Baby Refusing Bottle? Tips to Bottle Feed a Breastfed Baby

Is your baby refusing milk from a bottle? Have you too been looking for bottle-feeding tips for your infants? Or have you been searching through the internet – how to get a breastfed baby to take a bottle?

To a parent of a newborn, these problems may seem floor shattering but in actuality, this is a process of growing for the babies. The transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding can be like travelling on a bumpy road, one that you must take. And the only thing one can do is to try and make the transition smoother. And even after that, bottle feeding baby can need some more effort to actually get used to the bottle. So if you are looking for ways to ensure that your baby gets used to bottle or if you wish that your baby never refuses the bottle, you have come to the right place. Read on to know how to bottle feed a baby and how you can avoid your baby refusing the bottle.

How to get a breastfed baby to take a bottle

There are certain things that you must keep in mind while planning to make your breastfed baby take the bottle. Some of them are mentioned below. Follow these to bottle feeding tips to make sure that your baby starts bottle feeding easily.

1. Introduce the bottle at the right time

You certainly do not want to get your baby to get used to breastfeeding only. Therefore, it is necessary that you introduce the bottle to your baby at the right time. Too late or too soon, neither is going to be correct. It is also important that you wait till breastfeeding has been established for both, your body and your dearest baby. This takes about three to four weeks. Therefore, a suitable time for introducing bottle feeding to your baby is when they are about four weeks old. If the mother has to head back to working outdoors, you can make sure that you start with the bottle feeding minimum ten days before going to work so that both, the mum and the baby have enough time to adjust to it.

2. Make them familiar with the bottle nipple

The transition from mom to a bottle can be difficult for the baby. Your baby has to adapt to using a different style of sucking in order to drink from the bottle as opposed to the mother. And this is why it is of utmost importance for your baby to get used to the bottle’s nipple. How do you think you can do it? Here is a simple way. Pick a time when your baby is well rested and is in a happy mood, say after one breastfeeding session. Start by putting a very small amount of milk into a bottle and then offering it to your baby. Let the baby play with the bottle’s nipple and get familiar with it. You can also try to dip the nipple in breast milk so that your newborn starts getting a taste and thus ends up wanting to latch on for more.

3. Choose a breastfeeding-friendly bottle

MAM Easy Start Self Sterilising Anti Colic Starter Set

Okay, this is one of the most important tips. Remember that the type of bottle and nipple you choose for feeding your baby can play a huge role in determining whether your baby will accept it or not. It would be best if you choose the one that mimics the breastfeeding experience for your baby as closely as it is possible. Try the latch bottles that are well known and have been recommended by other moms and are specifically designed in order to simulate breastfeeding for babies who have to switch from breast to the bottle and then back again. Another thing to look for is that the nipple has a slow flow so that it doesn’t flood your baby with milk. This is also required to make sure that it releases milk at the same rate as the breast does. You can get one of the anti-colic bottles as they have proper latching and have correct flow as well.

4. Use Paced bottle feeding method

Paced bottle feeding is probably the revolution in the bottle feeding game. Paced Bottle Feeding is actually a method of bottle feeding the infants that allows the babies to hold more control of the feeding pace during the bottle feeding. This feeding method slows down the flow of milk into the nipple as well as into the mouth, thus allowing the baby to consume more slowly, and also take breaks. The paced feeding method reduces the risk of overfeeding that sometimes results in causing discomfort to the baby. This feeding method is especially recommended for any baby that receives bottles, be it fully bottle-fed, or fed in combination from the breast and a bottle. 

How to Pace Feed

If you are wondering how you can use the pace feeding method, relax because here we are to help you with that too! You can follow the given way for paced bottle feeding as suggested by the American health advisory. Follow these steps to pace feed your baby.

Step 1: Start by choosing a small bottle (around 4 oz.) along with a slow flow nipple.

Step 2: Hold your baby into your lap in a semi-upright position. Make sure to support the head and the neck while doing so.

Step 3: When your baby starts to show hunger cues, tickle the baby’s lips to have them opened along with the mouth opened wide.

