8 Tips for Transitioning a Breastfed Baby to a Bottle
Having trouble getting baby to take a bottle?
Relax—this is a common problem new moms face. Most babies take time getting used to the newness and feel of a bottle. It’s important to stay calm and tell yourself this too shall pass—because it may take some time, but you’ll get through it! And remember, if you're introducing a bottle to head back to work—start early so you don't add to your stress about leaving your baby.
Offer freshly pumped milk. You want to be giving your baby the best they can get—but in small quantities, in case she refuses. We know you don’t want to waste too much of that precious breastmilk so make sure you know how to properly store your expressed milk!
Here are our top tips for getting an exclusively breastfed baby to take a bottle:
Try offering the bottle when baby is not too hungry. Think about it; it’s hard to learn anything new when we’re starving! When your baby is already stressed out and hungry, he’s not going to be interested in a feeding lesson. Wait until he’s already slightly satiated or at least not crying because he’s so hungry. We’ve actually found we have a good amount of success with sleepy babies.
Offer freshly pumped milk. You want to be giving your baby the best they can get—but in small quantities, in case she refuses. We know you don’t want to waste too much of that precious breastmilk!
Use a slow flow nipple and try "paced bottle feeding.” Make sure the bottle is more parallel to the floor versus straight up and down, and ensure there is milk in the nipple before your baby begins drinking. Let your baby root for the nipple versus sticking it in her mouth; you can even drip a little milk on her lips to start. And follow your baby’s lead; if she wants to take breaks, take them.
Change up the environment/ and/or positioning. If you always nurse in a glider, don't sit there for the bottle. Or if you use a nursing pillow, skip it. Holding your baby in a completely different way signals this isn’t the exact same experience as breastfeeding, so he may be more open to the bottle. You can even try bottle feeding when your baby is in a bouncer or swing—movement is a good distraction.
Don't force it. If either of you are getting frustrated, take a break and try again later.
Leave. Leave the room (or house!) and let someone else try. Your not being there is another signal to baby that this is a different experience from breastfeeding.
Bait and switch. Start with breastfeeding, and when your baby is relaxed and not so hungry, try offering the bottle.
Stay calm. Take deep breaths and remember: this too shall pass!
Check out our online classes:
Interested in working 1-on-1 with a lactation consultant via messaging, phone, or video? We’re here to help!