I added the words, “it’s not easy” to the title of this post because I didn’t want Moms to think that I had all the answers or that there is one way that works or that it is easy for a breastfed baby to take a bottle. Because none of those things are true. I’m sure for every one thing that worked for one mom there were 3 or 4 other things that did not work. And as always, what worked for someone else or what someone else swears by, might not necessarily work for you. Which is frustrating. And I get it. I’ve been there. But this is what worked for me and hopefully if you are struggling with getting your baby to take a bottle, one of these might work for you.
Getting a Breastfed Baby to Take a Bottle
Change of Position
If I place Grace in my arms and cuddle her towards me, she automatically assumes it’s time to nurse. So if I then offer her a bottle it’s like I’ve tricked her into thinking she was getting filet mignon and instead offered her dog food and boy does she get mad. So instead I sit her on my lap in an upright position when I feed her a bottle. Just by simply changing the way she is sitting it becomes a different experience and she’s much happier to take the bottle.
Give Them Time
A breastfed baby isn’t going to instantly latch onto a bottle like she does a breast, the two things are simply not the same. So just because a baby doesn’t instantly take a bottle doesn’t mean that she won’t ever take a bottle. Give the baby time. Let her try out the bottle. Try a few different angles for introducing the bottle to her mouth. If one bottle doesn’t work try another. Don’t get frustrated.
Distracted babies are awful nursers. When Grace it distracted it’s impossible to get her to latch for more than a minute. I tend to nurse her with the TV off and in a quiet room when possible. But for bottle feeding I’m all about distractions. I know TV is frowned upon with young kids but when your child has an older sibling it is basically unavoidable. For bottle feeding I sit Grace on my lap in an upright position and turn on some Sesame Street, which tends to distract her from the fact that she’s not being breastfed.
If you are supplementing with formula, use the pre-filled infant nursers and the nipples that come with them. These are the perfect size for babies and Grace has always taken these with ease.
The Right Bottle
Like most Moms who are trying to get their baby to take a bottle, I’ve tried lots of bottles. I tried the ones that worked when I had Jack and I tried ones that friends recommended. And while she would take them her latch seemed off and she was always leaking milk out of her mouth; it was a big mess. When I saw the Evenflo bottles I got excited because the nipples are small and very similar to those that come with the infant nursers that Grace already liked. These bottles were a game changer for us because Grace took to them easily and was able to get a good latch which meant no milk dripping down her face. The bottles come in glass, BPA-free plastic, angled and classic designs. I love the angled and vented bottles for when I’m feeding Grace and I love the Baby Boutique bottles which are perfect for her little hands to hold it herself.
I know a lot of the breastfeeding information says that babies can get “nipple confusion” if you start a bottle too soon. I’m not saying I disagree with this but I my doctor advised us to start a bottle early when we were trying to get Grace’s weight up during her first month. I think this really helped make taking a bottle easier for her in the beginning .
However once we had a good breastfeeding routine going, and she was sleeping better at night I gave her bottles less and less, which then made her resist taking a bottle. The girl is stubborn and she would rather wait for me to come back than take a bottle. Now I make sure to feed her a bottle a couple of times a week so that she remains comfortable and use to taking one. I tend to give her a bottle if we are out and there isn’t a convenient place to nurse her. Keeping her familiar with a bottle is important because it can be stressful to other caregivers when she won’t take a bottle.
Getting a breastfed baby to take a bottle can be challenging but for many moms it’s crucial for a baby to take a bottle. Whether Mom has to go back to work or she just wants to be able to leave her baby with a sitter, it’s important that she knows that the baby will take the bottle and be happy and fed while she is away. Moms are allowed a break and getting a baby to take a bottle is the first step in getting that break.
In full disclosure, I requested that Evenflo send me these bottles. Evenflo Feeding provided me with the bottles to include in a post. All thoughts, opinions and experiences are my own.