Transitioning your baby to the bottle after breastfeeding can be difficult. Some babies take to the bottle well, but others have a harder time adjusting.
When your baby won’t eat from a bottle, it can be hard for everyone. Your baby gets fussy because they’re hungry. You get frustrated because you love them and you hate to see them unhappy. But don’t worry, there is help. If your baby is one of many who experiences a hard time switching from the breast to the bottle, then follow these tips to get your baby to take a bottle.
Newborns change and grow daily. Just because they don’t like the bottle now, does not mean they’ll feel that way about bottles forever. They will grow and develop faster than you can imagine, so don’t give up.
What didn’t work today might be the secret that cracks the code tomorrow. Consistent effort is more effective than finding one silver bullet that automatically fixes your problem.
Your baby can tell when you are stressed or feeling under pressure. When you stress out, your baby stresses out. Take the time to breathe and stay calm.
A fussy child that is hungry, angry, tired, and cranky is not going to do well no matter what you try. Choose a time when your baby is rested and happy to get them used to the bottle. During these times, use only a small amount of formula. Do not overwhelm your baby with a full bottle, and do not force them to eat.
If you are planning to switch to bottle-feeding, don’t jump to the bottle all in one step. Help your baby by introducing them to the bottle, the nipple, and the formula in steps. If the bottle seems foreign or strange to them, there is a better chance they will reject it. You can use playtime to start exposing your baby to the bottle to make them feel comfortable with it.
Try out different kinds of bottle nipples if one doesn’t seem to work. Bottle nipples come in a variety of sizes, flows, and shapes. You can find one that works best for your baby through trial and error
Find a bottle nipple that has a similar shape to the mother's nipple. This will help the transition because the baby will feel more comfortable with a familiar shape.
The flow of the bottle nipple is also an important factor to consider. Most bottle nipples will have numbers on them, which signify how fast the flow is. These numbers range from 1-3 (1 being the slowest and 3 being the fastest). If your baby is having trouble drinking from the bottle, try switching to a slower or faster flow nipple. Most breastfed babies will initially need a slow flow to match the flow of breastfeeding.
Not only does nipple size, shape, and flow matter when you are trying to bottle feed your baby, the size and shape of the bottle can change the experience as well. It can be overwhelming to try to buy something that might not work for your baby, but you might need to shop around to find the right fit.
Most competitive bottle companies will claim they are better than the rest, but it really comes down to your child’s preference. What might be the best bottle for one kid might be instantly rejected by another.
When you are trying out new bottles, don’t give up on a bottle after only one or two attempted feedings. Sometimes it takes a few feedings for a child to learn to love a particular bottle shape or size.
If your baby is accustomed to breastfeeding, then he or she is used to being held up against mom's chest. Try your best to maintain this same position when bottle feeding your baby. A good technique is to place the bottle where the breast would be and have the baby believe that he or she is breastfeeding.
Keeping the bottle and the baby close to you mimics the breastfeeding process and will allow your baby to feel more comfortable which may help them transition to the bottle.
Babies are smarter than you know. When a mother is nearby, the baby can sense her and may not want the bottle.
A good solution is to have other family members offer the bottle to the baby. In some cases, the mother may even need to leave the room or house during feeding time.
If your baby isn't taking to the bottle right away, try switching back and forth between the breast and the bottle during the middle of feedings. This will help develop the baby's feeding skills.
Over time, you can gradually make the transition from breast to bottle.
Pace feeding is a technique that gives the baby control over the feeding session so they can eat at their own pace. Breast milk is not instantly sprayed into the mouth when a baby is breastfeeding, so it can be overwhelming and offputting to your kid to switch to a bottle that does that.
To pace feed, your baby should be in an upright position rather than laying down. Feed based on the baby’s feeding cues rather than a schedule. Do not overfeed or force the bottle into the baby’s mouth. Allow your baby to eat a little bit from the bottle at a time. Let him or her suck on the bottle for a few moments and then pull the bottle away.
Do this a few times to mimic the pace he or she would normally eat at when breastfeeding. Even if the baby seems to be drinking it well, if the milk comes out too fast, it might be too much to consume all at once.
Try placing a few drops of breast milk on the bottle's nipple to coax the baby into sucking on the bottle’s nipple.
You can also allow your baby to play with the bottle's nipple in his or her mouth for a little while. Let your baby get used to it, even if this means allowing him or her to chew on it for a few moments.
Try warming the milk for longer or not as long to find a temperature your baby prefers. Always remember to check the temperature of the milk before giving it to the baby to ensure it's not too hot.
Your baby is young, and sometimes simple tricks like distracting them with a toy or even your keys can be enough to keep their mind away from switching to the bottle. You can also try singing, talking, having music play in the background, or reading to them as they eat. Anything to distract their attention away from the bottle can be just enough for them to not realize they’re using a bottle.
Babies can be picky eaters and not all formula will taste the same. You don’t have to try everything all in one sitting, but be willing to try out different formulas from a wide range of companies until you find one that they seem to like.
Your baby might cry. You might cry. Your neighbors might cry. But it’s okay. Don’t give up, even when it gets hard. You’re doing nothing wrong trying to teach your baby how to feed on a bottle.
Both you and your baby are trying something new, and it can be tough to balance the emotions and the stress of everything new at the same time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a break, step away, let your baby cry for a minute or two, and then come back once you have a clear mind. Your baby is just fine if they have to fuss or cry.
This is a process, and it will take time. You can do it.
Some parents will start to think that even though they’ve tried every tip or trick out there and their kid is still not doing things perfectly, it is somehow their fault. Do not blame yourself or get upset because everything is not going as you planned.
It’s not fun to watch your baby be unhappy or hungry, but you are doing your best and trying to help them as much as you can. Keep trying. Don’t give up.
These tips are just the start of what you can do. Your baby has a personality and quirks that are uniquely their own. What works for someone else might not work for you. Get creative and try out new plans, tactics, or ideas when finding your own solution.
With all of these amazing newborn baby bottle feeding tips, which ones will you try? Our team at Perry Mackin recommends going through the list and seeing what works for you and your baby.
Remember to be patient and give your little one time to make the adjustment. Eventually, your baby will be drinking from the bottle like a pro!