Baby Refusing Bottle
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What To Do When Your Baby Is Refusing The Bottle

As a breastfeeding mom, I have experienced my fair share of anxiety over my baby refusing a bottle.  And as someone who’s been there, let me say, hang in there, mama!

After I had my baby, I was so nervous about nipple confusion.  The hospital where I had my baby drilled that my baby shouldn’t have a pacifier or bottle only until breastfeeding was well established.  

With that in mind, I wanted to make sure that breastfeeding was going well for us, and I was so worried about a bottle or paci ruining it.  So I never gave my baby either!

Then, before I knew it, my maternity leave was coming to an end, and I figured we had to try a bottle to help our baby adjust to it.  So one week before I had to go back to work, my husband tried giving our son a bottle.  

Our baby was not happy about the bottle.  At all. 

So, cue the anxiety as we kept trying to give our son a bottle with no success.  Keep reading to find out what you can do if you are in the same situation as we were!

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Tips For When Baby Is Refusing Bottles

Don’t Wait To Introduce Bottles

If you can, don’t wait too long to introduce bottles to your baby. We waited until our baby was 11 weeks old before we tried a bottle, which was the biggest mistake.  

As I mentioned earlier, definitely wait until breastfeeding is well established to introduce a bottle. Typically, breastfeeding is set somewhere between 4-6 weeks in. So, if you’re in the 4-6 week mark, and you feel confident that everything is going well, go ahead and start bottles!

Transition To Bottles Gradually

Especially if you are trying to switch to bottle-feeding only, you will want to make this a slow transition.

Breastfeeding is very calming for your little one. It’s soothing and comforting! If you take that away cold turkey, your baby is more likely to resist using a bottle.

Start by trying bottle-feeding once a day.  Stay consistent, and keep trying every day until your baby accepts it.  After your baby is ok with one bottle-feeding, introduce another.  

You will keep repeating this process until your baby is getting however many bottle-feeding sessions they need.

Try Different Bottle Shapes And Flows

As a parent, trying many different bottles can be frustrating, but it’s necessary.  We would try a new bottle for a whole week, and if our baby still wasn’t taking to that bottle, we would find a new option. If you have the opportunity, only buy a single bottle until you know your baby likes that brand!

When looking for bottles to try, you will want to try bottles that closely resemble what they experience while breastfeeding. 

What that means is, you want to have bottle nipples with a more natural shape and a flow that is similar to yours.  If you have a forceful letdown, you will want a bottle nipple with a more significant flow.

Here are our top 3 picks of the best bottles for breastfed babies:

Nuk Simply Natural

Nuk Simply Natural bottles for when breastfed baby is refusing bottle

Hands down, this is our number one pick.  This is the only bottle that our baby would actually drink out of and not just play with. 

These bottles are excellent because they have a unique nipple shape that has 3, 6, or 9 holes depending on the flow you need. They are the most similar to a breast for breastfed babies.


Comotomo bottles for when breastfed baby refusing bottle

Comotomo is another great brand to try, and these are also unique bottles.  What makes them different is that the nipple and the cup are wide and flexible.  Your baby can easily squeeze these bottles, which is more similar to breastfeeding than a hard bottle is.  

Another great thing about these bottles is that they are so easy to clean!

Tommee Tippee

Tommee Tippee bottles for when breastfed baby refusing bottle

Tommee Tippee bottles are another great pick because they have more natural, flexible bottle nipples.  Similar to the Comotomo bottles, they are also a wider bottle.

Let Baby Play With Empty Bottles

To help your baby get used to the idea of drinking from a bottle, let them play with a clean, empty bottle.  

Your baby will inevitably put the bottle in their mouth, which can help them get the hang of how the bottle feels.


Try When Baby Is “Hungry Enough”

When attempting to give your baby a bottle, you will want to make sure it’s at the right time.  

By waiting until your baby is really hungry, you might think they will be more willing to try the bottle.  But, more often than not, your baby will be more easily frustrated because they want what they are used to.

Similarly, if you try the bottle when your baby isn’t hungry, they won’t have enough interest to try the bottle and might end up playing with it.

If you watch for your baby’s feeding cues, you can find just the right time to try the bottle, and you might have a little more success.

Start With Small Amounts Of Milk

When you first start offering a bottle to your baby, it’s a good idea to start with small amounts of milk.  Using small amounts will ensure that too much milk isn’t going to waste as your baby adjusts to the bottle.

