up getting less milk than he needs.
- There is no clear evidence that giving a few bottle feeds will confuse a breast-fed baby.
- If a baby is given a bottle because he can’t or won’t suck on the breast, it seems a bit illogical to blame the bottle if the problem continues.
- I take the view that sucking on a bottle is better than no sucking at all - because lapping milk from a cup requires no effort by your baby
- If your baby is weak or premature, it is better to check whether he is able to suck from anything (eg a bottle) before wasting his energy trying to get him to suck on the breast