How to Get a Baby to Take a Bottle

image001Babies don’t accept change easily, and the change they like least is missing out on their breast feeding time in favor of a bottle. Bottle refusal is a common reaction; babies refuse to feed from a bottle when they are already accustomed to breast milk. Unfortunately, mothers today don’t have much choice in the matter. No matter how invested they are in nurturing their child, mothers are often forced to return to work shortly after giving birth. In such situations, bottle refusal contributes further anxiety to an already frustrating situation. There are a few effective tricks about how to get a baby to take a bottle that will relieve your burden.

How to Get a Baby to Take a Bottle

1. Time It Right

Remember, every baby lives on a different timeline and some take a long time to adjust to change. Breast feeding is what is natural to babies so it is crucial that you take time easing them into a new feeding system. Make sure you have established a breast feeding regime first and wait for at least a month before you introduce the bottle. You don’t want to damage your milk supply in favor of bottle feeding too early.

Make sure that you time your feeding well so as to continue encouraging the baby to feed from a bottle. Try to feed the baby a little earlier than his regular feeding time on a daily basis. Wait for your baby to be hungry and ready for food, but not so hungry that he throws a tantrum when you try to bottle feed.

2. Experiment with Bottles and Nipples

Your baby may not be refusing all bottles, just the bottle you use. Some babies protest more about soft bottle nipples while others feed better when they can chew on the nib. Experiment with different bottle shapes, vent systems and nipple textures to decide which one your baby responds to well. Experienced professionals may help choose a bottle nipple for your baby based on her teething and sucking habits. Experiment with bottle nipples and shapes until you find a nipple that matches what your child is used to and heat the milk according to the baby’s preferences.

3. Find the Perfect Bottle Shape and Temperature

The finest way to deal with bottle refusal is to make bottled milk seem as enticing as breast milk. Many babies are fussy about bottled milk because it doesn’t resemble their mother’s milk in temperature or flow rate. You have to make the bottle feel and taste as similar to breast milk as possible. Try bottle feeding immediately after pumping milk to see if the baby refuses. It’s possible that if the temperature of the bottled milk is the exact same as breast milk, the baby will be happy. As for stored breast milk, run it under warm water to a proper temperature before feeding it to your baby.

4. Have Someone Else Bottle Feed Your Baby

A major reason babies refuse the bottle is because they smell and sense their mother near them. They cannot understand why they are not being fed their usual way and thus reject anything new. Have someone else bottle feed your baby for a change; someone experienced and gentle will make the baby feel more comfortable with the bottle and take his mind off your presence.

5. Try a Better Position

This also depends on the baby’s eating and digestive habits. To make it easier for the baby to accept a bottle, it is best to avoid the traditional breast feeding position. Instead, strap the baby into a chair and tip the bottle horizontally up while keeping eye contact. The milk will flow easily and the baby will feed more easily. Alternately, you can also lay the baby on your chest in a vertical pose and feed him from behind. This will let the baby look around the room and keep his attention diverted.

6. Make Bottle Feeding Comfortable Instead of a Struggle

There is a chance that your baby is refusing the bottle because she associates it with difficulty eating and dissatisfaction. Observe how you feed your child. If she keeps pushing the bottle off, don’t force it on her. Instead, take it away and comfort her until she calms down and you can try again. It is important that both you and the baby are relaxed while bottle feeding, so take a break if she continues to refuse.

Note: Don’t succumb to breastfeeding immediately. If your baby realizes that she will be breastfed as soon as she rejects the bottle, she will resort to bottle refusal every time. Distract your baby; keep trying with the bottle. Only when you have no choice left should you take a step back, take a 10-15 minute break and then begin breastfeeding.

7. Add Sweetener upon Your Pediatrician’s Approval

If the baby refuses the milk on the basis of taste, adding sweetener may prove to be helpful. Many mothers avoid adding sugar to their milk due to health reasons. Some mothers add a touch of sugar to the nipple before the baby feeds, others choose to warm and sweeten the milk first. Also, trick the baby into bottle feeding by letting her suckle on you for the first few moments and then replace it with the bottle. By the time the baby begins to feed, she may not notice. You have to get your pediatrician’s approval to do this because adding sweeteners can cause tooth decay.

8. Try Other Items

Sometimes, you need to try new items before you introduce the bottle. If your baby associates milk with breasts, then she may respond more positively to something else in the bottle. Try juice a few times; once she begins to accept the bottle, switch the juice with milk or a half-milk half-formula mixture.

If even switching liquid fails, take it slower and feed your baby with a spoon or syringe. It may just be about introducing a change of some sort; be patient and start with small items until you can work your way up to the bottle once again.

Watch this video to gain a better understanding of how to get a baby to take a bottle:

9. Skip to a Sippy Cup

It is possible that a baby may never truly warm to the idea of drinking out of a bottle. Bottle feeding often seems like a less satisfying version of breast feeding, while a sippy cup is a completely new experience and many infants appreciate it.

If bottle refusal becomes a long lasting and persistent problem, try sippy cups or buy sippy cup lids for milk bottles. They are easily attachable and the baby will become familiar with the bottle too.