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Three Ways to Get a Breastfed Baby to Take a Bottle

Updated on February 9, 2017

Here's How We Got Our Baby to Take a Bottle

Having a breastfed baby take a bottle is incredibly convenient (with formula or breastmilk), but it can be tricky. For the easiest transition, give babies (that have been breastfed from birth) a bottle no later than six weeks after they are born. After the six week period, most babies will want nothing to do with the bottle, but if you are attempting after this six week marker, I can help. We gave our daughter a bottle at six weeks (she took it beautifully), then we didn't give her a bottle on a consistent basis after this. At about 3 months old, we tried again and she wanted nothing to do with it.

We sought the expert advice of the best selling author of The Nursing Mother's Companion, Kathleen Huggins. She gave us these tips on dealing with a fussy baby that won't take a bottle. Here's what we did, and it worked!

Step 1: Prepare a Bottle of Breastmilk or Formula for the Baby

Prepare a Bottle of Breast Milk

For breastfed babies that won't take a bottle, it's best to use breast milk. However, if there isn't breast milk available, then use a bottle made with formula.

Prepare a bottle that is the same temperature as mother's milk. It's important to follow the guidelines for creating a bottle that is free of bacteria for the baby.

  • Wash your hands before touching the bottle
  • Make sure all bottle parts have been sterilized
  • Follow the instructions to create the bottle from formula or make sure the breast milk was properly pumped and stored before adding it to the bottle
  • Be sure to use a low flow bottle nipple, preferably a number 1.
  • Milk should be warm to the touch. Once warmed, shake the bottle for consistent temperature. You can put a small amount of milk on the inside of your wrist to check temperature. Do NOT microwave the milk as there can be parts of the milk that are extremely hot.

One of the few things worse than a baby that is refusing to eat is a sick one, so be sure that the bottle is prepared properly!

Step 2: Take the Baby for a Walk in a Baby Holder Facing Out

Go for a Walk with your Baby in a Carrier like a Baby Bjorn

Now that you have your bottle ready, it's time to get started. Let's go for a stroll!

  • Take your baby for a casual walk. If your baby is upset she will likely begin to calm down.
  • Face the baby outward in the baby holder where she can see and become distracted. This is especially important if the mother is taking the baby for a walk. Having the baby's head facing the mother's breast on the walk should be avoided. It's best if someone other than the mother attempts these steps as it can be more difficult for a mother to bottle feed a baby when the infant is used to breastfeeding from her.
  • The Baby Bjorn is a great carrier because it frees up both of the hands of the person walking the baby. You will see why this is important in the next steps.

Step 3: Using One Hand, Gently Pat the Baby from Underneath

While Walking, Gently Pat the Baby From Underneath

Using one of your free hands, reach under the baby and gently and slowly pat her on the bottom raising her up and down about an inch. Find an easy rhythm to your patting. This bouncing motion soothes and will likely distract her. Do this for at least a few minutes until the baby appears to be calm and relaxed. You can calmly talk or sing to your her, too. You want your child to be calm and relaxed before you give them a bottle. A sleepy baby is fine, but, as most parents know, there is a fine line between being sleepy and overly tired and fussy. A crying child is unlikely to take the bottle. If your baby gets to this point, you will want to try again at another time so you both don't end up frustrated and unhappy.

Step 4: Put the Bottle in the Baby's Mouth and Hold Steady for Sucking

Getting the Baby to Suck from the Bottle

It is now time to get your baby to drink milk from the bottle.

  • While your baby is calm and distracted, slip the bottle into her mouth with your free hand.
  • Continue to pat her on the bottom to keep her moving up and down. It's very common for babies to let the bottle rest in their mouth for several moments. We are relying on the baby's natural sucking reflex. The idea is that she isn't thinking about eating, but with the fresh air from the walk, and the bouncing motion, her instinctive sucking reflex will kick in, and she will begin to drink the milk.
  • Continue walking and patting the baby with the bottle in her mouth until she begins to drink.

If your baby doesn't drink the bottle right away or pushes it away, remove the bottle from her view and continue to walk and pat her. You can try again in a few minutes. Talk gently to her; this is supposed to be a positive experience. If you get frustrated or angry, she could equate those emotions with the bottle. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, (which happens to even the most experienced parents and caregivers) try again another day.

Once a Baby Takes a Bottle, Continue to Give 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 6 weeks and we thought she wouldn't have any problems in the future, but that wasn't the case. At 3 months she wouldn't take the bottle and we had to seek the advice of the expert. 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 it - frustrating.

