21 answers

Getting My Baby to Take a Bottle

I have an 11 week old baby that refuses to take a bottle or a cup, with breast milk or formula. We have tried just about everything, and I need to get back to work. We have tried different bottles with different nipples. We have attempted sippy cups that require sucking. Her Dad tries to give it to her early evening, when I am not around, so as not to confuse her. We (when I say "we" it is all those wonderful people that have attempted this weening, not including me to avoid nipple confusion) have faced her away from us, so she doesn't think to turn towards the nipple. "We" have had the person doing the feeding wear one of my shirts, so it smells like me. (This has provided a little success). After all this, I do not know what else we can do. I do not want to stop breast feeding, but I do need to be able to "leave" her once in a while. Please help!!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Keep at it. I had trouble at different ages with two of my little ones. We just kept at it EVERY day at around the same time. My husband feed them until they were no longer having issues. They both eventually adjusted and had no trouble switching between breast and bottle, and it didn't matter if I fed them or he did.

Good luck!

More Answers

Poor thing, Your problem is near and dear to me. I just went through this headache with my son. After buying 7 different styles of bottles and 5 or 6 sippie cups, someone said to try a free-flowing cup. It worked. He drinks from a cup, sucks a pacifier, drinks, suck... Now that's all he will use. I also took him to my parents and left him with the cup and milk. It was also formula. I continued to pump to keep my milk up but he was not confused with breastmilk in the cup. However, we tried breastmilk in the cup weeks later and he threw a fit. So the cup gets formula and I still breastfeed. It took lots of trying and patience. Believe me, I feel for you.
Good luck and email me if you have any other questions on this subject.

I would recommend talking to a lactation consultant. One suggestion mine gave me was to stand while giving the bottle...it worked for some reason. Another suggestion was to face the baby out as you're feeding. We also had to make sure the bottle was warm enough. After drinking warm breastmilk, my daughter was quite picky. Once they get used to bottles, your baby should take it without problems. Good luck.

Honestly, I don't believe in "nipple confusion". I breastfed all of my girls (3), and that was never a problem. Maybe what your baby wants is YOU. I bet that if you tried to give it to her, she might take it. Right now, food comes from Mom, so when someone else is trying to feed her, it doesn't make sense. If that doesn't work, just keep trying. It took me a couple weeks of trying to get my youngest to start taking a bottle. Good luck!!!

Have you talked to a La Leche League Leader? There are several working moms that attend the group that I attend and I know that LLL has a lot of resources, including ways to get a baby to take a bottle while mom is away. You can find a leader or a local group on their website www.llli.org Good luck

I have a one month old that continued breast feeding after we started supplementing with formula. I fed him the same way with the bottle that I would when breast feeding. He took to the bottle really well that way and continued to nurse the same as before with little to no confusion. You should try feeding and see what happens.

One of my friends had something similar to this happen. She found Breastflow bottles and that is the only thing her daughter would take besides the breast. You can find them at Babies R Us.
Good luck!

Have you tried an Adri bottle? They are quite expensive at $13 a bottle, but I feel they ar worth it. It is the bottle that is most like the breast and the one preferred by most LC's. We stared Jack on the bottle at 3 weeks because I returned to work at week 6.

Personally, I wouldnt have them wear one of your shirts. It seems to me that your smell would cause your child to think that you are present. I also have never heard of not turning a child in to the nipple when being fed by the bottle. It is a comfortable position she has associated with nursing. I am not sure why this would cause nipple confusion.

Good luck!

I truly feel for you! None of my three daughters would take a bottle. I continued to breastfeed them until they were a year old and could take a cup, but I also had the privilege of being a stay at home mom at the time. I don't know what I would have done if I had had to return to work! One thing someone advised me was for ME not to try to feed with a bottle, which you seem to be doing. I was told that babies can smell their mother's milk. They had to try to feed my daughters when I wasn't in the house. We had a bit of success, but eventually I quit trying and only breastfed them. Have you spoken with a Lactation Consultant? While these certified professionals advocate breastfeeding, they may have some tips and be able to encourage you!

My child is not a sucker. She breastfeeds just fine but when it comes to toys, fingers etc. she only gums them instead of sucking. She does this with a bottle too. She starts screaming when she even sees a bottle coming towards her (this was at 3-4months), we don't even try now. Now we use a
"spoon" that you give medication with. It is a tube with a spoon on the end. I guess we could use a cup but this is easier to handle. It came in a baby kit with nail clippers, grooming things and med. droppers.

I understand your frustration. My daughter would not take a bottle at first either. My husband finally convinced her about one week before i went back to work. I would stick with the breast milk in the bottle, formula is not usually as sweet as breastmilk so babies don't like it as much. Someone else suggested the Adiri bottle which might be worth a try. Next time you feed her watch what else she does while nursing, does she play with your hair, or pet your clothes? you could always try having dad duplicate that. Also, turning her away from you while feeding will not help. babies need that closeness and the eye contact that they get while feeding, it is their first expression of "love" so don't take that away from her with a bottle, she may see it as punishment.

Good luck with getting her to take the bottle. Keep up with the breastfeeding, you should be proud you are doing what is best for her. She will eventually "give in" and you can get back to work.

