Help! My baby won't take a bottle!

"My breastfed baby refuses to take a bottle."

"I've tried 28 different bottles and my baby hates all of them!"

"I can't leave my baby because they only nurse."

newborn care in Maryland

First off, you are NOT alone! Many babies have a strong preference for either breast or bottle, which is sometimes (wrongly) referred to as 'nipple confusion'. Your baby is not confused; he realizes that the flesh of your breast is not the same as the silicone bottle nipple. But one is more comforting, or easier, or more familiar or faster than the other. 

Remember, babies are humans too! We all have preferences and opinions, some of us are just better at communicating than others.  

If you know you would like your baby to take a bottle during their first year, plan to do the following:

  • Introduce a bottle between 1-2 months old

  • Offer a bottle every other or every third day for a few weeks

  • Use the slowest flow nipple available

  • Have someone other than mom feed the baby

Our postpartum doulas have lots of experience in helping older or more 'picky' babies to willingly drink from a bottle. Here are some of our tried and true tips and tricks! 

  • Have mom take a walk or head to the store solo to remove the option to breastfeed

  • Offer bottle at first sign of hunger cue

  • Ensure bottle is warmed to body temperature

  • Follow paced feeding guidelines

  • For younger babies, hold mother's worn/dirty shirt over your arm/chest for a familiar scent

  • For older babies, try sitting baby on your lap, facing away from your body

  • Offer a toy, book or sing a song as a 'distraction'

  • Change up where you offer the bottle- try sitting outside!

Most of all, be patient. We are happy to help work with you and your child to make bottle feeding a reality in your household!