Breast-style Bottle Nipples

December 31st, 2013
baby, food, ideas, kids
The skills a baby needs to take milk from a breast are not the same ones they need for a bottle. So if you try and use both the baby can have "nipple confusion" where they apply the methods for one kind of nipple to the other, getting upset instead of milk. The recommendation is that if you want to breastfeed your baby that you not use bottle-feeding at all, even with pumped breast milk, until as late as possible. This isn't ideal, as it means that the mother has to be near the baby basically all the time, and no one can watch the baby for them for more than an hour or two. So why don't we make bottles that require the same actions from the baby that a breast does, allowing easy substitution between the two?

This is something people have tried to make, but so far they haven't succeeded. Remaining differences appear to be:

  • Bottles require a constant amount of suction to produce milk, which can be high or low depending on the design, but breasts require an initial high level followed by a lower level.
  • Bottles generally don't deform at all, and even the ones designed to deform don't do it in the same way as breasts.

This appears to be enough of a problem that no bottle currently on the market is interchangable with a breast from the infant's prespective, but I don't see why it needs to stay that way. What's keeping manufacturers from producing bottles that take all of these into account?

(You might think that part of the problem is that each person's breasts are different and so you can't design a single bottle that will mimic everyone's, but I haven't found anyone talking about nipple confusion in cases where the same child is nursed by multiple people. So it seems like breasts are similar enough to each other that one bottle sould be able to work for everyone.)

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