Bottle Preference Versus Nipple Confusion
I hear a lot of people say their doctor, mom, best friend, etc. have told them that nipple confusion doesnt exist.
And they may be right but bottle preference is a VERY real thing.
I work with so many mothers who are dealing with a baby who has suddenly decided they dont want the breast, typically because their baby isnt being paced fed with a slow flow nipple.
So if someone tries to tell you nipple confusion is made upyou can entertain the idea but make sure you tell them that bottle preferences DO exist.
You’re Ready To Move On To A Bottle With Something In It
Once theyre convinced that the bottle isnt going to do them grave bodily harm you can fill it with about one ounce of pumped milk. Warm? Cold? Doesnt really matter. Try one, try both. Most babies dont have any problem drinking cold breastmilk straight from the fridge.
Youll want to start with baby sitting up, and you want to slowly touch the nipple tip to their lips so theyll open their mouth, and then to the roof of their mouth right behind the gumline, allowing them to suck it in.
Best Positions For Bottle Feeding
To feed your baby, cradle her in a semi-upright position and support her head. Don’t feed her lying downformula can flow into the middle ear, causing an infection. To prevent your baby from swallowing air as she sucks, tilt the bottle so that the formula fills the neck of the bottle and covers the nipple. Here are a few of the best positions to try:
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Cradle him. Place the baby’s head in the crook of your arm, and your other arm around the baby or underneath him. Lift the arm with baby’s head slightly so he’s in a semi-upright position. You never want to feed baby when he’s lying down–the formula can flow into the middle ear, causing an infection.
Sit him up. This position works well for babies with painful gas or acid reflux. Sit Baby on your lap so he’s in a more upright position. Let his head rest on your chest or in the crook of your arm.
Place him in your lap. This works when you’re lying or sitting down with your legs propped up. Place the baby on top of your lap, with his head resting on your knees and his feet on your stomach. This is an excellent feeding position because you and your baby are facing one another, allowing you to make plenty of eye contact.
Tilt the bottle. When feeding your infant, tilt the bottle so the milk completely fills the nipple. This decreases the amount of air that your baby is likely to take in, lessening her chances of having painful gas.
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When Your Breastfed Baby Wont Take A Bottle
Ive breastfed all my girls, and if youre a breastfeeding mama too, then you know that it keeps you pretty tied down. Babies usually nurse every 2-3 hours , so youre always on call.
However, sometimes mama needs a break or a night out so your baby needs to take a bottle.
My youngest daughter took to her bottle like a champ the first time we tried. It was about a month after she was born and my mother-in-law offered to babysit so my husband and I could go out to dinner. The only problem with the bottle feeding was that my baby girl thought there wasnt enough in it!
However, the next time Grandma babysat was a different story. She got so mad at the bottle! My mother in law explained, obviously exhausted from attempting to sooth a grumpy, hungry baby for a couple hours.
From that point on, our stubborn little sweetheart decided that the bottle was not an adequate substitute for mom, even though the milk is the same.
Realistically, there will be times that I need to be away for more than an hour or two, so we needed to figure out how to get our baby to take a bottle again.
We’ll Start With A Dry Clean Empty Bottle
1 Let your baby play with/suck/chew on the bottle nipple with NO food in it first. Thats right, just the nipple and the bottle collar. If your baby is old enough to put things in their mouth, hand them the nipple and let them explore it. If baby isnt quite that old then try gently introducing the nipple to their mouth like a pacifier. We want this to be non-threatening and low pressure.
2 Once your baby is comfortable with the nipple being in their mouth youll want to try dipping the nipple in expressed milk and letting them suck on it again, this is WITHOUT it being full of milk. Were just making friends with the nipple, not eating.
3 If your baby wont suck on the nipple no matter what you do, get them to play tug-of-war while sucking your clean finger or a pacifier . They will need to cup your finger with their tongue, extend it over their gums, and keep it there while they suck. When theyre sucking youll tug your finger/pacifier a bit to encourage them to suck it back in.
4 If you cant get your baby to suck on a bottle nipple, pacifier, OR your finger and youve tried this over and over for at least 3 days, you need one-on-one help with a skilled IBCLC to figure out whats going on. Theres always a reason babies arent sucking, and the reason is never because he wants to make my life harder.
5 Once youve got baby used to sucking on the bottle nipple, hand them an empty bottle to play with/get used to. Again, keep it low pressure and fun.
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Check Out Different Bottles And Nipples
Mankind wouldnt be nearly as advanced as it is right now if we had given up the first time we failed at things. We wouldnt be flying, driving or living in the homes we are now. The same principle applies to parenting we can never give up on our missions because what were doing is important.
So if your baby refuses the bottle, try another one and put new nipples on as well. Keep experimenting until you crack the code finding the right combination of bottle and nipple for him.
Once A Baby Takes A Bottle Continue To Give Them A Bottle Twice A Week
Once your baby starts taking a bottle, be sure to keep giving it to her at least twice a week. Like I stated earlier, our daughter took a bottle at six weeks, and we thought she wouldn’t have any problems in the future . . . but that wasn’t the case.
At three months, she wouldn’t take the bottle and we had to seek the advice of the lactation consultant. After following these instructions, she once again began to drink from a bottle. However, there were numerous afternoons of us trying to give her a bottle and her refusing itâfrustrating.
