Ohhhh, We’ve Got Trouble, My Friends, right here in River City!
...With a capital T and that rhymes with B and that stands for Bottle!
You’ve gotten breastfeeding off to a great start; baby is happy, healthy, and gaining well. You’re feeling great about your breastfeeding relationship and that awesome milk you provide. A couple months down the road you decide to give baby and bottle, and she refuses!
For some families, bottles are essential for when the nursing parent goes back to work. For others, it may not be needed every day, but parents want to have some time to run errands, go to appointments, spend time with friends, and be able to leave baby at home. So what do you if baby won’t take a bottle?
Bottles & Milk
Alternatives to Bottles
Offering the Bottle
Some babies choose not to take a bottle. For short periods of time, they may not need to have milk. For extended time, they may choose to go without milk when away from the breast, and get all their milk in the evening and overnight. This situation may not be ideal, and may be more tiring for the nursing parent, but fortunately baby is still getting all his nutrients and is happy during the day.
Take your time
Your baby cannot be forced into taking a bottle through hunger and persuasion. You may have to work on it over time. It’s ok to let baby play with the bottle and nipple in her mouth, getting used to the idea.
All of these tips are for babies refusing the bottle out of preference for feeding at the breast. If it seems your baby is struggling with a bottle for other reasons, please speak with an IBCLC or your pediatrician to rule out anatomical concerns. Some IBCLCs (including myself) do bottle consults to work with your baby and help you develop a plan for guiding your baby towards taking a bottle. Bottle refusal is yet another time you are not alone. Always reach out for help.
I’ve also included this information in the attached PDF for easy printing and reference.
Cynthia Bischoff, IBCLC, is the owner and provider at Lactation Life, offering lactation consults in Maryland.