I had to poke bigger holes in the nipples because they just weren't getting enough milk. I guess when they were breastfeeding they got more milk faster than they could get out of the bottle so they got frustrated with the bottle. I had this happen with all 3 of my kids.

good luck

I nursed my son for several months and when we introduced the bottle we had the same problem until I did some research on-line and found Platex bottles orthodontic nipples. I know you said you had tried a variety of bottles/nipples... so if you tried and this didn't work then obviously this reply won't help you! :) He took to them right away. From what I have read... most nipples the milk just drips out when you turn them upside down... the orthodontic nipple requires sucking for the milk to come out. The nipple has a hole on top not at the tip. The hole location is supposed to be similar to how it feels when they nurse. My son also took the orthodontic pacifier... so this may be another reason this helped us, but I have heard that it worked for others too. He would take the bottle with me around. He would even take it from me. It was not as big of a deal as just getting the nipple right. Good luck... keep up the good work!

Patience is what it takes. I have 3 kids and the 2 boys both had this issue. This is what worked for us--the playtex bottle w/the liners and soft nipples. My husband would give it to the baby when he was really hungry and then gently push up the liner so that the breastmilk came out the bottle. It takes patience, but eventually the baby figures out that it can suck the bottle and get milk. My dr. always said to start out w/breastmilk as formula would confuse the child more. Start formula only after they take a bottle easy. And try a bottle everyday, even after they take it once so they don't forget. Good luck, I've been there!

My son and I have the same problem. He just doesn't "get" how to suck on a bottle. He chews the nipples instead of sucks. I've tried many bottles as well. We just transferred him to a sippy cup at six months old, but just with water in it. He seems to like it. My sister had to go back to work with her firstborn who didn't take a bottle. Her daycare provider would spoon feed the breastmilk to her. This helped the baby get through the day, then right when my sister picked her up she would nurse.

We used a bottle that looked like a breast. I'm not sure where we got it (it was borrowed from a friend) but it was about 4 inches tall and about 4 inches in circumference. There was no hard plastic on it except for the bottom.

I went through everything with my now 7 year old and bottom line with her was stubburn. she never took the bottle and was 20 months before she stopped. My youngest took to a bottle and never looked back when i stopped breastfeeding her.

All I can say is keep trying and if that baby wants to eat he/she will take the bottle eventually. If there going to daycare or who ever is watching them drop them off and stay close just in case your needed, that way the baby can get ajusted.

Both of my kids refused bottles too and I worked full-time. I bought just about every bottle and cup made to see if it would work. I was hoping once I was gone all day they would give in and eat and they never really did. They pretty much didn't eat all day while at daycare (until they were on solids) and they survived. I just had to feed them more in the evening. I still pumped while at work so I could feed them during the day on the weeekends. I did send in bottles and sometimes they would take a couple of sips. I was so very frustrated...it was hard leaving them knowing they refused a bottle but they did survive with no ill effects. Hopefully this will give you a little peace of mind.

I too had one who wouldn't readily take a bottle. We spent LOTS on nipples. The even flo was one that she finally took. As she got older she got less finicky about nipples.

I don't know that nipple confusion will be much of an issue given your child's age. I think it tends to happen - if it does- most often when children are give bottles and pacifiers early on - before they have established good solid breastfeeding.

I don't know how long you need to be away from your child to work or how often your child nurses BUT I do know a couple of people who returned to work whose children wouldn't take a bottle. Several of those kids would just 'wait it out' - and they didn't starve to death or anything (but their moms weren't away for 10 or more hours - they would go for 6 or so hours)

If you want to continue breastfeeding maybe you can work out an arrangement to nurse in the middle of your shift- having the baby brought to mom has worked for some. I went to my child's day care at noon every day and nurses.

Yep, I understand. We tried lots of bottle, nipples etc... I had to stop breastfeeding becuase of a large turmor and needed surgery. But, here is what helped us. The Playtex - brown (laytex) flat topped nipple. It was the only one he would take. (has a flat top instead of rounded). Also, I don't know if you are giving breast milk or formula but as much as you might hate to try formula you might just need to. Kaden would not take breast milk from bottle only formula and only one kind. So, keep trying, keep working on it. It will happen. I would think that 11 weeks is too early for a sippy cup it works differently and might just confuse more. Try not holding when feeding try propping up in swing or bouncy chair or something. Also, pay attention to the little things. I had a friend that had really long hair and when she breast feed the baby he played with her hair. They could not get him to take a bottle from dad when she had to work 12 hours shift (he was bald) until he put on a long wig and that worked. The baby had hair to play with. It might be weird but it worked. Something that mabye you wouldn't notice if you didn't look :)

Keep at it. I had trouble at different ages with two of my little ones. We just kept at it EVERY day at around the same time. My husband feed them until they were no longer having issues. They both eventually adjusted and had no trouble switching between breast and bottle, and it didn't matter if I fed them or he did.

Good luck!

Make the hole in the nipples larger so the milk comes out faster and easier. mothers breasts 'squirt' the milk out when its 'let down' so the baby doesn't have to suck in the same way as a bottle, which requires more sucking in a different way. and use breast milk if possible. If the baby gets hungry enough, eventually they'll take either the bottle or sippy cup.
Use a hot diaper pin size needle to enlarge it. I had to do this with my daughter.
AND have the other person start feeding BEFORE the baby is very hungry- just barely hungry enough to not get frustrated might help. the baby seems to get alot of comfort from the snugglyness and just nursing.
good luck!

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