A Second Way to Get Your Baby to Take a Bottle: Dream Feeding with a Bottle

Dream feeding is feeding the baby by bottle or breast after she has gone to bed at night but hasn't woken up for the first nighttime feeding. Dream feeding is done while the baby is mostly asleep. Often parents will dream feed a baby right before they go to bed to help their child sleep through the night and allow the parent a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep. The benefit of giving a baby a bottle during this dream feeding stage is that the baby is more likely to rely on the sucking reflex and isn't as aware of the circumstances. We tried this method as well and it worked... sometimes.

Here's how we did it. My wife would pick the baby up while she was asleep and begin nursing her. Then, after she had sufficiently latched on to the breast, she stopped nursing and quickly placed the bottle in her mouth. If she started sucking, she would usually finish the bottle of milk. Sometimes the baby is so tired they will not take the bottle and will go back to sleep.

A Third Technique to Try to Get a Baby to Take a Bottle

Since my wife had success with getting our daughter to take a bottle by switching from the breast to the bottle while dream feeding, I decided to try a similar technique that worked as well.

  • I placed my daughter on my legs with my feet propped up so she was at a 45 degree angle
  • I gave her a pacifier for about five seconds - just long enough for her to stop crying and start sucking.
  • I removed the pacifier from her mouth, and I switched in the bottle in less than half a second.
  • Bingo! She was drinking like a champ from the bottle.

I think the key to having success with a bottle is capitalizing on the sucking reflex and not just giving the baby the bottle. 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, she started the sucking reflex.

It was our experience that inspired me to create this guide. Please leave a comment about your experience to help other people in similar situations.

Try Switching Out a Pacifier for a Bottle

The magic pacifier that we start with
The magic pacifier that we start with
Pull the pacifier and insert the bottle
Pull the pacifier and insert the bottle
Keep the bottle tilted up so she doesn't get air when she sucks
Keep the bottle tilted up so she doesn't get air when she sucks

Additional Tips for Getting a Baby to Take a Bottle

  • Try holding the baby (someone other than the mother) in a nursing position and giving her a bottle
  • Smile at your baby and talk to her in an encouraging way as you give them the bottle.
  • Have mom leave the house. Babies can smell their mom and may be more willing to take the bottle if she's not around.
  • Don't wait until your baby is extremely hungry or tired. Usually this tactic won't work and will leave everyone upset and exhausted.
  • Try different types of bottle nipples. Sometimes a baby will prefer one nipple over another.
  • If you are frustrated and find yourself getting upset - STOP and try again at another time.
  • Talk to your doctor or a lactation specialist if you continue to struggle getting your baby to take a bottle. There are wonderful, free resources like the La Leche League.

Take note...

Giving a baby a bottle multiple times a day in the first weeks of their life can result in the baby not wanting to breastfeed and the mother's milk supply to decrease. Most bottle nipples dispense milk quicker than a breast and babies may prefer them. I wouldn't advice giving a baby a bottle until you have talked to your doctor, the mother's milk has sufficiently come in, and the baby is comfortable nursing (around 6 weeks). After 6 weeks, one bottle every day or two is usually sufficient for the baby to continue taking the bottle for the next year.

Always talk to your pediatrician before giving your child a bottle or if you have any concerns.

Why Should I Give My Baby a Bottle?

There are multiple reasons you may want to give your child a bottle:

  • Provide mom a bit of freedom and sleep!
  • Give dad/grandma/grandpa/sibling another way to bond with baby
  • Mom is going back to work and baby will be transitioning to child care
  • Mom is going away for a few days
  • Mom's milk production isn't sufficient for the health of the baby

Questions & Answers

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      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 11 days ago from Burlingame, CA

        @Lisa, Once the dream feeding method worked, it wasn't long till the other techniques worked.

        I highly advise trying the walking and feeding method during her feeding time. Other than that, it was just patiently trying till our daughter was comfortable with bottle.

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        Lisa 11 days ago

        Thank you for an awesome post--- this has been more helpful than the other info out there. Question for you, how did you transition from the dream feed to getting your baby to take the bottle during her usual feeding session? Thanks so much!

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 2 months ago from Burlingame, CA

        Did you try the method where you take them for a walk facing out, pat them from underneath, then give them the bottle as you continue to walk. Fill the bottle with breastmilk if you can.

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        Tshepang 2 months ago

        What to do if the baby doesnot like both the pacifier and bottle. I am frustrated because i am going to back to work in a weeks time. We have tried different tits but neither of them works. Its been over a week now

      • profile image

        Nobukhosi 3 months ago

        Thank you very much for your advice course I'm stressed going back to work in two weeks to come and my baby doesn't want to drink milk from the bottle but I will try some of your advice.

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 6 months ago from Burlingame, CA

        @Melanie, I've had a lot of moms and dads say the Kathleen Huggins method worked for them.

