26 answers

Introducing a Bottle

My daughter is two weeks old and I am breastfeeding her. I am going to be going back to work when she is 12 weeks old. I want to introduce the bottle to her, but I am a little comfused as to when I should do that. Everything that I read is different. I don't want to do it to soon and her get confused and refuse the breast, but I don't want to wait too long and her refuse the bottle. Any advice?

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I breast fed my son until he was 7 months old, but went back to work when he was 3 months. I introduced the bottle to him around 6 weeks, and started him on a feeding and sleeping schedule at the same time.

If you are able to, try to get someone else give him a bottle and it should be an easier transition.

Good luck!

I have 2 kids- 3 and 9 mos. and with both I introduced the bottle around 5-6 weeks old and it was a very easy transition. I started by getting used to pumping and then using a Playtex Vent Aire bottle recommended for switching between breast and bottle with a slow nipple (fast is too much). I had my husband do the feeding while I left the room. Both kids got used to it very quickly and my daughter still prefers the breast when I am around but has no problems with the bottles in my absence. Good luck!

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hi! i am a certified breastfeeding counselor and a nursing mom. i would recommend introducing the bottle at around 4 weeks of age. this ensures that you and your baby are comfortable with breast feeding and that your milk supply is pretty well established. if you have any other questions about pumps/pumping etc. please feel free to contact me! good luck and enjoy your time off! congratulations!

Hi L., When I nursed my youngest my hubby gave her a bottle every evening starting the day we came home from the hospital...it was Daddy/daughter time for them and it caused no problems for her and I at all. In fact it really helped because then I was free to spend some time with our two older girls. I suggest you use the playtex bottles/liners, they worked great for all three of my girls! Congrats and best wishes!


Every baby is different. I introduced a bottle to my daughter when she was 3 weeks old. I made sure my husband was the one to feed her the bottle, and we only used it for one feeding a day. She didn't have any confusion at all. I ended up not going back to work and gave up the bottle when my daughter was 4 months old. My only advise is to stick with it once you start. It gets to the point where you would just rather feed her from your breast because it is much easier, but if you want her to keep using the bottle, you have to keep it up. Once I stopped giving her a bottle and my husband tried to give her one weeks later when I was away for a few hours, she refused the bottle completely. Good luck!

Before your daughter is 3 weeks old, give her a bottle. Then one bottle a week. The idea is that you withhold the breast until she finishes the bottle. This is what I was told and it worked with my second. My first, I waited too long and he never took a bottle. Best of luck. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter!

Hi L.,

Congratulations on your new baby! I would recommend waiting until your baby is at least 6 weeks old before introducing a bottle. You want to make sure that you have established a good milk supply and a good nursing relationship with her before you introduce a bottle so that she doesn't get nipple confusion. I waited until 8 weeks with my son. I also recommend having someone other than yourself give her the bottle and you may need to leave the room or leave the house to get her to take it. Babies are smart and if you are nearby, she may refuse the bottle. Don't worry - she will take it just fine when she is with your caregiver! Here is a link to an article that I wrote on breastfeeding and working that may help you: http://www.pumpingtips.com


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Hi L.,

My daughter is now 3 months old and we started a bottle at two weeks due to some exams that I had to take I was going to be away from her all day and she had to get use to the bottle very quickly.

We pick a certain time every day and my husband feed her. So everyday at 12pm my husband feed her. I also feed her when my husband could not and she had not problem taking the bottle from me, my husband or even relatives. I think because she was so young it did not matter.

I have now been back to work since my baby was six weeks old and she still has no issue switching from the bottle to breastfeeding. I really do think it helped introducing it so early. I know both of my sisters waited till later and thier kids never took the bottle.

We still stick with the scheudle of her getting at least one bottle a day even though I am home on the weekends. I tried not giving her a bottle on the weekend and my husband had a hard time come Monday trying to fed her a bottle. At three months my daughter sleeps from 9pm -6am wakes up to eat and then goes back to bed until 9am. So I feed her at 6am and then my husband takes the 9am feeding so that I can get some extra sleep on the weekends. It has really worked out for us.

My only suggestion would be if you are going back to work make sure that your baby breastfeeds and drains your breast's completely before you leave in the morning to head to work. That way you are not full all day long and also it helps to keep your milk production up. I also make sure that once I come home from work that she breastfeeds for the rest of the evening no bottles and it has been working great for us.

Just do what works best for your situation. It always seems to work out..


Hi - I think the key thing is how good your baby is at nursing. If she really has the hang of it, and nurses well, I'd introduce a bottle. I did this and it worked great for me. I'd pump immediately before bed, then my husband took a bottle of breastmilk, and did the first nightime feeding with the bottle. It was great because he got some cuddle time, and I got at least 1 longer stretch of sleep every night!

