Judgment-Free Breastfeeding

What About the Bottle?


I am really lucky, I get to stay at home with my children so they don’t have to take a bottle. They go to work with me, so there is never a reason for it, although, there are times having the baby take a bottle would be nice, like when daddy wants to feed him.

Maggie didn’t care where the food came from, the girl just loved to eat. She preferred to be fed from the breast, but didn’t really care. Charlie man is a whole different story. He hates the bottle. We tried to offer it to him in the first few weeks, but he screamed!!! There hasn’t been a time when it was necessary for him to take a bottle, but during softball season, it would have been helpful if he would. There were a few nights when he had to nurse between innings…even though he ate right before the game started. Now, John is laid off so I thought it would be nice for him to feed Charlie. However, the bottle thing still wasn’t working, so I began researching tips and tricks to getting your baby to take the bottle. Here is what I have found.

Maybe the easiest thing to try is to have somebody else try to bottle feed the baby while mom is in a different room or out of the house.  Be sure to offer the bottle when baby is hungry but not over hungry.  Try holding baby in a different position than you would if you were breastfeeding the baby.  Try a variety of nipples and see what baby likes best.  Try different nipple flows, fast, medium, slow; and see what works best.  You can also try warming the nipple before feeding, or if baby is teething, you can try cooling the nipple.

If baby is refusing the bottle, wait a minute and try again.  Then try again.  If after 3 or so tries, baby still wont take the bottle, try again another time.  You don’t want to make mealtime into a battleground.  If you are going to breastfeed baby at this point, maybe hold off 5 or 10 minutes, and do something else to keep baby from associating their refusal of the bottle with getting to breastfeed.  You can also try spoon feeding baby some milk or offering it from a cup. Try offering the bottle when baby isn’t even hungry to get him/her use to the bottle.

Most important, and probably the hardest is to stay calm.  I know for us, John gets so worked up when Charlie gets upset, and then it really doesn’t work.  He will fight and fight and fight and maybe take one suck, then start screaming and repeat.

I have heard somebody suggest pumping before offering the bottle so that if he refuses the bottle and tries to nurse he will realize there is no milk and be more willing to take the bottle.  I can say with certainty that there is absolutely no way I would try this, but it may be the answer for some people.

Keep in mind, there is no right way to get your baby to take a bottle.  Every single baby is different and you are the parent – you will know better than anybody else what works for you and your baby.  Be patient and be positive.  Remember your baby isn’t refusing the bottle to upset you.

I know that we should keep working on it and getting Charlie to take a bottle of breastmilk, but I just don’t feel like it.  If John decides that it’s important and he wants to push it, then we will try some things.  So far, we have simply offered it to him, I have, John has, my cousins babysitting have.  To be completely honest, I am secretly a bit happy.  This way I don’t have to answer all of the questions of family members who want to feed him and would just grab a bottle without asking me and feed him.  It’s my special way of being able to steal my little guy back when it’s time for him to eat.

Did your little one struggle with taking a bottle?  What tips and tricks worked for you and your baby?

About Shannon Stubbs

I am mommy to Maggie, my very entertaining almost 2 year old, and Charlie, my brand new little man. I work from home as a real estate agent and take the kids with me on appointments. In my free time....okay, not free, I make the time, to blog about life, my amazing little ones and our family life. I enjoy reviewing products and giveaways on my blog. I am a very laid back mama who finds entertainment just about everywhere. The only time I am away from my babies is when I play softball once a week during the summer. Blogging is my main interaction with the adult world some days.

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Katie says:

My daughter (nearly 9 months) refuses to take a bottle. We have tried nearly every trick there is, except pumping beforehand, I think that it a bit cruel. Initially, when I was going to go back to work relatively substantially, this was very stressful. But in true attachment parenting style, I tried to think of it from my baby’s perspective. Nursing is comforting and her resistant cries are trying to tell me something. I realize that I’m very lucky to be able to come home from work (at a local college) when it is feeding time. It also helps that I live so very close and my necessary work times are generally less than 3 hours.

So, no luck with the bottle for us, but we have just decided to work with it instead of fight it. Overall, we have a great system.