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