One thing I haven't seen mentioned - I was advised to use a slow-flow nipple on the bottle. If the nipple is faster-flow, then eating from a bottle can be much less work than nursing, and she may start to refuse to nurse simply because the bottle is easier.

Good luck!

I agree that as soon as you feel like you guys have bfing down you should introduce the bottle. My little one had both breastmilk and formula from bottles (as well as bfing) from the beginning, and he would go back and forth with no problem. You can try having your dh do the bottle, but at this age, your baby may not even care if it comes from you. But if you *need* to get her on the bottle, do it sooner rather than later. My friend waited until 4 months to try to introduce a bottle and the baby wouldn't take it until she was 7 months old. It was AWFUL! :-)

We always recommended 4 weeks, and have a certain time of day that one person, other than you, offers the bottle. My kids could tell if I was even in the house, so you may take this time for a little walk.

Hi L.,
I introduced both of my babies to bottles within the first few weeks of their lives but kept breast feeding. I did not have ANY problems with either of them. For me, my husband wanted to be involved, and I wanted to get some sleep so he would give them the 11:00pm feeding, and I would get a good solid block of sleep. It worked great. I had one really good eater nad one poor eater, but those patterns were true no matter where they were getting the milk.


From experience, If possiable, you should not be the one offering the bottle. Anyone other than you. She then will not refuse you. I would wait till 3 weeks before you go back to work to introduce the bottle(may take a few different types of bottles for you to figure out which one is best). Some babies will refuse breast once they realize that they do not have to work as hard to feed from a bottle(mine did not). I would contact your le leche or here is the number to the breastfeeding hotline....1-###-###-####(I am sure that is the number)....Think I memorized it....LOL good luck

Hi Lauren. I understand where you are coming from. I am breastfeeding my 4 month old as we speak (4:30 AM!). The lactation consultants at Virtua where I had my son recommended to wait 2-3 weeks (but NOT longer, unless your baby is struggling nursing) until breastfeeding and your milk supply are off to a good start. Do not wait too long, or it may be very difficult to get your baby to take a bottle, which would be extremely stressful if you waiting till a few weeks before going back to work. I'm assuming you'll be pumping. This is what I did. I tried to pump everyday, usually first thing in the morning--I'd nurse on one side, pump on the other. I'd give my son (or my husband would) one bottle every other, or every third day, based on the lactation consultants recommendation. This way you are saving some in the freezer and the baby is getting some exposure to the bottle without getting it too frequently. Please, please do not feel guilty by giving your baby a bottle. I know there is a lot of pressure, even if you are pumping and giving breastmilk not formula.

I would wait until she is about 8-9weeks old. That's what I did with my son and it seemed to work out well. It can be hard to establish nursing in the beginning, but it is always easier for an infant to get milk from a bottle. So, I think it makes sense to wait until you are very comfortable nursing before you introduce a bottle. Good luck!!

I am breastfeeding also and I had my MIL introduce a bottle to my daughter at three weeks. We used the breastflow bottle, with milk that I had pumped. She latched on to that right away and drank almost all of it. I stood by in the next room. She only had to drink from a bottle a couple times for the next couple months before I went to work, but she never had a problem and never refused it!!! (oops, I lied, her father tried to give it to her in church, but I was sitting next to them, all the other times I was not around). My SIL breastfed her daughter in the mornings, went to work, the baby had formula with the sitter and then breastfed at night. My SIL's body knew when to produce the milk and she didn't have to pump at work. Best of luck, let us know how she makes out!

We had the same situation. My husband started the bottle feedings at about 3 weeks. I never gave the baby a bottle and he just knew the difference. He took to the bottle just fine with my hubby and my hubby loved the closeness. After about 5 weeks we allowed others to do the bottle too so that he'd be okay with the daycare workers.

Also, I started him in daycare a week or two before I was set to go back to work...just a an hour or two at first...I would drop him off and run to the store and then pick him up. When he started going full day, he was fine and it was a little easier for me too. Hope that helps!

I recommend starting now.We didn't start right away & had trouble. We had a really hard time finding a nipple my son liked. It took us weeks. He preferred the breast & didn't want to change. We finally found that he was ok with the rubber nipples (the dark ones, not the clear ones). Also, in the beginning, if I was in the house he would absolutely refuse to eat from the bottle. And he was a really hungry boy (he ate about every 2 hours for months). I'm about to have baby #2 & I plan on starting with one bottle a day while the baby is in the hospital.
Good luck.

