How To Get A Breastfed Baby To Take A Bottle

Trust me when I say this, you're not alone - most breastfed babies refuse everything but the real deal at first but with time and patience, they will get it. 

If you're planning a few hours away from your breastfed baby, an evening off night feeds or a night away with your partner, here are some of the most common questions asked and answered when it comes to encouraging breastfed babies to take a bottle. 

When should you give a breastfed baby a bottle?

It depends really, some parents choose to give a bottle for many reasons such as going back to work. In general, if breastfeeding is fully established the most recommended time to start giving a breastfed baby a bottle is around six weeks old. 

Why might my baby refuse a bottle?

A bottle is a completely foreign object to them, it can feel alien to them and they can't work out how to use it. Breastfed babies create a vacuum and compress their tongue and jaw to express milk. When using a bottle babies use their cheeks instead to suck the milk out. 

Does it matter what bottle or teat I use?

In most cases, it doesn't and many lactation consultants will agree. However, it is recommended to match your teat to your nipple shape. For example, if your nipples are flat don't use a bottle with a long teat. You will want to invest in a shoulderless bottle. How To Get A Breastfed Baby To Take A Bottle

What should I do if my baby won't seal their lips around the bottle?

When getting a breastfed baby to take a bottle, let them explore the bottle first to see if they will seal and suck the bottle. If not you may need to teach them. Your baby might be confused and will need guidance on how to successfully take milk from a bottle. Support your baby's mouth by gently squeezing and holding their cheeks with the aim of showing them they need to use their cheek muscles instead of their jaw and tongue. 

Is there anything else can I do to help my breastfed baby take a bottle?

Mum needs to make herself scarce. Your infant knows milk comes from you and may not understand why you can't give the milk. For this reason, it is recommended to get your partner or another caregiver to give your baby a bottle while you go for a walk or maybe a quiet coffee. 

Also, feed on cue. Once baby begins to stir, it is important you prepare your babies bottle before they become restless. You can also customize your milk by placing it in boiling water to heat it up, making it the same temperature they have always had it.  

And remember, just like with breastfeeding, learning to drink from a bottle is a skill that needs to be learned and some babies take longer than others to master it. Some babies take to a bottle with no issues while others don't get it the first time so it is recommended that you try again and again.

Kellie Kearney

Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of five kids aged newborn right up to nine. She loves coffee, cloth nappies, travel and sharing her every day true to life family moments on Instagram.

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