by maipham

May 21, 2020

You are about to get back to work, which means you have to carry the breast pump with you and try to stick with your pumping schedule.

If you are lucky, you can keep giving your baby breast milk 100% for the next couple of months. 

Only there is an issue that you did not see coming.

Your baby is not drinking milk from bottles. 

You try and try and try, but he resists. He cries aloud when you try to force the bottle nipple in between his pursed lips, he ends up choking on the milk and cries even louder. This time, you have to hold him up, pat his back and pamper him.

Oh boy, what do you do?

Many moms have to go spoon feeding their little babies. Can you imagine how hard it will be?

In this article, we will find out why your baby refuses the bottle, and what you can do to smoothly introduce the bottle to him.

The top 5 reasons why your baby refuses the bottle

  • The milk flow from the bottle is too strong, making your baby choke and scared.
  • He knows mommy’s breasts are right there and he wants breasts.
  • Your baby is attached to you and simply doesn’t want to leave your side.
  • The milk is not at the right temperature or smells different from fresh breast milk.

How to prevent bottle refusal

Most newborn babies will accept milk from a bottle. Newborn babies have sucking reflexes when they feel something in their mouth. If you introduce bottles to a newborn baby, he will learn the skill to get milk from a bottle.

Once your baby grows bigger and the sucking reflexes disappear, if he has little or no prior experience with eating from a bottle, he might refuse bottle-feeds. 

However, if you insist on giving him milk from a bottle all the time, he will soon forget how to latch on your breasts. Because latching on a breast is very different from latching on a bottle. He will likely refuse direct breastfeeding.

To prevent bottle and breast refusal, the best thing you can do is to introduce both methods to your little one at a young age (less than 3 months old).

If you prioritize breastfeeding, then you should give your little one bottle at least once a day with just a little milk.

What to do when your baby is not drinking from bottles

Create a calm, quiet and comfortable environment

Just like breastfeeding, babies need to feel relaxed, calm, and comfortable to eat. This is especially true when you are trying to introduce the bottle for the first time.

Try to create the same quiet and peaceful environment for your baby. That way your baby can focus on drinking and have a better chance of success.

Change the position 

Just like breastfeeding, make sure you hold your baby gently but firmly in the crook of your elbow with a slight incline. This is the best position to feed your little one as it helps air bubbles rise during burping, and it also creates the same bonding between moms and babies, even without breasts involved.

Using the right nipple size and check the milk flow

Many babies choke once or twice with a bottle. Because the milk flow is too fast for them. However, once your baby grows bigger, he can get frustrated when the milk doesn’t flow as fast as he wants.

Make sure you check the flow rate of the bottle. You can buy different nipples for the same bottle. You should get the one that is most breast-alike, and with similar milk flow as your breast.

Make sure the milk temperature is right

Many babies don’t mind cold breast milk. You can just get the milk straight from the fridge to give it to your baby. However, many babies do mind cold milk.

Check with your baby a few times to see if it’s the milk temperature that he hates. If that is the case, make sure you warm up the milk before giving it to him.

You can use a baby bottle steamer to do the job, or can just run it under warm water for a few minutes, or let it soak in warm water.

Never heat the milk by putting it in a microwave. This can cause “hot spots” in the milk that can burn you or baby, and the high heat destroys some of the nutrients.

Ask your partner or relative or someone else to give the bottle to your baby while you stay away

Link to why do my baby cry with me more than with others?

Babies are very smart. Sometimes they refuse the bottle because they smell your scent and your milk right next to them. And they prefer that sweet, warm and fresh milk over some milk coming out oh a bottle!

If this is the case, try letting your partner or caregiver give the bottle to your baby. You might have to go out of the room so he can focus!

Give him the bottle when he is sleepy

Many babies don’t resist so much when they are sleepy. Because when sleepy, they have a strong need for sucking and drinking milk, at that time, he can go for pretty much anything that satisfies his need for sucking and drinking.

If a bottle can give them those things, chances are, he will be more than happy to take it.

However, don’t give your baby the bottle when he is sleeping. We want him to put his guard down, while still knowing what is going on around him.

Try giving him the sippy cup instead of milk bottles

If your baby doesn’t want the bottle, try to change the milk bottle to a sippy cup. With a faster and stronger milk flow, and a different design, sippy cups are great alternatives for milk bottles.

Be patient

If after everything, your baby is still not drinking milk from bottles, then don’t force him. Especially when he is upset. 

Try again every hour or so. If your baby is more than 6 months old, you can use the bottle for water too. Once he is hungry and thirsty, he will take the bottle. 

Most importantly, don’t panic. Healthy babies will not starve themselves. They will find or try a way to get some food when they are hungry enough.

Feeding time is the connection time

For babies, feeding is not simply for food and nutrition. It is also an intensely emotional connection and bonding between baby and mom (or dad, or anyone who takes care of the baby)

Feeding, whether breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, helps your baby feel secure, safe, and loved, knowing their needs are being met.

So even if your baby is not drinking milk from bottles, you should not rush into forcing him. 

Be patient, be gentle, and trust your baby.

About the author 

Mai Pham

Mai Pham discovered her passion for writing a few years ago and she never stop thinking about it ever since. She finally took the leap and created Live a Worthy Life to brag about her smart ass (mainly just for fun). Enjoyed the fun writing brings, now with her new interest in everything-baby-related, she created Mommy Instinct, to tell mamas that it's ok that they mess up, that they don't know what the hell they are doing, and that it's okay to sit back and relax for a while.

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