Step 4: You can now insert the bottle’s nipple into your baby’s mouth, and then also ensure that the baby has a deep latch with the nipple.

How to Pace Feed

Step 5: Keep holding the bottle flatly horizontal to the floor.

Step 6: Now you must let your baby start sucking the nipple without any milk. After this, let the bottle be tilted just enough to fill the nipple almost halfway with the milk.

Step 7: Let the baby suck for about three to five continuous swallows which generally takes 20 to 30 seconds.

Step 8: After these 3 to 5 continuous swallows, now tip the bottle down for giving your baby a little break.

Paced Bottle Feeding

Step 9: After some time-a few seconds, when your baby starts to suck again, tip the bottle up again in order to allow the milk to flow into the nipple.

Step 10: Continue this process of Paced Feeding until your baby shows signs of fullness, that is no longer sucking after the break, or turning away or even pushing away from the nipple.

After a considerable number of days of Paced Feeding, your baby will start to learn to pace themselves. You will also notice them taking their own sucking breaks, and then later returning to feeding. To facilitate this, make sure to position your baby upright and hold the bottle in a flat position so that the baby can gain this control. 

Baby Refusing Bottle

When you start bottle-feeding your baby, there is a possibility that your baby might refuse it. Your baby might also stop drinking milk from a bottle suddenly. It is only natural to be scared when your baby denies being fed as keeping your baby well-nourished is every parent’s priority. Don’t let this add up to your worries. Here are a few reasons why your baby might be refusing the milk bottle and how you can avoid this from happening. 

Why do Babies refuse Bottle Feeding?

It is important to first know that your baby having a hard time latching to the bottle is probably not the right reason. It is obviously not the case that your baby is having a hard time getting the mechanics of bottle feeding. In fact, sucking from a bottle is a lot easier for the baby than latching onto the mother’s breast. A breastfed baby not taking bottle can be due to many reasons. Following are some of those.

  • Your baby might not be liking the feeling that an artificial nipple gives to their mouth.
  • You baby may be associating feeding so strongly with you that they do not want the bottle substitute.
  • It is highly unlikely but your baby may have had a bad experience with taking the bottle at all.

Tips to Avoid Baby from Refusing Bottle

Understanding the “why” of any problem often gives us a lot of direction for getting to know “how” to fix the problem. Therefore, having understood what could possibly be the reason for your baby refusing the bottle, here are a few tips using which you can avoid your baby refusing the bottle.

1. Have someone else to feed the baby

Bottle Feeding Tips

You must try having someone other than the mom offer the bottle. This actually does make sense since babies associate feeding with the comfort of nursing that they get from their mom. This tip sounds simple, but it can definitely make an enormous difference. The point here is that your baby can smell you and sense your presence even though they are tiny. When they know that you are around, they will always prefer you. Therefore, you should have someone else to feed the baby through the bottle. It is especially not a problem for mothers who also take help of caregivers and babysitters. Just make sure that you are not present around when the other person attempts to bottle feed your newborn.

2. Feed them when they are hungry – Not on schedule

It is a simple concept. When your baby is hungry, the resistance towards the bottle will be minimum as opposed to when the baby is not so hungry. Therefore, you may want to feed the baby using a bottle not as per a schedule but whenever your baby is hungry. This will also facilitate in making the habit of bottle feeding in as less time as possible. But you must remember that bottle feeding is a new experience for your baby and they may not possibly take it well if you offer them a bottle when they are starving. So it should be remembered that you bottle feed the baby at just the right time. You will obviously not want to try giving the bottle too early either, because if your baby is not hungry enough, they will not be motivated enough to take it. It shall take you some experimenting to find the right time at which your baby is hungry enough, but not too hungry. This totally could lead to bottle success.

3. Try different positions

How to Bottle Feed a Baby

This may help big time! It is actually different for different babies. Some babies prefer to stay at the exact same way to take a bottle as they do when you breastfeed them but it may not be the same for all kids, or your kids but always. That is why you will most certainly want to try different positions. Babies are unique when it comes to their preferred feeding positions. And these preferred positions for breastfeeding are usually different from those preferred for the bottle feeding.

