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Breastfeeding: When Your Baby Won’t Take a Bottle

Posted by Lake Health Lactation Consultants on Dec 9, 2018 2:23:00 PM

Some breastfed babies refuse to take a bottle. Even so, with a little work and preplanning you should be able to get your baby to drink your breast milk from a bottle. Michelle Carlson, RN, IBCLC, certified lactation consultant, gives her top tips for transitioning your baby from breastfeeding to drinking pumped breast milk from a bottle: 

Breastfeeding with a busy schedule

Your baby quickly recognizes your scent and associates you with feeding—you are the real deal.

While having that bond with your baby can be one of life’s greatest joys, it can also present challenges. At times you will have to run errands or want to enjoy a date night with your partner or ladies night out with friends. You might also have to return to work.

That’s when you'll need your baby to take your pumped milk from a bottle.

How to introduce a bottle

The best advice I can give you is not to wait until you need time away from breastfeeding to introduce your baby to a bottle. After breastfeeding is established for 3 to 4 weeks, use a bottle once a day or every other day.

To help ensure success, use paced bottle feeding, which closely matches breastfeeding. Instead of holding the bottle upward and giving your baby 2 to 3 ounces of milk in 2 to 3 minutes, hold the bottle more horizontally. This will force your baby to eat slowly and work to get the milk, just like when he or she is breastfeeding.

Bottlefeeding Image

Let your baby pause while bottle feeding, just like when he or she is breastfeeding. Halfway through the bottle, change sides like you do when breastfeeding. Take breaks to burp your baby.

Paced bottle feeding helps your baby know when he or she is full, avoiding over- or under-feeding. It also lets the baby eat at his or her own pace, as compared with traditional bottle feeding, which can force the baby to gulp to avoid choking.

Involve your loved ones

Remember, you’re not in this alone. Have your partner and other family members feed the baby often so that your baby doesn’t rely only on you for food. This will be easier on your baby, easier on you and easier on those who are substituting for you when you are away at feeding time. 

Get support from other breastfeeding moms

If you have breastfeeding challenges or questions, we invite you to join our Breastfeeding Support Group. Bring your baby and meet other moms. The group offers great peer support and expert advice from a certified lactation consultant. We host morning and evening sessions.

For information about our breastfeeding support services or a list of resources, click here or call us anytime with questions:

Lake Health Lactation Center

Monday–Friday, 8 am - 4:30 pm: 440-354-1929

Breastfeeding Helpline (24/7)



Topics: New Moms, Parenting, Breastfeeding