I hear it all the time.
Mom and partner get home from a much-needed date night to find out that grandma gave their 4-month old two 6oz bottles in 4 hours.
Mom picks up her baby from daycare to find out that her 6-month old took three 5oz bottles, plus the backup 5oz bottle in the freezer, in 8 hours. She pumped 12oz at work and thought that would be plenty for the next day. (which it is!)
Mom comes home from getting a haircut to find that her partner gave their 3-month old a 5oz bottle. The baby only ate 3oz, so her partner threw the extra 2oz away.
Who ever said there’s no crying over spilled (or wasted) milk never pumped breastmilk for her baby!
It’s hard work to pump… who has extra time when taking care of a newborn to pop on some plastic milk-extracting contraption and just sit for 15 minutes? Um… no one! So when a caregiver over feeds a baby, or throws away breast milk that could have been used at another time, it can be very frustrating and defeating for a mom. And as that extra freezer stash starts to dwindle because of misuse and over feeding, moms might feel their stress levels spike to an uncomfortable high.
So how can a mom ensure that her baby’s caregiver isn’t overfeeding, or unnecessarily throwing away, that precious liquid gold she spent time to pump out?
Top 10 Ways to Stop Caregivers from Overfeeding Your Breastfed Baby
- Keep bottles in small increments (2-4oz, depending on the weight and age of your baby) and tell the caregiver to wait in between bottles to assess the baby’s mood (to see if he/she is really hungry) – Haley
- Use the slowest flow nipple you can find and use the 1oz per hour rule (offer 1oz per hour that you are away from your baby) – Miranda
- Pre-make bottles in small increments. For example, leave two 3oz bottles so caregivers don’t have to divide a 6oz bag into two separate bottles. – Shelly
- Go over Kellymom’s article with your baby’s caregiver, How to bottlefeeding the breastfed baby, which talks about paced bottlefeeding – Tova and Megan
- After baby has taken the bottle, try other soothing techniques (i.e. rocking, singing, swaying, take on a walk) rather than offering more breastmilk in an extra bottle.
- Keep a few extra 1oz bags of breastmilk in the freezer or fridge. That way, if your baby’s caregiver really needs to offer your baby a little bit more, it is a small amount and won’t go to waste.
- Talk to your baby’s caregiver about reusing breastmilk. While there are no definitive studies that state the exact amount of time that breastmilk must be used within (once the bottle has been fed from), most lactation consultants believe that if a bottle of breastmilk isn’t completely finished, it is safe to place it back in the fridge and the remainder used within 4 hours. (Kellymom.com article - Reusing Expressed Breastmilk)
- Use the milk calculator to figure out how much your baby will need per bottle. Keep in mind, this is only accurate until your baby weighs 14lbs. After that, your baby’s breastmilk need plateaus at about 28-35oz per day. It won’t go up beyond that, so those 6-8oz bottles are really unnecessary.
- Have a heart to heart discussion with your baby’s caregiver. Let him/her know how important it is to you that your baby isn’t overfed while away from you. Show empathy and explain that you understand how challenging it is to read your baby’s cues and that things are easier for you because you can always soothe your baby with your breast, which is something the caregiver cannot do. Explain how much milk your baby truly needs in a bottle and during the time you are gone. Anything over that is too much for your baby and makes it difficult for you to keep up. Come up with unique ways for him/her to bond with and soothe your baby, rather than just relying on giving more breastmilk in a bottle.
- This advice came from a nanny, which was written so well I didn’t want to paraphrase it. ‘I nannies a breastfed baby for about a year and communication with the mom was very important. I also stuck to a schedule. If it was getting close to time for another bottle and I expected her home soon, I would text or call her to see if she wanted me to wait if she was on her way. Also, we would talk in the morning and she would let me know if she planned on coming home for lunch so I knew not to make a bottle. When I noticed that her son’s appetite was increasing, I would let her know that he was acting more hungry increased his bottles 1oz at a time. We also worked on adjusting his schedule so instead of 4oz every 2 hours, we found that 5oz every 3 hours kept him happy. That way he only needed 2 bottles while she was gone (10oz) instead of 3-4 bottles (12-16oz). A big help was her freezer milk in a variety of ounces. I was able to defrost what I needed to give her son without wasting any. As a breastfeeding mom myself, I did my best to respect the hard work she put into building a stash of milk for her son. – Catie.