Experiment With Milk Temperatures

When your baby only breastfeeding, they know that their milk is always warm. That’s what they are used to, and probably what they will prefer.  

When you are using milk from a freezer stash, make sure it’s properly warmed up.  If your baby doesn’t like the warmed-up milk, try thawing the milk in the fridge overnight and see if they like it cold. 

If your baby still isn’t trying the milk, it can be helpful to use freshly expressed milk. Fresh milk is what your baby prefers drinking, so they might be more willing to drink from the bottle.

After using fresh milk for a little while, you can try mixing it with milk from your stash over time to help your baby adjust to the freezer milk. 

Try A Different Feeding Position

If you have a go-to position while breastfeeding, go ahead and try that position while bottle-feeding!  You might have to modify it a bit depending on the position, but it might be familiar and comforting for your baby.

Another option you can try is using a completely different feeding position.  Our son had the most success at the beginning of bottle-feeding if we propped him up with some pillows in a sitting position.  

Have Someone Else Try Feeding

If your baby is still refusing the bottle from you, it might be because they associate you with breastfeeding. 

If possible, have your partner or a grandparent give it a try.  Having someone that your baby doesn’t associate with breastfeeding might do the trick!

Stay Calm

Especially if you are in a time crunch, your baby refusing a bottle can be difficult and frustrating!

It’s crucial to remember that you need to stay calm.  Like many different situations, your baby can sense if you’re getting upset or flustered, and it can also put them on edge!  

If things aren’t going how you imagined and you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a break.  You can always come back to try the bottle again later in the day.

Baby Refusing Bottle

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Baby Still Won’t Drink From A Bottle?

After trying the suggestions above, trying different bottles, and your baby still won’t take a bottle, here is the last resort option for you to try.

Call Your Baby’s Doctor

You will want to call your baby’s doctor and get their advice on how long your baby can go in between feedings.  This will give you some base knowledge on when your baby will need to eat while you are away.  

Also, if your baby is approaching 6-months of age, ask their doctor about starting solids.

Breastfeed Right Before Leaving Baby

With your baby not taking a bottle, you will need to breastfeed right before leaving your baby.  Make sure you block out some time for this, so you don’t forget and end up being late for where you need to go.  

Breastfeed During Breaks

Breastfeeding during work breaks is not easy.  Trust me; I’ve been there!  With the advice you received from your baby’s doctor, you will need to figure out the time your baby will need to eat next.

If possible, have whoever is watching your baby bring them to you during your break/lunchtime.  Or, you can go to them if you have enough time to.  

With this step, it might be a good idea to talk to your supervisor about what’s going on.  They might be ok with you taking a few extra minutes if you inform them about your situation.

Introduce Solids

If your baby’s doctor gave you the go-ahead, start introducing some solids!  This can be a fantastic second option if your baby absolutely won’t take a bottle.  

Plus, it will give you peace of mind that your baby is still getting proper nutrition while you’re away.

When To See The Pediatrician

When your baby is refusing a bottle, it can be a very stressful time for everyone involved.  If you ever have concerns about anything, it’s worth a call to the doctor.

With that in mind, here are some things to think about as you try to get your baby to accept a bottle:

Baby Isn’t Getting Enough Nutrition

If your baby is losing weight or acting sluggish, it could be possible that your baby is malnourished.  

Baby Is Dehydrated

In addition to acting sluggish, your baby could be dehydrated if they have fewer wet diapers.  

It will be a good idea to track how many wet diapers your baby is having once you start to introduce bottles.  

Baby Is Sick

If your baby has a fever, is vomiting, or has diarrhea, it’s always wise to call the pediatrician.  

When your baby is refusing the bottle, it can be a lot to handle.  I hope that you find success in these tips, along with some much-needed support. 

And remember, you are not alone. Many moms go through this every year! Also, this is just a small phase in your baby’s life. Before you know it, they will be asking you for more goldfish and a refill of their sippy cup! 

Before you go, check out these related articles:

Baby Refusing Bottle

Did you use these suggestions for when your baby is refusing the bottle?  I would love to know how this big transition went for your family in the comments below!

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  1. Trying different bottles and nipples is so important. Even for a bottle feeding mama. My son had a tongue tie, and had difficulty with many nipple shapes. These are really great tips.

  2. I never had problems with my girls not taking bottles but I know a good number of my friends have (and still do). I will be sure to pass your article along to them next time I see them! These are great tips!

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