My breastfed baby won’t take a bottle. What should I do?”

So many moms struggle with getting their breastfed baby to accept a bottle. This is mainly because breastfed babies know that their milk comes from mommy’s breasts so sucking on a foreign nipple can be a little odd.

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Why Do I Need to Give My Breastfed Baby a Bottle?

When you are a breastfeeding mom, you may wonder why you would ever need to give your breastfed baby a bottle. But having the ability to get a bottle of breast milk can definitely come in handy for a few reasons. For instance, being able to get your baby to accept a bottle can

  • allow dad to bond while feeding your baby
  • give you the freedom to go back to work while still providing breast milk for your baby
  • let mom leave the baby at home for a few hours

Pumping Breast Milk

Now once you have decided that you want to start giving your breastfed baby a bottle you’ll have to learn about how to properly and effectively use a breast pump to pump your breast milk.

One great way to learn how to pump breast milk is with a pumping class like this one – Exclusive Pumping Class.

I personally love this class because it is taught by Stacey Stewart. She is a Certified Lactation Educator and also a mom of 3. She also has an extensive history of helping moms to learn how to breastfeed their babies from the start and to pump breast milk to feed them in a bottle. 

And by learning the ins and outs of breastfeeding and pumping by a certified lactation educator like Stacey, you’ll know that everything you learn there is vital to breastfeeding and bottle feeding your baby all from the comfort of your home and at your own pace.

And once you have learned about how to pump your breast milk, it’s time to learn how to get the baby to take a bottle.

Now at first some breastfed babies don’t like the bottle and prefer mom’s breasts, which is totally normal. But here are a few tricks I learned to get your breastfed baby to accept a bottle of breast milk.


1. Perfect Timing

I have always said that with kids timing is everything. And the same is true when you are trying to get your breastfeeding baby to take a bottle.

When you are first starting to breastfeed your baby, it’s important to learn how to just breastfeed your baby correctly in the beginning before trying to offer a bottle. This is mainly because your baby may get confused and just want to take a bottle rather than learning how to properly breastfeed.

So the question then becomes “When should I introduce the bottle to my breastfed baby?”

The general recommendation is to wait until you have been breastfeeding for 4-6 weeks so that breastfeeding is properly established.


2. Breastfeeding-Friendly Bottle and Nipples

Another thing to consider if you have started to introduce your breastfed baby to the bottle and they are refusing it is the type of bottle and nipple you are using.

Breastfed babies can be very picky about how the nipple feels so consider using breastfeeding-friendly bottles. I found that my breastfed baby loved these bottles. 

So try different types of bottle nipples. Sometimes a baby will prefer one nipple over another.


3. Let Someone Else Bottlefeed

“My breastfed baby is refusing bottle from me”

This is super common. I found that in the beginning, my son would not take a bottle of breast milk from me. I think that was mostly because I am the one who breastfeeds and I’m sure that was weird that I was trying to give him a foreign nipple rather than my own. 

Your baby may look at you like you’re crazy also like “this isn’t where my milk comes from.”

So we found that getting dad or another relative to give him a bottle of breast milk worked much better. He still gave some puzzled looks but soon learned that he could get breast milk from a bottle as well.


4. Offer Bottle After Breastfeeding

One huge tip is to only offer a bottle of breast milk before your baby gets upset. This is because when your baby is really hungry they will probably only want to breastfeed from mom.

So if you can try to breastfeed for the first half of a feeding and then offer a bottle that may make it a bit easier for your baby to accept.


5. Express Some Breast Milk on the Bottle Nipple

Breastfed babies know exactly what mom’s breast milk tastes like. So if your baby is really having a hard time taking a bottle, try to express some of the milk out onto the bottle nipple and see if they will try it then.

Once your baby learns that it’s mom’s breast milk they are more likely to start accepting the bottle.


6. Warm Breast Milk Up

How are you serving the bottle of breast milk? Are you warming it up or serving it at room temperature?

Breast milk is always warm from the breast so babies expect to have warm milk all the time. So if you have frozen or chilled the breast milk try either putting the bottle into a bottle warmer or a bowl of hot water to warm it up for your baby.


7. Hold Baby in a Nursing Position

If your breastfed baby isn’t getting comfortable while taking a bottle, try laying or sitting them in a breastfeeding position.

So try using a Boppy Pillow and getting them up to breast level to see if that makes a difference. 


8. Offer Bottle While Mom is Away

Like I said, most breastfed babies know that mom provides the milk and if they know that she is around they are less likely to accept a bottle. So try to get out of the house for a little while to see if your baby will take a bottle of breast milk while you are accessible.

This worked wonders for my breastfed baby.

And once you can start leaving your breastfed baby for longer periods of time, you can go back to work and continue pumping breast milk during the day for your baby.

I love the class – Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class

also by Stacey Stewart about learning how to pump breast milk for your baby while being a full time working mom.


9. Consult a Lactation Consultant

If after all of these tips you are still having trouble getting your breastfed baby to accept a bottle of breast milk, consult your lactation consultant.

Lactation consultants have been there and often know several different ways to help you and your baby to learn all you need to know about bottle-feeding your breastfed baby.

And if there is a problem or a certain reason that your breastfed baby is not taking a bottle, a lactation consultant can help you diagnose the problem.


10. Don’t Give Up

One last piece of advice I can give you is to keep at it and never give up. Some breastfed babies just take longer than others to take a bottle and that’s ok.

So try again every so often and make some small changes to see if any of them help your breastfeeding baby to take a bottle of breast milk.

Is your breastfed baby refusing a bottle? What tricks have you tried?

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