Have you ever found yourself needing to introduce a bottle to your newborn baby? Yeah, it is not easy. That little bundle of joy will kick, fuss and do all manner of gimmicks to make sure that the bottle does not find its way into its mouth.
The fuss will be more severe if you are introducing bottle to a breastfed baby. The baby’s brain is already conditioned to accept nothing else but your breast. How do you overcome this challenge?
If your baby falls into the category of those kids who won’t take the bottle come shine or rain, do not panic. With practice and patience, the breastfed baby will take a bottle.
We’ve decided to make a a list of useful tips that will help your child take a bottle!
Introduce a Pacifier
A pacifier is a great way of introducing bottle to a breastfed baby. By introducing your baby to a pacifier early enough, there is a significant likelihood that they will not throw a fuss when the time to graduate them to the bottle comes. By the time you introduce a bottle, your baby is already accustomed to sucking an artificial nipple. Perfect!
There are various kinds of pacifiers in the market today. They are made of latex, silicone or hard plastic. Latex Pacifiers are the softest and closer in feeling to the natural nipple. However, if you think that your baby has a latex allergy, you should avoid them.
There are various factors that you consider when settling on a pacifier. Consider your baby’s age. The smaller and softer pacifier are appropriate for children under six months. For kids between 6-18 months, the medium pacifiers are more appropriate while the large ones are suitable for kids above 18 months.
The shape of the pacifier is also an important factor to consider. The baby wants something close to the nipple in shape. Go for those with a narrow tip and a wider base.
To avoid nipple confusion, introduce the pacifier when the baby is at least one month.
Choosing the right bottle and nipple
Babies are conscious of where their milk is coming from. If the bottle does not feel like a real breast, the baby might be all fussy about it. There are different types of bottles and nipples on the market today. They are of different colors, shapes and made of different materials.
If you realize that the type of bottle you are using is not working, opt for another kind. Before you settle on one bottle, you will have to try quite a few. You might have to spend a significant amount of money buying bottles and end up with a whole shelf of them. However, when you find one that works, it will be worth the effort.
What works for one child may not work for another. Breast-like bottles work well with younger children while those that look nothing like the breast work well with older children.
If your baby is on a pacifier, go for a nipple that is similar to the pacifier. If the pacifier is latex, go for a latex nipple. If it is silicon go for a silicon one. The familiarity will make it easier for the baby to take the bottle.
The nipple you go for should be appropriate for the baby’s age. If the nipple gushes milk into the baby’s mouth, your child might choke. Similarly, if the nipple does not release enough milk, your baby will be frustrated. You do not want this to happen. The wrong nipple will make the experience stressful. Your child will associate bottle-feeding with dissatisfaction and struggle. They will form a negative attitude towards the bottle and may never accept the bottle.
Read our article about the best bottles for breastfed babies here! *COMING SOON*
The best time to introduce baby to the bottle is right after they have been breastfed them. Why, you might ask?
A hungry baby is a cranky child. You want to introduce your baby to the bottle when they are jovial. This should be approximately 3o minutes after breastfeeding them. At first the baby may just chew or suck on the nipple. Count that as a good sign. In the process, the milk will be released.
Many parents make the mistake of waiting until the baby is hungry. They assume that the child will be left with no option but to accept the bottle. To their surprise, the baby goes on a hunger strike!
If you intend to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby, try to establish a regular feeding routine in the first month. When the time comes to introduce it, try to offer the bottle at around the same time you breastfeed them. Do not break the routine.
You should also not try to bottle feed the baby when they are tired or sleepy.
Use expressed milk
At the age of one month, your baby has established their tastes. Anything that feels different from what they have been used will be reason for a fussiness. Your best bet is to ensure that what is coming from the bottle taste as close to breast milk as possible. Do not rush into using formulas. Instead, start with expressed milk.
Sometimes a breastfed baby not taking bottle can be because what is coming from the bottle is different from what they have been used to getting.
Play around with different temperatures to establish one that your baby prefers. Some children are very sensitive about the slightest change in temperatures. Store the expressed milk properly. The milk can remain fresh for up to six hours at room temperature, up to a day in an insulated cooler, and up to five days in a fridge.
If the mom is spending time with the baby, use freshly expressed milk. Children dislike frozen milk.
Hold the baby in a different position(s)
If you hold your baby in a particular position when breastfeeding them, the chances are that their brain has been conditioned to associate the position with breastfeeding.