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What To Look Out For
One sure sign your baby is not up to it is when they spit it out the minute the teat touches their mouth. They may gag during the first few months.
You will know your little one had a negative experience when they are okay with feeding on the bottle initially, but then stop suddenly.
The most common culprit why your baby refuses the bottle is that just want you.
Even if you are not entirely sure as to the reason for their refusal, it is worth giving it some thought as it will help you assess the situation and come up with a solution.
How To Trigger Your Baby’s Sucking Reflex With A Pacifier
I think the key to having success with a bottle is capitalizing on the sucking reflex and not just giving the baby the bottle before they are sucking. The quick switch avoids nipple confusion because they’re drinking before they realize the bottle has been switched in place of the breast. When we gave her the bottle first, she would just push the bottle nipple out of her mouth. By giving her a pacifier or distracting her first, she started the sucking reflex.
It was our experience that inspired me to create this guide. Please leave a comment below about your experience to help other people in similar situations.
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What To Do When Baby Wont Take A Bottle
I can still remember the stress, anxiety, and absolute overwhelm when I was a mother for the first time 7 years ago and I realized: my baby wont take a bottle.
Before Sams arrival, I was both excited and nervous to breastfeed. Im a pediatric occupational therapist and already knew a thing or two about feeding babies.
But, because Im type A, I read everything I could from a mothers perspective to make sure I did everything right. I felt like there were endless stories from everyone around me that breastfeeding just didnt end up working out for them.
That was the last thing I wanted, so with my first child, I followed all the rules and was so relieved when it was obvious very early on that he was going to have no trouble nursing at all. What I didnt expect was that my sweet little breastfeeding champ would refuse to take a bottle for 12 months, which was the entirety of our nursing relationship.
Ill admit that, at some point, I stopped trying and lived with crazy work schedules and feeling completely helpless.
Ive learned a lot since then, I had two more kids that DID take bottles and could switch between being bottle fed and nursing just fine, as long as I wasnt around.
Combining all my mom experience between these three babies that nursed for a year, and all my pediatric occupational therapy tricks from helping other moms, Ive got you covered with 11 tips that will serve as your guide for exactly how to get a breastfed baby to take a bottle.
Babies Fed With Formula
For formula-fed babies, the number of feeds and the amount they drink at each feed varies too. Formula tins provide a guide on how much formula infants need for their age, but it’s only a guide and might not suit your baby.
Some babies need more than the required amount for their age and size, and others never drink that much. As long as your baby is active, has plenty of wet nappies, and is gaining weight over time, all is well.
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Try The Pacifier Switch
When I was researching ideas to get a breastfed baby to drink from a bottle, the pacifier switch is one of the suggestions I discovered.
The premise is simple:
- Give baby a pacifier to soothe them and initiate the sucking reflex.
- Once baby is content and vigorously sucking on their pacifier, remove and replace with your prepared bottle.
- Baby is already sucking, so the milk goes into their mouth and they are drinking from the bottle before they have a chance to fight it.
Ill admit I was a bit skeptical, but I gave my husband these simple instructions to try when I left the house for a couple hours.
When I returned home, my husband said that it was their most successful bottle feeding attempt yet! While she hadnt finished the entire bottle, our daughter did drink a good bit. Most importantly, she was still a happy baby when I got home!
With more practice , I think we will be well on our way to getting our baby to drink from a bottle consistently and happily.
Do you have any tips that helped you get your breastfed baby to drink from a bottle? Help a mama out and share in the comments below!
I was asked by Carusele to participate in the #NURSHOnAmazon campaign, sponsored by Boon on Amazon. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.
Why Do Some Babies Refuse A Bottle
Some breastfed babies just do not take to bottles and establishing bottle acceptance can be tricky, the strategies you may use will depend on the age of your baby. There are many differences between breast and bottle-feeding they include
The mechanics. How your baby uses its muscles to drink and swallow
Flow: The way the milk flows from a breast and bottle is different
Function: At the breast the baby has multiple needs met such as comfort, sleep, nutrition and thirst. Bottle feeding is more typically solely for nutrition and the other needs are met in different ways.
The person: Mother vs other caregivers
As infants are creatures of habit it may take time and practice to learn to feed a different way and make a different association with sucking. Here are some tips that can help
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What Can You Do If Your Baby Won’t Take A Bottle
If your baby won’t take a bottle, you might try to:
- Assess the health of the baby’s mouth for sores, thrush, and new teeth. A sick baby that isn’t drinking milk needs to see the pediatrician immediately.
- For a healthy baby, place them in a baby carrier facing out.
- Take them for a walk.
- Gently pat them up and down to distract and calm them down.
- Place the bottle of warm mother’s milk in the mouth.
- Keep walking as long as the baby is calm until they drink.
These steps relax the baby and hopefully trigger their natural reflex to suck. This is the number one recommended way and it worked for our daughter. Keep reading to learn more details and additional methods to help get a baby to drink from a bottle or sippy cup.
Though you might have trouble transitioning your baby from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding, it is indeed possible with the right techniques and a little patience.
Keep The Bottle Horizontal
Gently place the teat into the babys mouth. Keep the bottle in a horizontal position . This will allow the milk to flow steadily and help prevent your baby from taking in air.
If the teat goes flat while you’re feeding, pull gently on the corner of your baby’s mouth to release the suction.
If the teat gets blocked, replace it with another sterile teat.