My pediatrician told me to try my son with a bottle of breast milk one time per week from the beginning. He also suggested that I let someone else give him the bottle rather than me. It worked fine and we did that once per week until I returned to work. I had an ample milk supply and he never had problems nursing and/or accepting a bottle.

I started introducing him to formula right before I returned to work when he was 8 weeks old and he accepted that as well. He would get breast milk and formula during the day and I would nurse him when I was home.

Hi L.,

Contact your local La leche League representative.

They will help you.


Hope this helps. All the best. D.

For both our kids we started the bottle right away even though I was strictly nursing. I was pumping anyway to relieve engorged breasts, so why waste the milk? Also, we wanted my husband to feed them too, and I've never been big on nursing in public if I could avoid it. They never had any problems rejecting breast or bottle, when they were hungry, they were hungry!!! I think you should try whenever you feel you want to! The longer you wait, the more set in their ways they get! Good luck!


with both my boys i introduced the bottle at two weeks old. It gave me comfort with the second child that i could get out of the house for a little bit and have thier dad participate more. best of luck!


Unfortunately there is no right answer, it depends on the baby. I was in a similar situation to you, I went back at 16 weeks but I moved over to full formula feeding by about 6 weeks. Not sure how long you wanted to keep her on the breast. For my schedule, I gave her a 3 oz. bottle of formula before she went to bed at night starting at about 2 weeks, and that lasted for about 2 more weeks. Then I did one more bottle a day, and after a few weeks of 2 bottles I went straight to full formula b/c I was having trouble with my milk supply. That is the problem, you have to be rigorous about pumping in order to keep your supply steady if you are supplementing with bottles. Some babies react very negatively to the bottle- my daughter did not and she never seemed to prefer one over the other so our transition was not too bad. Good luck!

I have 2 kids- 3 and 9 mos. and with both I introduced the bottle around 5-6 weeks old and it was a very easy transition. I started by getting used to pumping and then using a Playtex Vent Aire bottle recommended for switching between breast and bottle with a slow nipple (fast is too much). I had my husband do the feeding while I left the room. Both kids got used to it very quickly and my daughter still prefers the breast when I am around but has no problems with the bottles in my absence. Good luck!

I breast fed my son until he was 7 months old, but went back to work when he was 3 months. I introduced the bottle to him around 6 weeks, and started him on a feeding and sleeping schedule at the same time.

If you are able to, try to get someone else give him a bottle and it should be an easier transition.

Good luck!

Congratulations on your new baby, L.!

Since you have 12 wks off, there is really NO hurry at all! Just concentrate on nursing right now.

I would strongly suggest that you wait at least 4-6 wks before introducing a bottle. That way breastfeeding will be well established & you won't have to worry as much about the possibility of nipple confusion. When you do introduce a bottle, I would suggest that you only (have some one else) give her one bottle a day. When 10 or 11 wks comes, 1-2 bottles a day would be fine. There's really no need to do any more than that though.

Also, if you haven't already, be sure to bookmark www.KellyMom.com and read "Nursing Mother, Working Mother". Also, I can not recommend going to La Leche Meetings enough! The support & information is absolutely priceless! There are usually lots of other working moms, so they can give you all sorts of tips for effective pumping & so forth.

Good luck!

It really depends on your situation...is she feeding really well now? My baby at 2 weeks was still trying to get the hang of things. I think all babies are different and that's probably why everything you read is different. I think 2 weeks is way too early, but I would seek out help from a breastfeeding consultant from your local hospital (ours are wonderful, but I'm not sure where you're from) or your ped. They will be able to assess your situation and you can figure out when the best time would be. For us, it wasn't until after 4 weeks and I went back to work at 8 weeks. And when you do introduce a bottle, try to find one that's close to looking/feeling like you. We went through 5 different bottles before we found one that he liked. so once you do try, don't be frustrated if she rejects it...she probably won't like the first bottle you try :) So only by one at first, not a whole pack. We finally settled on Dr Brown's cause he liked them.

Congratulations on your new daughter! I introduced a bottle when my daughter was 1 week old at the advice of my lactation consultant. She was not getting enough to eat (my supply was low) and she needed supplements very early on. I had no trouble introducing the bottle (though the first couple times she took it she "played" with it for a few minutes trying to figure out what it was) and she never had any problems going back to the breast. She is now 4 1/2 months old and has gone back and forth from breast to bottle all along. This made it easier for me even early on b/c other people could feed her if I needed to rest or something. However, I think it's important that I mention I pumped a LOT every day, so even if someone else was feeding her, I was at least pumping to maintain my milk supply. Good luck!

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