Author Topic: Tips for getting your breastfed baby to take a bottle  (Read 140427 times)

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Offline RachelC

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Tips for getting your breastfed baby to take a bottle
« on: June 23, 2006, 00:00:55 am »
Here are tips that have been accumulated over the years from members.  If you have another one that is not listed her, please PM a moderator and (s)he can add it.  Best of luck to you!

*Be positive and approach the feed "knowing" baby WILL take it from you.  Baby will sense your confidence.  If you get stressed or negative it will /can fail.

*Remember that baby is not refusing the bottle on purpose.

*Sit your baby on your lap and talk to him, “It is time for your bottle.  Look how yummy" etc.  Keep the positive talk.  Stress and negative vibes can be felt by your baby.  Take deep cleansing breaths and keep reassuring yourself and your baby.

*Remember, your baby will not starve herself (though the "cold turkey" approach that Tracy describes in her books is not generally recommended for smaller babies anymore).

*In Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, Tracy suggested using the Haberman feeder ( so that baby only got milk when she was feeding in a similar way to breastfeeding.  She suggested holding baby close, like when breastfeeding, and having your fingertips on her face to provide the skin-to-skin contact babies get when breastfeeding.  Tracy also advised walking with the baby if she fussed during the feed, and 'jiggling' her a tiny bit.

*VERY warm milk

*Start on breast or pacifier or finger then slip the bottle in after a minute or two..

*Cut out the distractions!  No TV, dim the lights, etc.

*One day, at about 9 wks, I gave her nothing but bottles of ebm.  The first bottle took an hour, with problems.  She only took maybe 2 oz.  Since she was on a roughly 3-hr schedule for feeds, I made her go the 3 hrs until the next feeding (she was REALLY hungry.)  Bingo!  She took the next bottle with no fighting, and downed 4 oz. in 10 minutes!  The third bottle that day was actually her first trial of formula.  Again, no fighting, and she took 3-4 oz. very efficiently.

*Hold baby in the crook of your leg (my left foot resting on my right knee) so that she's not right next to the real thing

*Tickle the roof of her mouth with the nipple and then lift the bottle up

*Feed in a different place/room (i.e., bouncy seat, car seat, high chair, your bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc)

*Many suggestions have been to begin before 6 weeks and often

*Try different bottles/teats.  Look at your own nipples and try to find one that matches the shape of your nipple when baby is feeding

*Let your baby put her hands around the bottle herself.

*Try a sippy cup, maybe without the stopper (so there is no sucking needed).

*Try a straw style sippy cup.

*Start when baby is not hungry, perhaps 30 minutes after a bf to get used to the nipple and the bottle.  Eventually offer for a feed.
*Use a nipple with the same shape as the pacifier.

* Be persistent.

*Have someone else offer the bottle, and take the time to go out and do something for yourself (so you don’t hear the battle, if there is one).

*Try it cold (if teething they may prefer something cold).

*Mommy has to be out of the room where baby can't see or hear her.  Daddy gives the bottle; take off his shirt and strip baby down to her diaper when he feeds her so that she gets the skin-to-skin contact that she gets with Mommy. There are no distractions and he gently talks to her while feeding her and lightly bounces her while she is cradled in his arms. 
*Get them used to the taste of formula by dripping formula into their mouths.

*Drip the milk from the teat so that they know it is the source of food supply and keep doing this until they latch on.

*Hold down both hands so that they can't push the bottle away.

*Put it in the corner of their mouth rather than the middle and rest it on their gum.

*Try and calm baby down from real screaming with cuddles then try again.

*If weaning to formula, try mixing EBM with the formula.  Make the formula first (so water to powder ratio is correct) then add EBM.  Try ¼ formula and ¾ EBM.  Slowly adjust the ratio of formula to EBM until full formula.

*Start at an early feed.  Baby will be more hungry and perhaps more accepting.

*Stand in front of a mirror so baby can see himself.

*Give the baby the bottle for 5 minutes, then take a break for 20 minutes, try again for 5 minutes and after that, nurse. Do this 2 times a day for a week.  Make the 5 minutes fun and set a timer so you’re not watching the clock.

*Offer the bottle (with only an ounce in it) right before every daytime feed (no need to get the bottle out in the middle of the night!) with a calm, positive attitude.  If baby won't take it, put the bottle away and nurse as usual (breast milk can be used again, although not repeatedly -- guidelines here: ).  When I did this with my dd1, it took about two weeks of consistent (before every daytime feed) offering before she started taking it. 

