Bottle Latch Support

bottle latch

optimise your baby's bottle feeding:
A guide to bottle feeding latch

Is your baby clicking, dribbling or gulping milk down, hearing milk hitting their tummy as they swallow?
Nikki Mather at The Baby Element Clinic discusses how optimising bottle feeding latch can support  your baby to be comfortable during and after feeds.

Bottle feeding support helps with various situations. Parents may need bottle feeding support due to baby health issues, mum’s health, or supplementing breast milk. It can also empower and support those who choose formula feeding for their babies, and are finding things tricky. 

what are the benefits of a good bottle latch?

Bottle feeding might seem like a simple process, but a good latch is key to optimising your baby’s comfort. Just like breastfeeding, a proper seal helps your baby get enough milk and avoid air intake. This means less gas, fussiness, and happier feeding time for everyone.
A good bottle latch also protects babies from overeating or having a flow preference or nipple confusion if they switch between breast and bottle. Look for a wide mouth on the teat and encourage your baby to take most of it in their mouth. Watch for lips sealed onto the teat with np gaps at the corner of the mouth, and a rhythmic sucking pattern – that’s a good latch!

 

  • Efficient feeding: A good latch ensures your baby can drink in a rhythmic, calm pattern. This ensures they get enough milk without overfeeding, guzzling excessive milk or taking in too much air, which can causes discomfort, gas and general fussiness.

  • Flow preference or nipple confusion: Narrow teats which cause a shallow latch can make it harder for babies to switch back to breastfeeding.

  • Happy tummy: An optimum latch on a wide base teat helps prevent babies overeating, stops milk leaking from the corners of the mouth, reducing spills and excess air intake, therefore reducing discomfort for your baby.  

shallow bottle latch - lips are tucked in, baby is attached to the tip of the teat only

What if my baby cannot have a deep latch on the bottle?

There are several reasons why a Lactation Consultant might recommend a bottle feeding consultation:

    • Solve latch issues: Consultant can identify and address problems with bottle attachment and sucking technique for better milk intake and comfort.
    • Reduce gas and fussiness: Learn how to responsively feed your baby (paced bottle feeding), optimising bottle positioning to prevent excessive air intake and ensure calmer feeding sessions.
    • Increase feeding efficiency: A consultation can help ensure your baby gets the right amount of milk without tiring quickly, drinking too much or snacking their way through the day. 
    • Improve reflux symptoms: Discover why your baby is experiencing reflux symptoms and improve their skills.

when to seek more support for bottle feeding

If your baby is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is worth seeing a feeding specialist about the issues you are facing and finding solutions for bottle feeding issues. 

  • Latch problems: Baby struggles to suck effectively or keep the teat in their mouth.
  • Tongue Tie: Oral function affects bottle fed babies too!
  • Gas and fussiness: Air swallowed during feeds are causing discomfort and sleep issues.
  • Overfeeding/Underfeeding: Baby takes in too much or too little milk due to improper flow rate or feeding cues.
  • Choking or coughing: Milk flows too quickly or baby isn’t managing the flow well.
  • Flow preference or nipple confusion: If switching between bottle and breast becomes difficult due to different sucking techniques.
  • Reflux symptoms: If your baby is experiencing reflux episodes, excess vomiting, weight loss or related challenges.

why you might want to optimise baby's bottle latch, and how to do it

Why change a bottle feeding latch?
By changing a shallow latch to a deep latch on the bottle, your baby will feed more effectively, taking in less air, settle well between feeds, improve baby’s ability to regulate their own appetite and reduce reflux symptoms.

How to help your baby achieve a deeper latch on the bottle
Hold them close to you, their head tilted back (imagine drinking a glass of water) and place the teat base on their chin to trigger a wide mouth gape – the end of the teat up the nostrils. Aim the nipple towards the roof of their mouth, ensuring they take a deep latch with most of the nipple and base in their mouth. Look for rhythmic sucking and swallowing, and adjust their latch if they’re gulping or leaking milk. Slow-flow teats and regular burp breaks during feeding further enhance comfort and ensures milk is consumed in a good time. 

Here are some tips to help your baby get a good bottle latch:

    • Positioning: Hold your baby close, in an upright or slightly reclined position in your arms. Their head and neck are well-supported, with their head tipped back like you would whilst drinking.
    • Trigger the rooting reflex: Gently stroke your baby’s lips with the teat, their chin making contact with the teat to encourage them to open their mouth wide.
    • Aim for a wide mouth: Once open wide, aim the nipple towards the roof of their mouth, not just the tip.
    • Deep latch is key: Ensure your baby takes a large mouthful, including most of the nipple and the base of the nipple area (areola). Their lips should be flanged outwards, not tucked inwards.
    • Observe sucking: Look for rhythmic sucking with pauses for swallowing. If they’re gulping or not swallowing, adjust the latch.
    • Check for leaks: Milk dribbling from the corners of the mouth indicates a poor latch.
If you are still having challenges after trying some of the tips you have read about here, get in touch for a consultation online or in person, or ask your health visitor if they can support you.

Deep bottle latch - lips are sealed in a wide latch, baby is attached to the majority of the teat

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