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        Melanie 6 months ago

        First off, I want to say THANK YOU for posting these tips that are DIFFERENT than the generic advice spouted off on most other websites and by our pediatrician, lactation consultants etc. I have not tried your methods YET, but worth a shot!

        I'm going back to work this week and about a week ago our almost 3 month old breastfed baby decided she didn't want a bottle anymore. She had been taking one a day for a month and a half with hardly any problems. We'll have good luck with a bottle one day and the next she doesn't want it. Happened with Breastflow bottle, MAM bottle, sippy cups etc. Also tried cup feeding (still going to keep attempting... although tedious, I think it's a learned technique), spoon feeding...

        Will try your methods and report back!

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        Quick 2 years ago

        We had been giving a bottle sine 3 weeks old and at 3 months she suddenly refuse. Finally, after about 2 weeks, we started getting her to take one... but I won't lie, some days are still easier than others. We've learned that we need to give her a practice bottle every day, whether I'm working or not. Despite a lot of advice for mom not to be in the room, I was actually the one who had success first. First we found that a playtex nipple, instead of silicone, was key. I read about a Playtex nipple and punching extra holes to mimic the breast but ended up finding a Gerber nipple that already had multiple holes - they are the brown nipples. I think she likes them better because they are softer. Then we found something to distract her. First it was a lamp that she likes to stare at, then a poster then it was while my son was playing Minecraft, then it was outside. We just keep changing it up. Whatever works, right?! Alao found better luck as soon as she woke from naps or while she was falling asleep. Now, as long as shes ina good mood, she'll usually accept it. That's right. Usually. If not. We wait and try again later. We've even had success with her taking one while shes in the bath! She doesnt like to be cuddled when bottle feeding. Usually gacing out or at a 45 degree angle facing whoever is feeding her - thats while shes staring off into whatever is distracting her. It is getting easier and easier. We were desperate and trying everything and this is what worked for us! Good luck everyone! Keep trying different things, eventually something will work. Oh, and we'd always have a bottle ready, slightly warmer than room temp. If she had to wait for it, it wouldn't work. We just warm it in the warmer and leave it out until she was ready.

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        Mother Rabbit 4 years ago

        I have a 5 month old exclusively bf baby. We tried bottle feeding first time when she was three months old. That was ok and only expressed milk. At that time she enjoyed taking a pacifier during tired periods just before sleeping.

        We stopped the bottle feeding to avoid colic,as she had some reflux issues. reflux now at 5 is gone and plan to start overlapping breast for bottle so she is ready to do only bottle feeding by 6 months. Have tried a couple of days with bottle and is just a constant cry! She seems to have forgotten how to suckle and just tugs at the botthe teat instead of suckling. She has stopped using pacifiers for comfort for nearly a month. She just tugs at them just like she does with the bottle.

        Formula flavour is ok, as she drinks it if offered on a tiny cup ( lots of mess) or by spoons.

        How can I triggerthesuckling on bottle again?

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        Nessthemess 5 years ago

        I have had trouble with getting our son onto the bottle as I have been part time studying (8hrs per week) since he was 6weeks old. He's now nearly 5months old and we kept trying different bottles/teats. I found a bottle at the store that explained that baby's instinctively like this type of teat. The brand of this bottle is MAM. I tried him after a full feed from the breast with sugar water (because I didn't want to waste yet another lot of EBM) and voila! He drunk it with no problem. We tried him for the first time with formula tonight with no problem either. As I am going to be studying 20hrs per week from July, he'll be 6months old, we are weaning him to formula. His solids are mixed with formula so he gets used to the taste. Good luck everyone!

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        Proudmommmy 5 years ago

        My daughter is 3months she doesn't take the bottle nor the pacifire whatsoever $6 all she wants is the boob what can I do?

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        Kim 5 years ago

        2nd bottle, 110mls. I'm using Tommy tippie bottles with large teat. Just lay her on a pillow on lap with head raised slightly and she has her head turned to side like she does when bf. I sing the alphabet which seems to work and talk about how great she is for having the bottle. She loves her routines so I'm hoping she will soon love the new change.

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        Kim 5 years ago

        Yay! 40mls of bottle down. Had been trying only at night(bedtime) so decided to be confident and give first thing in morning. Talked, praised and sang. Let's hope my 4mo does it again next feed.

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        Have you tried walking him and patting him gently from underneath while he sits facing outward in a baby borne type sling? I'm two for two with this method.