*A very gradual approach described here: From breast to bottle: a gradual weaning method
« Last Edit: May 09, 2013, 01:42:50 am by Erin M »

Proud to have breastfed for a combined total of 35 months

Offline ~ Vik ~

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Re: Tips for getting your breastfed baby to take a bottle
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2010, 18:52:15 pm »
Here is a small collection of ideas and success stories from the support thread

* If I gave her breast till she was almost asleep but with eyes closed I could then sneak a teat in while I was breastfeeding. If she opened her eyes she would still freak but after persevering every feed, after 3 days she would take the bottle.

* I'd been trying for months to get DS to take a bottle and everyone kept saying to try different nipples and bottles. Finally found the right one after 6 different types! Just keep trying!
Tip: if your baby takes a paci then try to find the nipple that looks like the end of that.
For me: Paci was AVENT and the matching nipple was Playtex orthodontic latex-(the kind that go in the bottle with liners: the "old fashioned 1970's" ones).

* Make sure the nipple part is warm, too. And DS also likes the milk very warm.

* What worked for us:
Put her in the bouncy chair, sat on the floor beside her.
She could still turn her head away and didn't feel trapped like when she was sitting on my lap.
Tried a bottle of EBM everyday. Only 1 ounce at a time. Threw gallons away, sniff.
Did it in the afternoon after her second nap. (Now she takes it anytime.)
Rubbed a drop of maple syrup on the nipple after warming it up with very hot water. (Honey is not recommended because of botulism, corn syrup or jam could work too)
Used Playtex slow flow silicone nipples on a four ounce feeder with disposable liners.
Put my face close to hers and the back of my free hand against her cheek.
No talking or she smiles and wants to play.
Re-warmed the milk and nipple every few minutes.
After every attempt I showered her with kisses and tickles. She began to associate the bottle with fun rather than torture.
I wouldn't breastfeed her after a failed attempt for at least 20 minutes. I did a diaper change, or played a bit or walked outside to distract her.
Keep trying! A lot of babies seem to go through this phase of rebellious independence. It's like they suddenly grew the brain cell that distinguishes boob from fake-boob. I hope this helps someone out there...

* Just wanted to share what finally worked for me, after a month of trying a couple of times every day.
  A few days ago I got him used to the idea of drinking formula first by giving him a little from an oral syringe (since he takes medicine from syringes anyway).
  The next day I used a few drops of my lo's vitamin d supplement on the nipple to encourage him to suck on it (he seems to love the taste). Since he needs 1 ml everyday anyway, I just used part of his daily allotment to make the nipple taste better.

* For 2 months, I tried to bf the dream feed and it never worked (granted, I never tried more than 4 days in a row at any one time).  In the meantime, he was also refusing a bottle.  One night, when he was about 4 months old, I decided to try to give ebm in a bottle at the dream feed time.  He took the bottle right away and downed the whole thing!  I tried this every night for a week and he continued to take the bottle every night at the df.  After that week had passed, I gave him a bottle through the day to see what he would do and he took it no problem and continued to from that day forward.  I think he couldn't figure out how to use it and his mouth just learned what to do when he was relaxed and asleep and it translated to the daytime as well?

* Just want to share my success story in getting my LO to use bottle. I have been breastfeeding for 11 months now. I had tried to introduce bottle to DD at 7 months to prepare for weaning her later, she absolutely hates it. She would push and turn away. I did not force her too much, just on and off trying to give it to her with different liquids each time. Nothing works, tried prune juice, apple juice, milk and so on. I was about to give up, and think that I should just train her to use cup instead.
Just 2 days ago, I tried to give her milk in the bottle again. I 'naughtily' added a bit of sugar in the warm milk. I did not hold my hope up too much. Well, bingo! She initially bites the nipple like usual, playing around. Then she started to suck 'a bit' when she tasted the sweetened milk. After that, she finished the whole bottle, and followed by "yummie, yummie". I think that she had a very nice experience with the sweetened milk; she actually accepted the bottle straight away. Now, I do not put any sugar anymore, she still gulp down all the milk without complaints.
(*please note that adding sugar to the milk is not generally advised due to the potential of tooth decay*)
D ~ dairy, egg, peanut/nut and mustard allergies
Proud to have breastfed for over 24 months!