When Your Breastfed Baby WON’T Take A Bottle

One of the most frustrating things for a new mother who is getting ready to go back to work, or those who stay at home but simply want a break, is that of a baby who simply will not take a bottle. Most mothers have the opposite problem, the baby wants to ONLY take the bottle and not the breast.  However, you would be surprised how many babies there are that simply refuse any bottle, of any kind. Now you may think that is flattering, after all your baby adores you so much that he/she wants nothing else but the comfort of your breast. I agree this is beautiful, and makes mom feel like a million bucks….most of the time, but even she needs to have a moment to breathe.

All new moms agree, that although breastfeeding is a natural, beautiful thing, sometimes momma just wants a moment to herself, something that you ABSOLUTELY deserve! Motherhood is great, but you need your alone time too, and  a little private time with your partner as well. Date night? What is that???  I remember being a new mom and the thought of heading out to the store for one whole glorious hour seemed like heaven…even if it was just to CVS. But, if you have a baby that absolutely refuses to take a bottle…this is super stressful. You feel stuck, trapped, and sometimes alone.

If you are getting ready to go back to work, the stress of a baby not taking a bottle sky rockets, after all you are on a time crunch, and baby just isn’t having it! Stress is the worst think for your milk supply as our stress hormone cortisol is the mortal enemy to oxytocin, the hormone responsible for making milk. Stress levels rise, our milk supply hits it’s demise….so lets avoid that shall we? Here are some great tips to help your little bundle of joy, take that first bottle!!

Step 1:  FINDING THE RIGHT BOTTLE:  This could be an expensive trial by error scenario. However, you want to find the bottle that is going to be most similar to the breast. Babies are more “flow oriented” then “nipple confused”. So you want to get a wide mouth bottle. The brands I usually recommend are Tommy Tippy, Playtex nurser, Como Tomo, Advent, Kinde, Breastflow, just to name a few. It doesn’t really matter which bottle, just as long as it is a silicone, wide mouthed bottle, with a slow flow. Start with one, offer it several times in a row, if it doesn’t work then move on to the next.

Step2: It needs to be someone OTHER THEN MOM that gives that first bottle. If mom is the one to offer the bottle, the little one is going to smell the milk on mom and want the “breastaurant” vs. a bottle. So have dad, grandma, auntie, anyone else that is not mom give that first bottle. This is an excellent time for momma to leave the room, go get a pedicure, or hey even take that much needed and desired shower. Not to mention this is a great time for dad or grandma to bond 🙂 Regardless…mom needs to leave. If the baby can smell her or see her, he won’t want to participate as easily.

Step 3: Make sure you are feeding the baby in the breastfeeding friendly way to bottle feed position. For instructions on how to do that, visit my article: “The Breastfeeding Friendly Way to Bottlefeed”

Step4: If baby is being really stubborn, try wrapping one of mom’s shirts or nightgowns, that she just recently wore, around the bottle. This will have momma’s scent on it, and may encourage the baby to feed.

Step 5: WHITE NOISE:  This is one of the best inventions ever. I call it my magic wand. There are many white noise machines and apps out there, I usually recommend “The Sound Sleeper app” as it is free. For those of you who are less tech savey, a good old fashion blow dryer, vacuum cleaner, static of the TV or radio, anything really, but it must be loud and near the baby. This will calm the baby neurologically, allowing them to eat more peacefully.

Step 6:PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE!!!  This isn’t going to be the most smooth transition, so the key is that you be patient and consistent. I promise you, your baby is not going to starve himself. Yes he will protest, and will probably go hours on end without feeding, but I am telling you eventually the kid will eat. Babies are smart, and stubborn, but they aren’t self destructive. Sooner or later your little one will eat. It just takes time and patience.

Step 7. CONSISTENCY!  You have to be consistent.  Try offering the bottle every hour, or every 30 min, for at least 5 minutes or so. If they baby screams, and fights, stop, wait, and try again in 30 min. You don’t want this to be a huge struggle ( I know, I know, it already is) but we want this to be a positive thing. When you first start introducing the bottle (usually around 3-4 weeks) I recommend that it is in place of one feeding, and be consistent with that particular feed. For example every day the 5pm feeding is a bottle. This way the baby is in a routine, which babies need. Kids of all ages strive on routine.

Right now it may seem overwhelming for you, but if you stick with it, your little one will eventually relax into his/her new routine. Now that the baby is taking a bottle, make sure that you are keeping up with your milk supply by remembering to pump in place of. When you go back to work, make sure you pump every 2-3 hours, both breasts preferable at the same time, with an electric pump, for 15 minutes.

Hopefully this will give you a little bit more freedom to return back to normalcy. Hang in there mom and dad, it gets easier, and you are doing a wonderful job!

Copyright© 2014 Danielle Gauss,IBCLC – JustBreastFeeding.com. All Rights Reserved

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