Tips to Get Your Baby to Take a Bottle

By Janelle Turk

January 20, 2020

Janelle is a mother of 4 beautiful children, RN, sleep coach, lactation counselor and prenatal coach. She has a passion for working with new Mamas and easing the transition into parenthood. She believes in the value of qualified and professional support with zero judgement attached. "It's only a problem if it's a problem for you"!

Trying to get your baby to take a bottle may sound simple enough, but if we are being real, It can be so dang hard sometimes! The reasons vary from not wanting to breastfeed, not being able to breastfeed, needing to go to work, needing a night away, illness, a weekly commitment outside the home, etc. No matter your reason, its ALL good Mama! Let’s get that babe FED! I’m going to share some tips on how to get your baby to take a bottle, it can be trying, but if you are persistent and patient it can happen.

RIGHT BOTTLE

Choosing the right bottle is very important, but the reality is that it is going to be a lot of trial and error to find one that works well for your baby. I recommend asking friends if they have a favourite, or maybe one that you could borrow to try out. Sterilize the bottle and you are good to go. There are so many bottles to choose from, just dive in and try a couple!

RIGHT NIPPLE

Most breastfed babies under six weeks old will use a slow flow nipple. This is because at the breast they have to work a bit harder for their milk. A slow flow nipple will require a bit more work as well and mimics the breast. If your babe isn’t breastfeeding, then you could start with a slower flow, and see how they react. If the baby is older than 6 weeks and seems frustrated or frantic then try a slightly faster one and see what their reaction is. If you have a fast, strong let down you may need a faster flow nipple, as this is closer to what the baby is used to. Another consideration is the shape of the nipple. Your best bet is to start with the one that is similar in shape to your own breast if you have been breastfeeding. If you aren’t breastfeeding a great place to start is with one that is narrow at the tip and gradually widens toward the base of the nipple. This will help baby latch on and their lips to flange out around the nipple without
slipping down the nipple.

RIGHT TEMPERATURE

You want to make sure that the milk in the bottle is warmed enough that when tested on the inside of your wrist, you don’t feel it. You want it to be body temperature, ideally. Never use the microwave to warm the bottle as it can create hot spots in the milk and scald the baby’s mouth upon feeding. It can also help to warm the nipple before feeding, by running it under warm water. This helps it seem more like the breast and more appealing to the baby.

RIGHT POSITION

Most babies will need to sit at a 45-90 degree angle in your arms. Then you hold the bottle parallel to the floor, tilted enough to fill the nipple with milk. If this more traditional version isn’t doing the trick, don’t be afraid to get creative and try walking around and distracting the baby while feeding, or try while in the stroller, or facing away from you, rocking. Every baby is different, so don’t be afraid to try new positions and find what works for both of you.

RIGHT PERSON

Some believe that babies won’t take a bottle as easily from their mother if they are used to being breastfed. This can be the case, but don’t rule yourself out. Mama, you should try, you are someone your baby knows and trusts and will be relaxed around, so you may just be the ticket to a successful bottle feed! If you try and babe wants to breastfeed instead, then it may be a good idea to try someone else.

RIGHT TIME

It is important to try introducing the bottle when baby is hungry, but not starving. If baby is over-hungry and struggles with the bottle, he is going to get very frustrated very
quickly. Try to time the feed for the half-way point between feedings. Another way to do it is to start breastfeeding baby and switch to the bottle after a few minutes. You may have success when baby is drowsy, as he may be less aware and less stimulated by the new feeding method. Keep your sessions short, ten minutes max, and then try again another time. If you are consistent, persistent and patient your success rate will be better.

Keep in mind that a bottle isn’t the only other method of feeding beside the breast. Depending on the age of your baby you can syringe feed, finger feed, spoon, cup, sippy cup, etc. If there is a will there is a way! Be kind to yourself, Mama. If trying to get your baby to take a bottle is overwhelming you, please reach out for help, or hit pause and regroup. If you are wanting help with feeding your baby reach out to The Mama Coach in your area for a consultation, we are here for you and your family! Most importantly remember that feeding your baby is the most important thing, not how you feed her. Remember, YOU GOT THIS MAMA!


If you would like support with feeding – reach out to a Mama Coach in your area. We are happy to help!

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