How to Get Baby to Take a Bottle

Even if you're planning to exclusively breastfeed, at some point you’ll likely need some pointers on how to get baby to take a bottle. “I tell my clients to introduce baby to a bottle once breastfeeding has been established, which depends on each mother-baby dyad, but on average, it’s around one month,” A baby care expert says. “Even if they’re not planning to regularly bottle-feed, doing so can give peace of mind if an emergency comes up, and can also be a way for mom to get a break.”

 

Some babies take a bottle no problem—after all, sucking is an instinctive reflex, which is why bottle-fed babies tend to get the hang of it in the first few days of life. But other breastfed babies may initially be reluctant to take a bottle. And sometimes breastfed babies have no issue taking a bottle when they’re one month old, but if a bottle hasn’t been regularly offered, by 3 or 4 months of age, they’re less happy to accept a bottle. Bottle resistance is pretty common, but luckily there are some tried-and-true tips for what to do when baby is refusing a bottle.

 

Offer often.

  • Even if you’re breastfeeding, The  expert recommends giving baby at least one bottle a week, once breastfeeding has been established. “That way it’s part of their routine, so they’re less likely to resist it,” she says.


Don’t offer it when baby is starving.

  • If you’re regularly nursing your infant,the expert suggests offering a bottle in between nursing sessions. “If they’re too hungry, they may be too worked up to take a bottle. If they’re calm and not super hungry, they may take it,” she explains.

 

Let others try bottle-feeding.

  • Some moms have success leaving the house and allowing their partner to try feeding baby a bottle. Again, try it at a time that’s not baby’s “must-feed” time.

 

Don’t get frustrated.

  • If baby isn’t taking the bottle, the expert suggests putting it down and trying again later rather than forcing it, which can make both you and baby upset.

 

Ask for help.

  • A lactation consultant can suggest some techniques to help get even the most resistant bottle-feeders to accept a bottle. They may check your infant’s mouth and tongue for any latch problems that could contribute to the difficulty, suggest the best bottle for your infant, troubleshoot any behavioral issues or offer alternate nutritive methods, such as cup- or syringe-feeding.
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