Tips You Need When Introducing A Bottle to Baby “Late”

If you are introducing a bottle to baby and baby is refusing, these tips can help you successfully introduce a bottle to your baby.

Baby drinking from bottle on a white blanket

I know there are many moms out there who just never got around to introducing a bottle, or introduced a bottle and things went well, but mom let it go, thinking things were good. Then one day you need baby to take a bottle for whatever reason, baby refuses, and you panic.

Whatever the reason for waiting to introduce a bottle, introducing a bottle late can be a problem and you need solutions.

Why Give a Bottle When You are Breastfeeding?

If you are breastfeeding, I recommend you give your baby a bottle on occasion. For both of my oldest two kids, I gave a bottle of formula once a week. This way, they were accustomed to both the bottle and the taste of formula.

I did this because you don’t know what the future holds. I breastfed Brayden for a year and did the same with Kaitlyn.

You never know if you will lose your supply. You never know if you are going to have some sort of emergency and need to go away. You never know if you simply need some sanity back and want to go shopping or something through a feeding while your spouse or someone else takes care of the baby.

With my youngest two, I just didn’t take the time to introduce a bottle. It was harder to find the time with older children to take care of. Neither of them would take a bottle, and fortunately we never had to turn to it.

What Age is ideal?

The timing of when to start is debatable. I have read to not start before a certain age because the baby will find it easy and reject breastfeeding, but if you start too late you risk the baby refusing a bottle all together. 

Brayden’s first time was about a week old. No problem. Kaitlyn was a few weeks old and it took her a long time to get the hang of it. She hated it and didn’t eat well from it until she was about 4 months old.

I think most babies like to breastfeed and breast milk is a lot better tasting than formula. You will have to decide for yourself if you want to, and when you want to.

Tracy Hogg, the author of Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, suggests introducing a bottle three weeks or younger (see page 122) even if you are breastfeeding. 

How To Introduce A Bottle Late

Tracy Hogg has some good suggestions for introducing late in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.

  • Nipple Type: Find a nipple that closely resembles mom’s nipple. Once you find one she likes, stick with it (pages 126-127). Brayden and Kaitlyn used Avent, which I liked a lot.
  • Nipple Flow: Experiment with nipple flow. (page 127) If your baby takes 20 minutes or more to eat, she will likely need a slower flow. If she eats in less than 10 minutes, she might need a faster flow. If she is somewhere between, try both 🙂
  • Beginning of Day: Start with a bottle for her first feeding of the day when she will be the hungriest. (page 127)
  • Never Force: If he won’t take it within five minutes, stop and try later. page 128
  • Keep it Warm: Run warm water over the nipple to get it warm like human flesh (page 128)
  • Try Every Hour: For the first day, Hogg suggests you try every hour. I think I wouldn’t do that unless it is imperative baby takes a bottle. If you are going back to work, on vacation, or need to wean, this might be a good idea. If not, I would just wait until the next feeding or next day. (page 128)
  • Other People: It is common advice to have someone other than mom feed the bottle. Some say mom can’t even be in the house. Hogg says once baby is adept at the bottle, be sure mom offers it, too, to offer flexibility. I have found that my babies actually take the bottle better from me if they are being stubborn about it. Perhaps it is because I am more stubborn 🙂 (page 128)
  • Expect and Ride Out a Hunger Strike: This is common advice all around. If baby won’t eat, don’t nurse. Baby will not let herself starve. Again, if you are really needing baby to take a bottle, this is a good approach. If not, I don’t know that I would let baby go hungry unless we had been working on the bottle for a long time.
  • Give Bottle Once a Day: Hogg says to feed a bottle daily. If you are a long-term breastfeeder and plan to breastfeed for a long time yet, this is very inconvenient. I find that feeding a bottle once per week is often enough to keep baby practiced. (page 128)
Bottle to Baby Late Pinnable Image


Here are my tips for introducing a bottle:

  • Pump First: When I am introducing the bottle, I always pump an ounce or two and feed it to baby. I do it right before the feed so it is fresh.
  • Bottle First: I give the bottle to the baby before the breast so baby will be hungry
  • Timing: I actually don’t do the first feed of the day. I pick one that is calm for me so I can pump and focus on feeding baby.
  • Persevere: If baby refuses to take it, I keep trying for a while. Don’t just drop it at the first refusal. I like Hogg’s 5 minute rule. 5 minutes is a long time in baby time.

If you are reading this and have either a young newborn or a baby who takes a bottle well, keep it up! Don’t let it get to the point that you need to employ these tips.


I wanted again to point out that I think it is wise to introduce your baby to a bottle even if you fully intend to breastfeed for a year or longer.

You never know what the future brings. You could need to be away from baby. You could get pregnant and find that nursing while pregnant is just too taxing. You could lose your milk supply. You could require surgery and be on medication that isn’t safe for baby. You could suddenly need to travel without baby. Really; anything can happen.

If baby already takes a bottle, it will make any of these stressful situations a little easier for all involved.


18 thoughts on “Tips You Need When Introducing A Bottle to Baby “Late””

  1. Thank you for posting on this! I want to let all moms know how important it is to keep up on the bottle. i did not and now my 7 month old will NOT take one at all. I am training her on the cup. She was losing weight and my milk supply was going down (which I am working on). It would have been a lot easier to deal with if I would have consistantly given her a bottle from the begining. She took the bottle at the begining so I didn't think it would be an issue but it was. Keep giving the bottle so that you have the flexability to leave her with other people!

