Inside: How to get a breastfed baby to drink from a bottle – tips that really work! I was asked by Carusele to participate in the #NURSHOnAmazon campaign, sponsored by Boon on Amazon.
When Your Breastfed Baby Won’t Take a Bottle
I’ve breastfed all my girls, and if you’re a breastfeeding mama too, then you know that it keeps you pretty tied down. Babies usually nurse every 2-3 hours (and sometimes more when they’re in a growth spurt), so you’re always “on call.”
However, sometimes mama needs a break — or a night out — so your baby needs to take a bottle.
My youngest daughter took to her bottle like a champ the first time we tried. It was about a month after she was born and my mother-in-law offered to babysit so my husband and I could go out to dinner. The only problem with the bottle feeding was that my baby girl thought there wasn’t enough in it!
However, the next time Grandma babysat was a different story. “She got so mad at the bottle!” My mother in law explained, obviously exhausted from attempting to sooth a grumpy, hungry baby for a couple hours.
From that point on, our stubborn little sweetheart decided that the bottle was not an adequate substitute for mom, even though the milk is the same.
Realistically, there will be times that I need to be away for more than an hour or two, so we needed to figure out how to get our baby to take a bottle again.
How to Get a Breastfed Baby to Drink from a Bottle
If your breastfed baby won’t take a bottle, first of all, don’t panic.
Even if your baby took to a bottle in their first few days or weeks after birth, it’s fairly common for breastfed babies to prefer their mom and even reject bottles later on.
The good news is that even if your baby hasn’t been drinking from a bottle, with a little work and the right tools, you can get your breastfed baby to drink from a bottle again.
Here’s what worked for us:
1. Practice Often
Our first mistake was thinking that since our baby took a bottle once, we were good to go.
Just like anything else, bottle-feeding is a skill that requires practice. If you don’t use it, you lose it!
Experts recommend practicing feeding your baby with a bottle at least 1-2 times per week. That way when you actually need to use the bottle, your baby will be used to it.
I set aside extra pumped milk each week that my husband can use to practice bottle feeding while I’m at yoga class or running errands.
2. Get the Right Gear
If you want to set yourself up for bottle feeding success, you need to make sure that you have the right equipment. Two things that will make the process easier:
- The right bottle
- A foolproof bottle warmer
Our Top Bottle Choice: Boon NURSH® Silicone Pouch Bottle
There are SO many different bottles available — how do you know which to choose?
I’m going to save you a little time here. With both our middle and youngest daughter, we tried quite a few bottle brands and types. Most were total duds.
Actually, our daughter acted offended by almost all of the bottles we tried!
However after a lot of trial and error, we finally found a bottle that works!
The Boon NURSH® Silicone Pouch Bottle features a nipple shape that’s modeled after mom, designed to encourage the perfect latch.
NURSH bottles also have a sturdy silicone pouch that collapses as your little one drinks, squeezing out any extra air. This helps prevent colic (and if you’ve ever tried to sooth a colicky baby you’ll be super thankful for this feature!)
Since there are no complicated vents or valves, NURSH bottles are a breeze to clean and sanitize! The 100% silicone pouch can be boiled, sterilized, microwaved and frozen — then reused again and again.
Our Bottle Warmer Pick: The First Years 4-in-1 Remote Control Bottle Warmer
With our middle daughter, we warmed bottles the old-fashioned way — heating up a pot of water and letting the bottle sit in the water until it reached the right temperature.
However, this requires that you plan ahead, because a hungry baby doesn’t like to wait 20 minutes for a pot of water to boil!
Also, the old fashioned way doesn’t work well if you’re traveling, because you need access to a stove.
This time around we tried a new strategy — a bottle warmer. Specifically, The First Years 4-in-1 Remote Control Bottle Warmer.
Why, oh why, didn’t we discover this miraculous invention sooner?!
Instead of taking 10-20 minutes, you can have a bottle ready in less than 5 minutes!
First, place your bottle in the unit with the included ice packs — they can keep the bottle cool for up to 8 hours — and fill the water reservoir. When you’re ready to warm your bottle, simply set the timer, and voila!
Plus, there is a handy guide that shows you the perfect time for the type of milk and size bottle you’re preparing. It takes all the guesswork out of the process!
There’s even a remote so you can start the bottle warming as soon as you hear your baby wake up at night, before you even get out of bed!
You’ll be able to use The First Years 4-in-1 Remote Control Bottle Warmer for quite a while, because not only does it heat up baby bottles, but it can also be used to warm up baby food jars!
3. Don’t Wait Until They’re Hungry
It might seem counterintuitive to feed your baby before they even act hungry.
However, when a baby doesn’t like to take a bottle, you want to make the experience as least stressful as possible.
If your baby is hungry, then they’re already stressing. Add in a strange bottle (that’s not mom), and your baby may get fed up pretty quickly.
When practicing your bottle feeding, try it at a time that your baby has room in their tummy, but isn’t yet showing signs of hunger or crying.
You want them to be in a good mood, and to be open to eating when you offer the bottle.
4. Try the Pacifier Switch
When I was researching ideas to get a breastfed baby to drink from a bottle, the “pacifier switch” is one of the suggestions I discovered.
The premise is simple:
- Give baby a pacifier to soothe them and initiate the sucking reflex.
- Once baby is content and vigorously sucking on their pacifier, remove and replace with your prepared bottle.
- Baby is already sucking, so the milk goes into their mouth and they are drinking from the bottle before they have a chance to fight it.
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical, but I gave my husband these simple instructions to try when I left the house for a couple hours.
When I returned home, my husband said that it was their most successful bottle feeding attempt yet! While she hadn’t finished the entire bottle, our daughter did drink a good bit. Most importantly, she was still a happy baby when I got home!
With more practice (see step 1), I think we will be well on our way to getting our baby to drink from a bottle consistently and happily.
Do you have any tips that helped you get your breastfed baby to drink from a bottle? Help a mama out and share in the comments below!
I was asked by Carusele to participate in the #NURSHOnAmazon campaign, sponsored by Boon on Amazon. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.