In an ideal world, all babies would take to bottle-feeding instinctively without any further coercion needed. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most babies and it’s better to be prepared for this scenario in advance. Here we have collected some tips on how to get your baby to take a bottle.
It’s recommended to introduce the bottle into their feeding routine when they are around 1 month old. It’s a good idea, however, to start getting them familiar with the feel and texture of the bottle’s nipple from when they are 1-2 weeks old as long as they are having no issues latching to your breast for nursing.
There is a good chance your baby won’t take to the bottle straight away and when you first offer them they might start crying. If this happens, soothe them and try again a little bit later. If they get fussy every time you present them the bottle, finish breastfeeding first. Try again once they calmed down and full.
Make sure your baby is healthy and ready for bottle-feeding. If they are teething or have any other conditions that might make them moody or fussy this might not be the right time to introduce the bottle. Wait until they are back to their usual self and comfortable. It’s crucial to make this positive experience for them.
Make sure when you first introduce the bottle it’s in a very quiet and peaceful setting when the baby is calm and comfortable. It’s important to make new experiences for babies as positive as possible. Don’t force this onto them, never try to forcefully put the nipple in their mouths. Such a negative experience might result in overall refusal later on in time. It’s essential to introduce the bottle slowly and allow them to get familiar with the texture first. After breastfeeding when they are calm, let them play with the bottle. Pour a very small amount of milk in it so they can familiarize themselves with it at their own pace.
Try to wear a nipple shield during regular nursing so they can get used to a different mouth feel.
Choose the Correct Bottle
Finding a suitable bottle for your baby might not be an easy task. It might need some trial and error to get it right. Ideally, you should have a few different ones at hand from the get-go. Try to get a selection of bottles with different textures, shapes, and flow. When you first transition from nipple to bottle try to choose one that looks and feels similar to the “real deal”. You can even get ones that are brown to make it look even more convincing. Warm the nipple before offering it to your baby so it will more likely remind them of their usual experience. Make sure that the bottle’s nipple doesn’t have too wide of a base and nor is it too long as it might not be comfortable for them to suck on it.
Usually, it’s recommended to warm the milk slightly so it resembles the temperature of the milk that comes out of your breast. Keep in mind however that bottle-feeding itself is a very different experience for them. A different temperature might make it more interesting and may encourage them to try it. Some babies prefer cool milk or even frozen milk so it’s a good time to experiment and try out different temperatures. Just make sure it’s not too hot for them.
Babies can be fussy and they are creatures of habit. Once they associate your breasts with feeding it might be difficult for you to offer them a bottle as that’s not what they are used to. Getting someone in the family to introduce bottle-feeding might be an easier transition. You can start by getting your partner or grandparents involved. You can ask anyone to help out as long as the baby is familiar and comfortable with them. Once they have taken to the bottle you can get others involved as well but try to stick to familiar faces until then.
While someone else is feeding your baby try to leave the room. They might refuse to go along with your plan if they see the original and often preferred way of feeding as a viable option. This is a perfect opportunity for you to have some well deserved “me time” as well. Go out for a walk or do a bit of shopping. When you have a baby on your hand it might be difficult to find time for yourself but it’s very important.
Once your baby is comfortable with breastfeeding it’s a good idea to start introducing pacifiers. It has a similar concept to bottle-feeding. You can even get special pacifiers that will prepare them for the feel and texture of the bottle making the transition even easier.
Some babies love to be cradled but this pose might be too closely associated with breastfeeding and it might not work out for bottle-feeding. Try out different positions, settings, and locations. They might prefer feeding while sitting up or while laying down and you only hold the bottle for them.
Remember that different things work for different babies. Your baby might do better with the bottle if the experience resembles breastfeeding, but maybe you need to make it feel like a completely different thing and that will work better for them. Keep trying different ideas and tweak on your method if something doesn’t seem to be working out.
Unfortunately, there is no one method that works for all. If your baby is refusing the bottle it might take a while to figure out the best setup that works for them.
If you are going back to work make sure you give them a couple of extra weeks in advance to take to bottle-feeding. Be patient and things will soon click!
What have you tried to get your baby more interested in bottle-feeding? Let us know down in the comments!