How To Convince Breastfed Baby To Take A Bottle

It’s you and your babe. You’ve gotten this nursing thing down pat, and you are your baby’s number one. If she could talk her very favorite thing in the world would be breastfeeding. It’s warm milk on tap, on demand, a closeness with her mama and warm snuggles to follow. You love it too- but may be dying for just one second… or a few hours to yourself. That’s okay, Mama! You are allowed to remember that part of you before you became a mom. Maybe you want to go to yoga class, or wander the mall or meet a friend for a cup of coffee. Or maybe you are heading back to work. Either way, you need an alternate way to give your little one your breastmilk while you are away. You’ve pumped, built a freezer stash of milk, now how do you get your babe to drink it? Read on for some tips on convincing your breastfed babe to take a bottle.


Start early

Don’t wait for the night before you head out on the town to attempt a bottle. As babies grow, they also grow preferences, and waiting may lead to a big “no thank you” to the bottle. As soon as breastfeeding is established and rolling on, offer a bottle. It doesn’t have to be daily, but maybe a time or two per week will help your baby “remember” that she doesn’t mind the bottle.


Don’t wait for hunger

When introducing a bottle, don’t wait for your baby to be hungry. A hungry babe will be way less tolerant of trying new things, such as the bottle! Instead, offer it 30 minutes or so before her usual feeding time. If you missed that window and she is hungry, nurse her first to take the edge off, then try the bottle.


Try a different position

Don’t hold your baby in the same position that you do when you are breastfeeding. She knows that when you hold her that way she breastfeeds. It is confusing when you don’t and then expect her to try the bottle. Instead face her away from you or on your lap facing you. This will help her know it is something different, and she won’t be startled when it is. Motion can also help, walk gently around the house, with her facing away from you with the bottle. This little bit of distraction can help her be more willing to try something new.


Experiment with bottles

The bottle aisle at the baby store can be overwhelming. It may take more than one try to find a bottle your baby prefers. Don’t buy multiple of one kind until you are sure that’s the one! Try a slower flow nipple at first and make sure you put the nipple in her mouth level. Don’t tip it way up as she is more used to the nipple being pointed closer to the roof of her mouth. Drip a little breast milk on her lips and in her mouth so she understands there is warm breast milk in that contraption she has not seen before!


Try dad

Sometimes a different face can have better luck with a bottle. Especially if baby is older, she associates mama with breastfeeding. Dad may be able to convince her that the bottle is okay, and it may become an enjoyable, bonding experience. It is empowering to dads knowing they can feed babe too when you’re away.


Don’t try to hard

This can take time. If baby isn’t liking it, don’t force it, but don’t give up completely either. Wait until tomorrow and give it a go again. Forcing a baby to drink from a bottle can create an aversion. Instead be patient. If your baby is older than six months, you may skip the bottle altogether and jump to a sippy of breastmilk. Same thing- experiment with different styles till you find your little one’s favorite. Be patient, and take smaller outings (a couple of hours) sans baby until she gets the hang of it!