“Help! My baby won’t take a bottle. She only wants to breast-feed!”
“My child refuses to take a bottle of breastmilk. He wants it from the source but I need a break sometimes and it would be nice if my husband could give my son a bottle.”
“Please help! I am going back to work in 2 weeks and my 3 month old daughter will not take the bottle. I don’t know what to do!”
I received all of these questions in my inbox this week, so you can see that bottle vs. breast is a common issue for some babies.
Whether you’re going back to work, going out for a few hours, or find yourself in a situation that will require you to be away from your baby for several hours, if your baby won’t take the bottle, it can be extremely stressful and upsetting for mom, the baby and the person who will be with the baby during Mom’s absence.
So what DO you do when you can’t get your child to take a bottle:
I’ve asked my Facebook followers for solutions to this particular parenting challenge, and they had some great advice!
Hopefully one or more of these suggestions will help you transition your child from breast to bottle smoothly.
Baby with Bottle via Shutterstock
What to do when your baby won’t take a bottle:
For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links.
- Have someone else feed the baby. Leave the room or even the house so your baby can’t see, hear, sense and smell you.
- Be sure the baby does not have reflux, or thrust reflex, and that he/she is not teething.
- Skip the bottle, and go straight to a cup, or use a transitional learner cup.
- Ensure there is skin-on-skin contact and cuddle baby while trying the cup.
- Introduce the bottle when baby is not fully awake – when she’s falling asleep or just waking up, while still dozy and disoriented.
- Change the type of nipple (try latex rubber, silicone, etc…).
- Try a different bottle style. Many have had success with the Tommee Tippee Bottle and Mam Bottles.
- Avoid trying the bottle when baby is very hungry.
- Introduce the bottle in a low-pressure situation (not in a hurry).
- Check the temperature of the milk. Often the milk isn’t warm enough. Or try different temperatures, warm, room temperature, cold etc.
- Warm the nipple of the bottle (in warm water) just before feeding.
- Experiment with different sizes of bottle nipples (wide mouth bottle, etc…) Even try the older-style bottle with the brown nipples.
- Try feeding baby milk from a spoon, syringe or medicine dropper. It is time consuming, but baby will get some nutrition.
- Use a straw.
- It sounds crazy, but Google “moon phases”, and see when the New Moon is. Try bottle-feeding around that date.
- Check with your doctor before trying this one: some doctors will suggest dipping the bottle nipple in sugar water until they accept it.
- Put breast-milk on the bottle nipple to give it a familiar flavour and to encourage baby to suck.
- Start out by breast-feeding, and slip the bottle into baby’s mouth at the end of the feeding. Keep skin to skin contact during the bottle feeding.
- Transition to bottle by using a nipple shield on yourself first.
- Pierce several tiny holes in the bottle’s slow-flow nipple with a sterilized needle. This will imitate the breast. Watch your baby closely to be sure that the milk doesn’t flow out too quickly.
- Try changing the flow speed of the nipple. Slow-flow, fast-flow, etc.
- Change the scenery. Ask a family friend or relative to feed your baby in their home, instead of yours.
- Try the bottle when you’re not holding your baby, i.e. she’s in the shopping cart, in the stroller etc.
- If your baby is over 6 months, the person watching the baby can hold them off with baby food, mixed with breast-milk, until you can be home for a feeding.
- Feed your baby in a new position, i.e. instead of cradling him, place him on your lap, with his feet on your belly and head in your hand, facing you.
- Or, face baby away from you, and place Dad’s tee-shirt or a tea-towel between you and baby, to mask your scent.
- Don’t overlook the cheap bottles. They have worked well for many babies.
- Try, try and try again. Give it a good effort~ at least eleven attempts.
Good luck! I have known many friends that have gone through this and I know how hard it can be. Have patience and ask others for help.
Please leave your own tips and advice in the comments for other readers to find.
To see more solutions to common parenting challenges, be sure to read: