Has your baby been refusing the bottle, whether suddenly or from day one? Overcoming bottle refusal is possible with these effective tips!
There’s no denying it: your baby hates the bottle.
He’ll sometimes take a bottle from you, but not from anyone else. Bottle feeding him has been miserable for your spouse or anyone who gives him a bottle, especially when it’s supposed to be a fun, bonding experience.
You don’t even feel like you can leave him with a different caregiver for fear that he’ll give whoever is watching him a tough time. It’s simply something you don’t feel comfortable putting either baby or adult through.
The irregular feeding schedule is messing with naps and overnight sleep, too. And despite spending a ton of money on every type of nipple and bottle, he still can’t stand any of them, no matter what.
How to stop your baby’s bottle refusal
Dealing with your baby’s bottle refusal is tough for even the most patient mom. He might’ve resisted the bottle from day one, refusing anything but breastfeeding. Or maybe he’d once taken the bottle—whether formula or breastmilk—like a champ, but now just drinks two ounces at most before pushing it away.
And when you’ve reunited with him once again, he nurses with you like he’s been hungry all day (and wakes up throughout the night to feed as well).
If this bottle refusal is stressing you out, rest assured you’re not alone, friend. He can take to the bottle once again, even if it takes a few creative strategies to get him to warm up to it. Take a look at these tips that can finally turn things around:
1. Warm the nipple along with the milk
Do you store milk bottles in the fridge to feed the baby later? She probably doesn’t like the feeling not just of cold milk, but even of the cold nipple that touches her mouth.
See what happens if you not only warm the milk bottle in warm water but the nipple as well. Make sure that the bottle is tightly secured, then lay the bottle on its side so that even the nipple is also warmed. That way, she isn’t sucking on an ice-cold nipple come feeding time.
Another option is to store the bottle in the fridge with a different bottle cover and keep the nipple at room temperature. That way, the nipple will be neither warm nor cold, and you can serve the milk regularly.
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2. Let your baby latch onto the bottle nipple
If you breastfeed, your breastfed baby likely roots around to find your nipple before finally drinking. Let her latch on the bottle nipple as well, which mimics this type of rootin. Don’t just put the bottle in your baby’s mouth, and instead let her “initiate” and find the nipple with her tongue herself.
There might be a chance that she doesn’t like having the nipple put into her mouth, but would take to it more if you, say, place it next to baby’s lips.
3. Offer a freshly pumped bottle
Most of us offer the baby a bottle because we’re not there to nurse. Unless you’re exclusively pumping, you probably don’t pump milk only to hand the bottle to the baby right away.
But in this case, it’s worth a shot to do just that.
Instead of storing the milk in the fridge, see if she’ll take your recently pumped milk in a bottle. Drinking warm, familiar milk might make her more likely to take to the bottle than if it were stored in the fridge for a length of time.
As she gets used to the bottle, she’ll hopefully then be more open to drinking stored milk as well, even if it’s not freshly pumped.
4. Feed baby more often
The biggest worry many of us have with bottle refusal is the lack of calories the baby is taking. After all, the more she pushes the bottle away, the less breast milk or formula she’s consuming. You worry she isn’t gaining weight, or that she’ll wake up throughout the night to feed.
Since she’s only willing to drink a few ounces at a time, see what happens if you feed her smaller amounts, but more frequently.
Let’s say she’s supposed to drink a four-ounce bottle in the afternoon. Try preparing bottles with only one or two ounces at a time, but feed them to her every hour or so. This is especially useful if she’s willing to drink from the bottle, but only in small amounts.
5. Feed earlier than usual
Have you ever tried to reason with a wailing toddler throwing a tantrum? If I had to guess, you weren’t able to get anything through her. The same can be said for wailing babies as well. If your baby is hungry and impatient about drinking from a bottle, she might feel more adamant (and vocal) about not doing so.
But see what happens if you feed her a bit earlier than usual, even by just 15 minutes. You might catch her when she’s not so hungry or in a bad mood, where she’s more willing to drink from a bottle.
A similar scenario is to offer the bottle before you feed solids. She might have less of an appetite for milk if she has already had solid food first.
6. Feed in a dark, quiet room
Some babies refuse the bottle not because of tears, but because of distractions. This is especially common as your baby grows more curious about her environment and wants to explore. She might even be more mobile and would rather spend her time practicing how to roll over than staying in one place to drink milk.
To reduce distractions, switch environments and feed her in a dark, quiet room. Keep the curtains drawn and the white noise on to muffle outside light and sounds. Keep quiet yourself so she can focus on drinking milk. With a “boring” environment, she has fewer reasons to distract her and more time to drink.
7. Try a different brand of bottle
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Even if you’ve already tried offering your baby a different bottle, it’s worth a shot to keep trying. So many moms have said that they reached a turning point once they finally found a bottle that worked for their baby. Take a look at these choices:
And if your baby truly doesn’t like bottles, you might even consider a transition sippy cup to encourage her to drink.
8. Feed in an upright position
Make sure you feed baby upright or at least at a slight angle, like in your arms or in an infant seat. Feeding flat on his back makes it more difficult to swallow and digest the milk he drinks, causing him to potentially spit up.
Instead, keep a slight angle during feedings to eliminate the discomfort he might feel. Breastfeeding baby might mean propping the arm carrying his head higher than the other, or angling his feet below his head in a football position.
Feeling worried because your baby won’t take a bottle is understandable. This is the way she consumes her calories, after all. And if you’re away at work, you feel even more helpless to do anything about it. Thankfully, now you know what to do if she refuses the bottle all of a sudden.
One trick is to warm the nipple along with the milk bottle (or at least keep it at room temperature). You can also let her “root” for the nipple instead of placing it inside her mouth. See if she’ll take the bottle of freshly pumped milk, and try feeding her smaller amounts more often.
Feed her earlier than usual to avoid stirring her up into an already bad mood, and do so in a dark, quiet room to avoid distractions. And finally, try a different brand of milk bottles—you just might find the one that she finally likes.
Overcoming your baby’s bottle refusal is possible—she won’t hate the bottle forever!
Get more tips:
- 9 Things to Do If Your Baby Goes on a Bottle Strike
- When You’re Depressed About Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave
- When Breastfeeding Hurts (Even with a Good Latch)
- 4 Effective Tricks to Handle Your Baby Not Drinking Milk
- When Can You Stop Burping a Baby?
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