4. Avoid any distractions

This point can not be stressed enough. While introducing bottle feeding to your baby, it is extremely important to minimize other distractions which may motivate the baby to refuse the bottle and pay attention to. That is the reason why going to a quiet, and relaxing location can make a big difference. Make sure that this is followed even when someone else is feeding your baby. Before there is an attempt to give your baby a bottle feed, the feeder must go to a quiet location for a few minutes and rock or sway the baby for a few minutes so that even they are nice and relaxed. With such a calm and gentle approach, a bottle feed can be offered to your baby easily with reduced chances of refusal to the bottle. 

5. Move around while feeding the baby

Again, it is different for different babies. But if you are attempting to introduce a bottle to your baby for feeding, moving around while feeding can be a great idea. Feeding your baby while you walk around the room and the baby gets gentle bounces and sayings may help some babies in taking the bottle. You might want to make sure that your movement is not too fast that the baby can not concentrate on feeding at all. It should not be extremely slow as to not make any differences either. Therefore, you have to find the right pace as well. Additionally, while moving around, make sure you do not take too many turns too often as it may adversely affect your baby’s ease of feeding.

6. Try matching the baby formula with your breast milk

Baby Refusing Milk

This may seem like a weird or tacky thing to do, but this is going to make a world-changing difference for your bottle game. Your baby recognizes your fragrance, and the taste of your milk and is obviously used to it. Therefore, if you are going to use a baby formula in the bottle, you will definitely want to make it as similar to your breast milk as possible. This includes the consistency and the temperature of the milk and its flow from the bottle. For controlling the flow, you must use the right bottle with a perfect nipple. There are many baby bottle makers in the market that will help in temperature control and also comes with a full kit for feeding your baby. You can check our review on Best Baby Bottle Makers in the UK to get the best ones.

7. Try different temperatures of milk

If your baby refuses bottle some times while they do not the other times, chances are that the milk temperature variations have been playing a role. Even otherwise so, alternating the temperature of milk can be helpful in avoiding baby’s refusal of the milk. Your baby may prefer warmed milk or milk on room temperature or cold milk. This choice may also vary with the baby’s growth. Therefore, it is important for you to experiment a little bit and see what your baby’s preference is. 

Another great way is to try different temperatures of the nipple as well. You can try warming the bottle nipple by putting it in some warm water before using it for the feeding or even chill the bottle’s nipple in the refrigerator before the feeding to keep it cooler than usual.

8. Change the bottle nipple

Bottle Feeding Baby

The trick here is to match the bottle’s nipple to as close as the mother’s breasts or to finding the right nipple that your baby is responding the best to. There is a large number of bottle nipples available at the baby stores which can even get overwhelming. But remember, there is no one universal “best” nipple. The best nipple for you is the one that your baby gets easily attached on and does not refuse to feed from. In the process, you must remember that the most expensive bottle or nipple may not necessarily be better than the less costly ones.

A general idea as to what to look for is a long and straight nipple instead of a short and flat one since the formers are easy for the babies to latch deeply on, just like they would to the breast. 

If you want your baby to breastfeed but you have to manage your work as well then you can use a nursing bra or a baby sling for breastfeeding.

Our Advice

Our final advice for you is to not panic. Your baby may refuse the bottle at first, and it is natural. It will not mean that you are failing as a parent (as most parents anxiously end up thinking). Do not think of it to be as complex as bomb diffusion or rocket science, because it is not. You just have to be careful about certain do’s and don’ts as mentioned earlier. Your baby will most definitely take time adapting to the bottle, and let them have it. Just make sure that it is not due to some external factors like your baby not liking the bottle’s nipple or your baby not adapting to the milk temperature. After all, good parenting is the one where the parent tries to minimize the problems for their baby while their dearest baby is growing up!

Laura is a trained primary teacher who takes a profound liking in interacting with and bringing out the best in children. She is also an ISSA certified pediatrician with an extensive practice of over 12 years. Laura comprehends the needs of infants and now compresses her expertise into writing thorough parenting guides to aid new parents.

Leave a Comment