  2. I am like Megan above…my nearly 6 month old son would rather die than take a bottle. We are going from breast to a sippy cup, but it's a process. With my next child, I totally plan on starting with the bottle from day one, and offering it at least 1-2 times a week. I really can't be away from Jack for more than 3-4 hours because of this and certainly can't miss bedtime. That makes having girls night out or attending my evening Bible Study pretty much impossible. So glad you posted this!

  3. We have the opposite problem in our house. I give my daughter a bottle once a day – for the dreamfeed. She has taken a bottle in the church nursery, and a couple times from our two baby-sitters. However, for the longest time, she outright REFUSED to take the bottle from my husband on the one day a week that I worked. She would scream everytime he tried to feed her – after an hour of trying each time, he would end up using a medicine dropper to get a couple ounces in her until I got home. This has gradually gotten better in the past couple weeks, but she is still not thrilled when he tries to feed her. Isn't that weird?!

  4. I couldn't agree more! We introduced a bottle at 4 weeks of age with my DD, and she took it like a champ. We did it twice weekly for a few weeks, and had such success we slacked off. I had to be away one evening when she was 2 months old, and she REFUSED the bottle my DH was trying to give her. It was a long process of about a month of trying EVERY DAY with different bottles and nipples, etc to get her to accept it again. We finally found that the latex orthodontic shaped nipples she liked, but they were REALLY hard to find.

  5. I'm with Sarah and Megan – my 6-month-old won't take a bottle and we're training her on the cup. She'll sip out of a regular cup but hasn't gotten the sippy cup figured out (she tries to "nurse" from it with the up and down jaw action of nursing – with and without the valve). I give her small sips of water to practice because I don't want to waste breastmilk. She's messy sipping from the cup, half of the liquid dribbling down her chin. I'm hoping once she gets it down, I can feed her breastmilk in the cup and I can be away longer than 3 hours. We're still trying!

  6. I'm so bummed–I was thinking about using the Adiri bottles with my next LO, but saw on their website today they have gone out of business. So sad! Hopefully there are still some at the store and I can stock up before they run out!

  7. Thanks for your thoughts, too, Amy and Diana! Diana, she is still young. You can try having her practice with water in a sippy cup once a day, also, if you are interested in that.

  8. I am having absolutley no luck getting my 5 mth 3 wk old to take a bottle. He has refused one since around 3 mths. We have tried all bottles/nipples, other people feeding him, etc. I think the only option would be a "nursing strike". I have lots of questions about this though. I do want to continue breastfeeding, so once I "strike" how long before I offer the breast again? Will he go back to refusing the bottle? How long can he go without a feeding before it becomes dangerous? How does the strike work exactly? Do we keep offering every hour? Does someone else other than me offer the bottle? I fear it will be a long time before he takes the bottle. I dread this so much. My husband and I are wanting to take a vacation in 2-3 months but don't want to plan anything until we know he will be ok with a bottle. Part of me wonders if it is even worth it but I know it is so important to have that time to reconnect with your spouse. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  9. Erica, I haven't ever done that so I don't have any useful tips for you. One thought is by now, you can try asippy instead. Another option would be to wait until you wean from bfing before taking a vacation. In the meantime, you could go on dates after your last feeding. You can also get creative about dates at home. Good luck!

  10. I am in the same situation as Erica. I have tried EVERYTHING – all different kinds of nipples, bottles, sippy cups, etc. He would rather die! Even have had others try. He is 6 months old now and I have to go back to work this week or next week and I am desperate! He took a bottle ONE time, at 4 months, but that was at the hospital because he had refused to eat for 15 hours, breast or bottle, and must have been hungry enough that he took it. But now he will go 10 hours without eating. he is so stubborn! I have heard horror stories about babies whose mom's went to work and they just didn't eat during the day, for 10 hours, because they refused the bottle. And he isn't even giving a cup a chance yet. He is not a good eater in general. Not good with baby food, refuses bottle or cup, and is not good on the breast. I have to fight with him to get him to breast feed after 5 or 6 hours. In fact, he can go all night without eating and still wake up and not eat in the morning until he has been up for several hours! Help! I'm desperate! Has anyone else had this problem and had success?!

  11. Hi! Thank you for this blog. I have been following it for months now, and it has answered every question, but I've finally hit a road block that I cannot figure out.I have been exclusively breastfeeding. My baby is 4 months old.We got on an awesome schedule of feeding every 4 hours at 3 months. She was doing great on the breast. Then at 3 1/2 months, when I started back to work, she was given bottles regularly, and did very well bottle-feeding too. Towards the end of 3 months, she started to refuse the breast for full meals. So I began pumping to supplement every meal, as she preferred the bottle. For the past few weeks, she became finicky about the bottle too. She will only eat if she is starving, period. For example, this morning (8am) she took my breast for about ten minutes and refused it and the bottle for anymore milk. She napped an hour and awoke at 9 and refused the bottle again until 11a when she was finally ready for another nap and ate one ounce from the bottle and fell asleep. This will continue all day, until the end of the day (around 5 or 6) she will be so hungry, she will just start screaming and it becomes impossible trying to feed her 8-10 ounces in just a couple hours before she passes out. She was STTN for over a month, but now she wakes every night because she isn't eating enough during the day.I have been trying to get her back on schedule, so we have found the only way to give her an adequate amount of milk is to put our finger in her mouth for a bit and then slide the bottle in her mouth, and then she will eat happily for about 4 ounces in one take. But once I take the nipple out of her mouth, she will refuse to take it again. Even when I know she is very hungry, she will only get fussier and fussier and refuse the bottle completely. Thank you for any advice.Laura V.

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