We brought a Medela Calma bottle when Theo was about 7 days old. At the time he was in hospital having been poorly and was requiring supplementation via a tube and via syringe. Here is his story. At the time I decided to try a Medela Calma teat Theo was able to latch onto the breast to feed but was too weak to stay on long enough to take a decent feed. He had never used a different bottle. It became apparent to me that supplementation would be needed for a short period of time and that continued use of syringe feeding was not effective enough.
How it works
Medela have this to say:
"For a mother looking for a solution to feed her child breastmilk, Calma is ideal. Calma was developed based on the results of our studies with the University of Western Australia. That's why Calma is the unique teat for babies who are being breastfed with breastmilk, as it allows them to suck, swallow and breathe, as learned on the breast. Whether you breastfeed or use Calma, the baby has to create a vacuum for breastmilk to flow. As soon as the baby pauses, the flow is stopped, this is also the way with breastfeeding.
Similar as with breastfeeding, your baby can
-Drink, pause and breathe in its natural rhythm
-Create its individiual vacuum through a combination of tongue and jaw movements
-Retain its natural way of sucking, which supports an easy trasition from breastfeeding to feeding breastmilk with Calma and back to the breast"
Compared to a normal bottle the Calma makes baby work for milk. This could help prevent nipple confusion as sometimes babies who are offered both breast and bottle during the early days develop a preference for bottle as its a lot easier to get milk from.
Medela make no claim either way regarding babies developing nipple confusion after using the Calma, but simply state the Calma " Supports an easy transition from the breast to teat and back" and claim the teat is produced after various studies. To me this says "We have developed this product to help prevent nipple confusion but don't have the statistics to back up that claim".
From our point of view we used the Calma for 8 weeks. During that time I was unwell and separated from Theo at times. His main source of nutrition from 1 week to 4 weeks old was via the bottle, but he continued to latch to the breast at least once a day. He had absolutely no signs of nipple confusion and moved easily between breast and bottle.
Using the Calma isn't exactly like breastfeeding though. The milk in the bottle is still more available to baby than via breastfeeding and baby can take more milk in more quickly.
We did use formula in the bottle at times as opposed to expressed breast milk. What tended to happen was the powder would clog up the small hole in the middle part of the teat. We were able to unclog with a pin. It works for formula but does clog up on a regular basis and it is best to use expressed breast milk if available.
I doubt that the Calma would work well for an older breastfed baby that is refusing to bottle feed. The teat is pretty long and if a baby isn't happy having a normal sized teat in their mouth then they probably won't be happy having a larger teat. But that said, once they take the bottle in they should find it easier to get milk as the sucking pattern should be more familiar.
Would we use again?
I really hope that I can breastfeed my next baby without the need for supplementation, but if I was faced with a situation where baby required medium-long term supplementation by someone other than me then I would use the Calma again.
These opinions are my own. I have not been provided with any incentive to write this review by Medela, they don't even know I'm writing it. I have chosen to review this item as its something that people are often asking about to see how well they work.