Worried you'll miss out on bonding with your baby if you don't breastfeed? Whether you chose to formula-feed, pump exclusively, or breastfeed part-time, there are several ways you can bond with baby -- bottle and all!
Dr. Mom, Melissa Arca, M.D., says, ''It's a fallacy to assume that only breastfeeding mothers can adequately bond with baby during feeding time. Not only is skin-to-skin contact entirely possible, what matters most is that moms allow themselves to just be in the moment."
While it's tempting to multitask when you have a to-do list longer than the U.S. Constitution... stay focused. Drop all of your I-things, snuggle up and make feeding your baby the only task at hand. By ditching distractions, you can take advantage of every moment you have to make mealtime a bonding experience for both of you. Besides, before you know it, your little bundle of joy won't need you to hold their bottle anymore.
One of the benefits of nursing is the skin-to-skin contact babies enjoy while on the breast. If you opt for the bottle, you can still feed your baby skin-to-skin. Try feeding your baby while you're both lying down, with your baby close to you and their head elevated on your arm, or cradled in your arms and nestled next to your chest.
Tip^ A nursing pillow like My Brest Friend (My Brest Friend, $44), that straps around your waist, is actually a great bottle-feeding accessory. Use it to rest your baby on the pillow and maintain skin-to-skin contact, with two hands free to feed them.
While you're feeding your little one, maintain eye contact. Take that time to cradle and touch them (mimicking the breastfeeding experience), gaze into their little eyes and connect with your baby. You can also give them a different view of you (and the world around them) by switching arms halfway through feeding.
Don't prop the bottle. Propping the bottle not only raises safety and health concerns (like choking, ear infections and tooth decay), but it can also rob both of you of meaningful quality time. Mealtime is the perfect time to really engage with your baby by creating a go-to ritual, like singing the same songs to them each time you feed them. Talking to your baby is a great way to bond, too. While you're feeding them, tell your baby about their family, their siblings, or cite all the little things you love about them... from their little toes, all the way up!
"Moms who have found themselves unexpectedly bottle-feeding, whether due to latch issues or low milk supply, should allow themselves some time to grieve and truly let go of the guilt," says Arca. "Bottle- and formula-fed babies will thrive and be just as emotionally attached as a breastfeeding baby."