Does your exclusively breastfed baby refuse a bottle?
Do you need to return to work and cease exclusively breastfeeding your baby?
There may come a time as a mother that you have to return to work or need to cease breastfeeding for medical reasons. Your infant will need to be weaned off the breast and fed by bottle. It seems like an easy process although some infants are much more picky than others. They sense that the bottle is not their mother’s breast; the texture, size and flow are all different. While some babies easily adapt to the change from breast to bottle, others put up a fight.
The techniques in this article will encourage your infant to accept the bottle as their new gateway to milk although some mothers have been unsuccessful with the transfer even when they follow all the recommendations in terms of bottle refusal. It is important to understand no two babies are the same. Even though techniques may work for one baby, this does not guarantee they will work for all.
- 1 What is Bottle Refusal?
- 2 Why Won’t my Baby Take a Bottle?
- 3 How Can I Encourage my Infant to Take a Bottle?
- 4 Why Some Mothers Recommend Bottle Feeding
- 5 Tips that Real Moms have Suggested to Beat Bottle Refusal
- 6 What Bottles are Recommended When Bottle Refusal Occurs?
What is Bottle Refusal?
Bottle refusal often refers to a breastfed baby (although can refer to a bottle fed baby) refusing to take their bottle. When an infant continuously refuses a bottle it can be traumatic experience for both the baby and the mother.
Why Won’t my Baby Take a Bottle?
There are a number of reasons why a baby may refuse to take a bottle:
- Your infant may not like the feel or texture of the plastic, artificial teat in their mouth
- They may be confused about a bottle after being breastfed for some time
- Relate a bad experience with taking a bottle
- Your baby is attached to you and your breast
- The baby is unwell or is suffering thrush which in this case should be taken for a visit to the pediatrician
Working out which one of these is the reason behind why your infant is refusing the bottle can often be narrowed down. Babies that do not like the texture or shape of the bottle teat will also often refuse to suck on a pacifier while babies that have had a negative experience may suck for a little then begin to refuse the bottle.
How Can I Encourage my Infant to Take a Bottle?
1. Choose a Suitable Bottle
Choosing the right bottle for your infant can help with the transition process. Before you rush out and purchase expensive bottles that a friend has recommended, reading some of the tips below may save you a lot of time and money.
A teat that replicates your own nipples is the best approach. There are many bottles specifically designed for breastfed babies. These replicate the natural breastfeeding process with the right flow and anti colic features.
If you have a naturally heavy let down and your baby is not used to having to work for milk, you should find a teat that replicates this. Alternatively if you find that your baby is used to working for breast milk, find a slow teat.
If you intend on transitioning your breastfed baby to a bottle, take a look at our 10 bottle recommendations for breastfed babies.
If you know you plan on bottle feeding your infant it is always best to start them young. Beginning to introduce a bottle from approximately 4 to 5 weeks of age will ensure that the breastfeeding connection is not lost. At this young age an infant should switch from breast to bottle without putting up a fight.
The longer a child is breastfed without the introduction of a bottle, the longer they will expect to only ever need to breastfeed. Giving your infant enough time to adjust to the bottle before they really need to will make the process a lot less stressful. While many parents reading this article have missed the peak time to introduce a bottle, there are other key timing factors that can help transition a baby from breast to bottle.
When attempting to bottle feed your baby, do so in the way that you would breastfed him or her. Choose a dark and quiet location and calmly offer the infant a bottle. If your baby is at the ‘starving’ point they may also be in such a panic they can not focus on taking in milk from a new source. Always try to wean your infant from breast to bottle just before they are due for a feed.
If your baby is refusing the contents of the bottle (either breast milk or formula) at room temperature, try heating the contents. Ensure that milk is never served too hot. Luke warm like the milk that comes directly from a mothers breast is what breastfed babies are used to. If the contents have been warmed although the teat is still stone cold, you may find your infant refusing to suck on it. Warm the teat under the tap. Always rest it against the inside of your arm to ensure the temperature is suitable prior to offering it to your baby.
4. Mother, Father or Caregiver?
If you have previously breastfed your baby and are now trying to feed them from a bottle, they may refuse it because they can smell you. Most babies will always prefer to feed from the breast rather than the bottle. If the infant can smell your breasts, they may be more inclined to push away a bottle.
Where possible, have your infants father, caregiver or grandparent offer them their bottle. Some mothers have had success with another person bottle feeding their baby. Many fathers love bonding with their infant while feeding them.
Feeding your baby the bottle in the same position that breast milk was offered is a good starting point. They are become used to this position especially if they have been exclusively breastfed for some time. If this position does not work then there is no harm in holding your infant in a number of different safe ways to see if that helps them accept the bottle.
The transition from breast to bottle can often take time. If you find that your infant is refusing the bottle in turn making you and them upset, try again the next day. Patience is important throughout this process. If you find yourself becoming frustrated, ask for help from family and friends.
If you have tried all the transitioning techniques and still have an infant refusing a bottle be timely in making an appointment with a doctor or lactation specialist. If you are planning to return to work, seeing a lactation specialist with your baby can help relieve the bottle refusal stress.
Why Some Mothers Recommend Bottle Feeding
Breast is best. This is a phrase that every mother would have heard at some stage of their pregnancy. While breast is always the first recommended nutrient source for a newborn baby, many mothers have shared their positive bottle feeding experiences.
Bottle feeding can:
- Provide a mother with a some time to themselves
- Give other family members bonding time with the infant
- Relieve stress that may be placed on a mother
- Allow the mother to return to work where necessary
- Allow the infant’s father to have an active parenting role
Tips that Real Moms have Suggested to Beat Bottle Refusal
- “Babies need to learn to bottle feed just like they do breastfeed so I guess it takes time and practise.”
- “Some people find success when their baby is particularly hungry, some when their baby isn’t hungry. Some people say that their baby will take milk from a bottle if the mum isn’t around, but will only take enough to get by, saving up for when they can breastfeed when their mother returns.”
- “I find making the milk just ever so slightly above body temperature helps.”
- Just keep trying when your infant is due for a feed. If he/she doesn’t take it after 5/10 mins or gets distressed switch to boob, then try again at the next feed/later. It might take a bit for them to get the hang it. Tease the infant around the mouth with the teat, as you do when establishing breastfeeding and wait until he opens his mouth. These are some tips I found useful with my own children.
What Bottles are Recommended When Bottle Refusal Occurs?
If your baby was exclusively breastfed and now you wish to commence bottle feeding, take a look at our bottle recommendation for breastfed babies.