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5 Bottle Features that Make it Easier to Combo Feed
March 27, 2024

5 Bottle Features that Make it Easier to Combo Feed

By Babylist Team
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5 Bottle Features that Make it Easier to Combo Feed

Combo feeding—aka mixed feeding—is a way to introduce formula or expressed breast milk to a breastfed baby. It can be a helpful solution for breastfeeding parents returning to work, traveling or just looking to give their nipples a break, but it can come with a lot of questions, primarily, “How the heck am I supposed to do this?”

The first thing to take into account is this: when a baby has only known breastfeeding their whole life, introducing bottle feeding can be a new, foreign thing. Some babies take to it, some need a little coaxing. Depending where you are in your research, you’ve probably even heard stories of babies fully rejecting bottles or nipple confusion—don’t panic.

Much like anything else with a baby, there’s a learning curve (for you and for them), so we’ve partnered with Suavinex to help break down exactly what to look for in a bottle when you’re trying to combo feed (their Zero Zero line of bottles was specifically made to help transition babies from breast to bottle and back again).

1. Nipple Shape

If your baby is used to a boob-like nipple, they will probably come to prefer a boob-like nipple! Most bottles that promise a more breast-like nipple will have a wide, flat shape. But that’s not exactly the full story. One of the more unique things about human breastfeeding is actually how long nipples get when babies are suckling (their latch draws in much more of the nipple than you might think). So find yourself a bottle that can do both. For example, you can see at the :20 mark in our video, the nipple on Suavinex’s Zero Zero bottle is still wide and flat like many other bottles, but is longer than many other “breast-like” designs, allowing for the elongated pull that a baby might expect from a human breast.

Nipple Shape

2. Flow

Once a baby is comfortable with nipple shape, the next thing up is how the milk flows through it. Newborn bottles usually come with something called a slow-flow nipple (with a set flow rate designed to keep the milk from flowing faster than they can drink it). Typically you change out the nipple for a faster flow as baby gets older and is able to drink more milk during feeding.

But, here’s the thing about that: when babies are breastfeed, flow isn’t fixed. Human breasts are responsive, so baby’s suction is what determines how much milk they get. Adjustable-flow rate nipples, like the ones on the Zero Zero bottles, work similarly with a flow that adjusts to baby’s suction to mirror the gentle pull of breastfeeding. Bonus: this helps when your baby gets older, too. As their suction gets stronger, they’ll get more milk.

3. Air-Free Suction

When it comes to bottle-feeding, any air your baby swallows can lead to gas (gas = fussy baby). Breastfed babies are less likely to swallow air because, well, boobs aren’t filled with air. But with bottles, keeping air out is trickier. Some brands get around it with a multi-piece bottle and air valves, but for a more breastfeeding-like experience, Zero Zero bottles use a unique silicone bag to store milk which collapses as baby is eating—creating a vacuum with a contraction that reduces the amount of air left in the bottle (aka an air-free feeding experience that’s more similar to how mammary glands contract during breastfeeding). You can see that pulling motion in action on the Zero Zero bottles at the 1:19 mark in the video above.

Air Free Suction

4. Nipple Color

If there’s one thing a breastfed baby knows, it’s that the nipple of the boob is what provides the milk—and baby knows the nipple color too. Since everyone’s nipples are different, a bottle with a variety of skin tone nipple shades can help make the switch from breast to bottle more familiar for a baby. Most baby bottles feature a clear nipple, but these Zero Zero nipples come in 4 shades and mimic texture and consistency of skin, too. Bonus: each bottle comes with a matching pacifier the same color and shape as the nipple, made to help keep baby’s suckling consistent outside of feedings. Check them both out at the 1:55 mark.

Shade range

5. Ease of Use

When you’re combo feeding for the first time, it’s easy to only think about how to make it a good experience for your baby. But it also helps to look for a bottle you’ll want to use. Unless doing the dishes is your favorite chore, that means finding bottles that are easy to prep, use and wash. As you can see at the 2:23 mark in our video, this bottle only has four parts, and you can even take off the bottom for cleaning (they’re also dishwasher safe).

Fed babies are happy babies. How you do that is up to you and your unique feeding journey. Whether you plan to breastfeed exclusively, explore combo feeding, or simply want to be prepared for anything, finding breast-like bottles that give you flexibility in your journey is usually a good place to start. To see these tips in action (and an up-close look at how the Zero Zero bottles work) watch our full video.

This post is sponsored by Suavinex. Babylist’s free site, apps and emails are made possible by our sponsors. We limit our sponsored content to relevant partners that offer products and services we believe in and use ourselves.

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