Help! My Baby Won’t Take the Bottle! What Should I Do?
When your baby is won’t take the bottle and is refusing to drink breast milk or formula from it, it can be beyond stressful! You may have a newborn that is unable to breastfeed properly, or you may have decided against breastfeeding for personal reasons.
If your new baby won’t take the bottle, you’re worried about how they are going to get any food! Perhaps you have an older baby and are trying to ween them off of breastfeeding and switch to bottle feeding. Or, maybe, it is time for you to return to work and your baby will be cared for by someone else during the day that will have to feed them with a bottle.
What can you do when your baby won’t take the bottle and to relieve some of your stress? Below, we have some great suggestions for you to try. These should help your baby, whether they are a newborn, or a 9 month old, learn to drink from a bottle.
Have Someone Other Than You Try to Give the Bottle
Many babies associate their mother with breastfeeding. So, when mom tries to give them the bottle, the baby won’t take the bottle and wants nothing to do with it. They want what they know, the warm comfort of their mother’s breast.
If you have a baby not taking the bottle, let someone other than you try to give your baby the bottle. They won’t immediately smell your milk when they are in someone else’s arms and may be more likely to give the bottle a try!
Leave the House!
In addition to asking someone else to feed your baby the bottle, sometimes it might help more if you actually leave the house, leaving your baby alone with the person trying to feed them. If you’re home, even in a different room, your baby can often smell your milk.
If you’re not around, they won’t be able to smell your milk and won’t think that breastfeeding is an option, so they may be more likely to take the bottle. So, if your baby won’t take the bottle, let yourself escape for some free time while dad or someone else tries to give baby the bottle
Find a Quiet and Calm Place
If you have a baby not taking the bottle, try changing the location you’re feeding them. Especially as your baby gets older, they can get very distracted and want to look at everything around them.
If you’re in a room with a lot of people or other distractions, try taking them into a quiet and dim space to try to feed them. This calmer environment should help when your baby won’t take the bottle.
Try Another Bottle Style
The reason your baby won’t take the bottle could be related to the bottle you are using. They may not like the size or shape of the bottle. Look for a different brand or style to try.
If your baby has been breastfeeding, there are some bottles that are designed to mimic the shape and feel of a breast that you could try first.
Try a Different Nipple Size
Additionally, the nipple size and flow could be contributing to why you have a baby not taking the bottle. You may need to move up to a larger nipple size with a faster flow.
However, if you plan to still do some breastfeeding, you’ll want to be careful. You don’t want your baby to get too used to a much faster flow and then begin to refuse breastfeeding. Each manufacture is slightly different, but below are the general ages recommended for different nipples.
- Slow Flow Nipple: 0 to 3 months
- Medium Flow Nipple: 3 to 6 months
- Fast Flow Nipple: 6 to 12 months
Warm Up the Breast Milk or Formula
Fresh breast milk is warm and this is what your baby may be used to. They may be rejecting the bottle because the milk is colder than what they are used to.
Try warming up the milk or formula you are offering if your baby won’t take the bottle. This will help get it closer to the milk they are used to getting from your breast.
Have Your Baby Checked for a Tongue or Lip Tie
If your newborn seems to be having trouble sucking from a bottle (and possibly from your breast too), it may mean that they have a tongue or lip tie. A tongue or lip tie could be the reason behind why your baby won’t take the bottle. You can check with your pediatrician, a lactation consultant, or a pediatric dentist to see if they have a tie that needs to be fixed. If they do have a tongue or lip tie, fixing it is a simple procedure.
Just be prepared for your baby to need to re-learn how to eat after the procedure is completed and don’t expect a huge change in their eating ability overnight!
Meet with a Lactation Consultant or Feeding Specialist
If your newborn baby won’t take the bottle or is having trouble taking a bottle, they may need added support to learn how to drink from a bottle. A lactation consultant can offer tips for achieving a good latch on a bottle in addition to tips for breastfeeding.
A feeding specialist can teach you exercises you can do with your baby to help them learn to latch to the bottle better, successfully transfer milk, and swallow the milk. You can always talk to your pediatrician and see if they recommend seeing a feeding specialist or lactation consultant to help your baby learn how to drink from a bottle.
Try to stay patient! If your baby won’t take the bottle, it likely won’t immediately change overnight! You’ll need to be consistent and try a few different strategies to find the one that works best for you and your baby.
Additionally, if you’re stressed or anxious about getting your baby to take a bottle, your baby is going to pick up on your stress, which will make them less likely to want to change the way they eat!
When you have a baby not taking the bottle, it can definitely be a big stress! Hopefully some of our suggestions can help your baby learn to drink from a bottle.