When your breastfed baby won’t accept a bottle

baby wont take bottle

One of the biggest questions I get during breastfeeding class is, “when can I introduce my baby to the bottle?’ And while the answer is different for everyone depending on their situations, there’s one thing that doesn’t come up enough: When breastfed babies reject a bottle. When that happens, it’s frustrating for moms because they feel like they can’t leave their babies, and it’s frustrating for dads and other caregivers because the bottle rejection can feel so personal. So, here are some things you can try if you’re in this situation.

Please note: If your baby is simply not eating anything in any form for a length of time, please seek immediate, appropriate medical care.

  • Is the milk yucky?–Sometimes I forget to ask moms if they’ve had a chance to taste the milk that they have pumped. Sometimes, the pumped milk, due to an excess of lipase (which we dont really understand why this is the case for some moms), can end up tasting or smelly soapy. Kellymom.com has a great set of instructions to help you make your milk more palatable if this is what you’re dealing with.
  • Try a different bottle–Not all bottle are created equal, and even the (unfounded) marketing claims make it hard to figure out what kind of bottle to use for your baby. What I usually tell moms is that usually simpler is better, and a wider bottle is better. No matter what, I’d discourage any mom from making the choice for kind of bottles without baby’s input. He or she will let you know what he likes. One note: It may seem like a faster flow nipple will be better, but if your baby is already leery of bottles, a fast flow can end up coming out too fast and result in scaring your baby, compounding the issue.
  • Try movement– some babies need to be distracted into taking a bottle. the person giving baby a bottle may need to walk, swing, bounce, or sway while trying to feed baby. Some babies need to be sung to while being fed. Some babies prefer to look out of a window, while others may prefer to sit in the dark. Try all of these things– you never know what will work.
  • Try different temperatures of milk– it may seem like the best choice is to heat up the breastmilk to body temperature, but some babies get very upset when the milk is the right temp– but there’s no mom attached to the milk. If this is the case, try cold milk, try milk that’s warmer than body temp (but not hot), and see if any of those changes help.
  • Try something other than a bottle– Bottles are relatively new inventions in the scheme of things. Sometimes the best way to feed a baby who won’t take a bottle is to use something else to feed baby. Cups and spoons are two common things used to feed babies. And rather than me try to explain how to do it here or to send you out to the great web to find information, here’s a great playlist someone already put together of some really great videos: ¬†Again, patience is the key.

If you find yourself in the predicament, it can be helpful to seek good lactation help, too. Sometimes having another brain in the mix can help you figure out what’s going on.

Have you dealt with this? Do you have any ideas? Share below!

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

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