Is nipple confusion real? What experts say about your baby’s feeding preferences

Can parents prevent nipple confusion? Experts say there are ways to help your baby learn to transition between breast and bottle feeding. (Photo: Getty Creative) Having a little one means a lifetime full of choices. From the moment a baby comes into the world the options are never-ending, and one of the first and most important decisions parents will make is not only what their child will eat, but how.

As new parents and parents-to-be, the term nipple confusion may cause … confusion itself.

What is nipple confusion? And, what are the signs that a baby is struggling with switching between breast and bottle feeding? Yahoo Life chatted with moms and dads, parenting experts and pediatricians about nipple confusion and what it means for a mom’s milk supply or a baby’s ability to handle introducing a bottle.

Mindy Cockeram , a certified lactation educator and author of the book Breastfeeding Doesn’t Have to Suck: Tips, Tricks and Knowledge for a Great Experience says in order for parents to fully understand the term "nipple confusion," they need a bit of clarification on the phenomenon.

"I don’t actually think babies get confused whatsoever between a silicone teat with milk dripping out of it quickly versus a warm breast where they have to work much harder to get the same amount," says the Redlands, Calif. educator, "they start to prefer one over the other." Cockeram explains babies can get used to the fast flow that comes with feeding from a bottle, getting incensed when put back to their mother’s nipples, from which milk is more slow-flowing. Alternatively, many babies reject the artificial nipples involved with bottle feeding and insist on breast milk due to Mom’s warmth and the comfort of skin-on-skin contact. Is nipple confusion real?

"This topic has been highly debated by experts," says Hali Shields , a certified birth and postpartum doula, board-certified wellness coach and certified lactation education counselor, "though it’s believed by most practitioners."

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