Though your baby accepts a bottle from someone else when held in a position similar to breastfeeding, they might not accept it from their mum. In that position, the baby expects nothing else from the mother but to be breastfed. Try holding the baby in a different position when bottle- feeding them.
There is no position that is best. Whichever way you decide to hold them make sure their head is elevated above the rest of their body. Holding the baby in a position that brings them close to you is helpful. It offers a sense of security. You should consider a position that allows for eye contact. It helps emotional development positively.
You can also try holding them with their back on your chest as you feed them from behind. This gives them the chance to look around the house. It distracts them from the bottle. You can also sit the baby in an infant chair, and bottle feed them there.
Once they have been used to taking the bottle, you can go back to holding them in the same position used when nursing.
Offering the bottle in a place that does not remind the baby of breastfeeding, increases the chances that they will gladly accept the bottle.
If your baby is breastfed in a particular location in the house, the child will associate that place with breastfeeding. When you offer the bottle in that same location, they will be grouchy about it. In that place what they expects is to be breastfed. Try offering the bottle in a different location.
You can try offering the bottle at as you walk around the house this will provide distractions. You can try it during a bath, out in the park or when taking a walk in the yard.
Stop bribing the baby
When your baby gets upset about the bottle, the parent’s first instinct is to breastfeed them. What this does is condition the baby to crave for breastfeeding whenever they throws a fuss. The child will associate the refusal of the bottle with breastfeeding.
Instead of breastfeeding the baby immediately, calm them down. Try to distract them and walk around the house for a while then try the bottle again or breastfeed them if they are starving.
When you are offering the bottle, make it sound like an award. Your baby can read your emotions. Be confident it is the right thing to do. When the baby detects doubt in your voice, they will not be enthusiastic about the bottle. Encourage your child to take it and even sing some sweet songs to them.
Take some time away from the baby
If your breastfed baby refuses bottle when their mum offers it, they might accept it when offered by someone else in their mother’s absence.
Your child develops a strong bond with the mother before birth. At around seven months of the pregnancy, they can already hear her voice. At birth, they can recognize it. At about three days, they have mastered their mother’s unique scent. They can smell the mom 50 feet away.
Your baby can detect their mother’s presence, and whenever they do, they expects to be breastfed. They get grumpy about feeding on a bottle. They have learnt that mummy is the one who feeds them when they are hungry and comforts them when they are cranky.
Let the dad be the one to offer the bottle. This will provide him a perfect opportunity to bond with the child. If the baby still refuses to take the bottle even when left with the dad, he should try spreading a recently worn blouse across his chest. When the baby smell’s their mothers scent, they might accept the bottle. He can also try putting on their mom’s bath robe.
Alternatively, try a nanny or someone who has some experience bottle feeding.
Trick the baby into taking the bottle
If your breastfed baby won’t take bottle you can trick them into doing it.
With prior approval of the pediatrician, you can add a sweetener to your baby’s milk. This is helpful especially if your baby refuses bottle milk based on taste alone. Some parents also add a touch of sugar on the nipple to trick the child into sucking on it.
Alternatively, you can trick them by switching your nipple for the bottle as they suckles. Allow them to suckle on your nipple first then slowly remove it and slip in the bottle’s nipple. They might not notice the difference. The best time to try this is when they are falling asleep.
You have to be consistent if you want your breastfed baby to accept a bottle. Try offering the bottle at the same time you breastfeed the baby. If the baby won’t take it, do not push, back off and try again later. You do not want to make this a huge struggle.
Offer the bottle every one hour or after 30 minutes for at least five minutes. Do not try to push the nipple into their mouth. Just place it on their lips and encourage them to open the mouth and take the nipple on their own.
Maintaining the consistency can be overwhelming. With time, however, you will get hold of it. A routine will be established, and your baby will eventually accept the bottle.
What happens if you try all the above tactics, but still your breastfed baby won’t take bottle? What do you do? Should you just give up or continue forcing them to take the bottle? You shouldn’t give up. There are a few more things that you can try
Many breastfed babies who refuse the bottle accept drinks from a cup. However, compared to the bottle, training your kid to drink from a cup takes longer and can be a little messy at the beginning. Don’t worry. With time, the baby will get hold of it. You can try using a straw if the milk spills so much.
Some parents have also reported success using a syringe. They purchase a regular syringe from the pharmacy and use it to drip the milk into the baby’s mouth. After that, they slowly introduce the bottle.
Getting a breastfed baby to accept the bottle is not a walk in the park. It requires patience and practice. If your baby does not take the bottle, do not give up. Keep trying and keep practicing eventually you will succeed.