What to do when a breastfeeding baby refuses to take a bottle

Breastfeeding your little one is going very well. It seems you have the process down pat. But what happens when you return to work or are gone for a longer period of time and baby refuses a bottle? Below are a few tips to make the transition an easy one.

In an ideal world, breastfeeding moms and babies would never be separated from each other and moms would be available to nurse their baby for every feeding. Not only do many breastfeeding moms return to work but even stay at home moms have occasions when they are away from their breastfed baby. So what do you do when that baby refuses to take a bottle? Here are some suggestions:

It’s best to get breastfeeding off to a good start by exclusively breastfeeding and avoiding bottles for about 3 to 4 weeks. But don’t wait too long to offer a bottle so baby is still receptive to getting milk other than from the breast.

Mom should be away from baby and out of the house while dad or another caregiver offers baby a bottle. If dad is struggling, it can be helpful to have an experienced bottle feeder, such as grandma, offer baby a bottle. Have the person giving the bottle drape a t-shirt or nightgown that mom has worn across their chest so they still smell like mom.

Give baby freshly expressed breastmilk that hasn’t been refrigerated or frozen. Always warm up chilled breastmilk to at least room temperature or close to mom’s body temperature (never microwave).

Cuddle baby close to the chest, similar to being breastfed. If this doesn’t work, put baby’s back to the chest so baby isn’t looking at the person giving the bottle. You can also walk around while bottlefeeding baby.

Try different nipples, perhaps one similar to a pacifier if a baby uses one. There are lots of nipples to choose from and babies have opinions on what they like and don’t like. Wide based nipples are usually better.

Try offering a bottle when baby is a little sleepy and just starting to get hungry. Trying to let baby starve into submission is never a good option.

If baby continues to refuse a bottle, other options include finger feeding, using a cup, spoon, dropper, a hollow handled medicine spoon or sippy cup. Some of these are a little tricky and are best demonstrated by an experienced Lactation Consultant.

Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to call or email me anytime with your concerns. I am here to assist you in any way I can.

(402) 707-1696 or contact me.