Ask Motherly: How do you help a breastfeeding baby take a bottle?

Motherly's co-founders offer game-changing, life-changing advice for nursing moms who want to introduce a bottle. (Because mama, we've been there).

how to help a breastfed baby take a bottle
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Editor's note: Sometimes you just need input from an experienced mama who *gets* it. Ask Motherly is a new advice column by Motherly's co-founders, Liz Tenety and Jill Koziol. Have a question for Liz and Jill? Email it to us at [email protected].

Are there any tips to help an exclusively breastfed baby take a bottle?

Confession: my exclusively breastfeeding babies always hate taking bottles! So I checked in with our resident midwife Diana Spalding, CNM, who is also (among other things) a pediatric nurse and lactation counselor, for some guidance to manage the tricky transition.

Here's what Diana had to say:

Introduce the bottle around 6 weeks, if possible. This is the point when breastfeeding is well established, but baby may still be able to learn. Some moms who wait longer find their little ones aren't interested in the bottle nipple.

Ask someone else to offer the bottle. And mom may need to leave the room.

Try when the baby is hungry, but not SUPER hungry. If the baby is "hangry" they'll be too upset and it will be harder to interest them in the bottle.

Experiment with different bottle and nipple styles, including different flow speeds. This can take a while and is often a bit of trial and error with each kid.

Try feeding in a few different places. It might help to leave the house or go to a different room in the house, for example, than the place where baby normally breastfeeds. Also, experiment with noise levels and different levels of distraction. Sometimes a baby needs to really concentrate to take a bottle (so quiet would be best), but sometimes if they are a little distracted they won't notice that they are getting a bottle instead of a breast.

Think outside the bottle. If bottle feeding doesn't work, you could try spoon-feeding or cup-feeding instead.

I'd also add a tip I read on the amazing KellyMom expert breastfeeding website that suggested feeding baby while sitting up, which helped us a bit also.

If you're looking for other ways to make bottle feeding easier, you can pick up a Baby's Brew Portable Bottle Warmer at the Motherly Shop, which helps warm up bottles on the go and is a lifesaver for many mamas.

Motherly


Baby's Brew

Portable Bottle Warmer Set

$80

Bökee

Bottle Holder

$20
Essential gear for the bottle feeding transition

And if all else fails, you can do what I did; wait until they can take a sippy cup (around 6-8 months) and skip the bottle altogether.

Rooting for you and baby!

Jill + Liz

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