      • profile image

        country momma 5 years ago

        I have done every trick there is known to man and my 8 1/2 month old will NOT take a bottle or a Sippy or a binky or a cup he is a straight boobie baby but the last two days he has been biting, grinding and pulling with his 4 teeth, I am in so much pain and it's a battle to get him to take anything besides drinking from me

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        Try walking him face out in a baby pack, patting him on the bottom gently with one hand while you put the pacifier in his mouth with the other hand.

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        Arielle 5 years ago

        What if the baby doesn't take to a pacifier either? (Hence the case with my son)

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        Desperate 5 years ago

        My baby is 3 months old (14 weeks) I've been trying since she was 8 weeks old to give her a bottle...I've tried every and nipple under the sun...the sitter has been trying the last week still nothing....I have no idea what to do

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        Jessica 5 years ago

        My daughter started taking a Dr.Brown's bottle (level 1 nipple) at almost 4wks and took one about every other day. Then she suddenly stopped taking the bottle at 9wks. We have tried switching nipple levels, we've tried playtex ventair bottles with slow and fast nipples, and now the slow flow nuk bottle. Nothing works, the lactation consultants have not helped, and I have to go to work tomorrow!!! Isn't 11wks a little young to try cup feeding? I don't know what else to do except cry right along with her!

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        Maria 5 years ago

        Help. My 4 month old daughter was taking one bottle a day of breast milk. I decided to try formula and she complete refused it! Now she won't even take the bottle at all even with breast milk. HELP! I feel like I totally confused her and I ruined a good thing. I was able to go out with her freely and give her a bottle. Now I have to worry about where I can find privacy to breastfeed her. How do I get her to realize that it's my milk in the bottle and not formula??

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        Sammy 5 years ago

        Hi everyone,

        When my first daughter was 9 months and I needed to go back to work, she refused to take a bottle. I tried many of the tips above such as different teats, temperatures, positions, etc. Nothing worked. In the end I continued to breastfeed her at 6am (before leaving for work) and I would also wake her at 10pm for a "dream feed". During the day at nursery her only fluids came from a doidee cup ( a kind of tilted open top cup) that I managed to get her to take water from. I would recommend give up the bottle once you have tried all the tips above and try an open top cup instead. Most babies over 6 months can manage this and breast fed babies seem to be naturally good at open top cup. I hope this helps somebody. Good luck to you all you mums about to return to work! xxx

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        Russell 5 years ago

        Carol, Don't be so cocksure and unsympathetic. More is expected from someone purporting to be a professional consultant in such an important area as child rearing.

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        rymom1 6 years ago

        I just wanted to say thank you for the info and your baby is just beautiful.

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        Carol  6 years ago

        I am an IBCLC and it is interesting to me that everyone, regardless of the baby's age, thinks they have to take a bottle. All babies can learn to drink from a cup and this may be a better answer than struggling with the bottles. Working, Pregnancy and other reasons are not a reason to stop breastfeeding. Babies need to be breastfed through the first year and longer if mom and baby desire. I'm quite surpised more people don't seek out help from a Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

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        Rahul 6 years ago

        Very difficult!

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        shane 6 years ago

        i also have the same problem. i need to stop my baby from breastfeeding since i am pregnant and i had to do it as early as possible.but my son refuses to take the bottle when he wants to sleep. i've tried applying coffee and ginger on my breast but still, he won't stop.please help!

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        Beth 6 years ago

        I got a 'breastflow' bottle(available from amazon, mothercare-online and direct from the company)for my 6 week old and she went on it straight away no problems. The teat is built to work the breast and the baby latches on the same way as well so no danger of nipple confusion. I'd recommend trying this out gl :)

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        Gift 6 years ago

        My baby has been taking the bottle since day 3 from birth, he took it fine as he needed to be supplemented until i managed to pump more to have enough breastmilk for him. Despite him having the bottle everyday, as he gets older (hes now 11 weeks old)he always fuss and cry for at least 30 mins before taking the bottle, I give breastmilk via botle day time and only latch at night.

        he still cries hysterically with the bottle we're trying new different teats but still no luck any suggestion especially because he gets 5 bottles a day and has been since the beginning and I'm still having issues, please advise thanks!

        As for those who're having issues and your baby is already at least 6 months of age, please check out Dr Jack Newman website regarding this on returning to work, babies can drink from an open cup if you teach them how at that age. Good luck!

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        Akissa 6 years ago

        Hello. I have read some of your questions and the replys that got to solve your little problems it's was helpful to me for some tips Ive been searching for some good answers trying to put my 19 month yr old daughter on bottle, she was on breast since birth and it's been pretty tough but you gotta do it. Thanks for the advice. A

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        Lalli 6 years ago

        My baby is 4months old. I have been trying to give her bottle as I need to go to work in a couple of weeks. She refuses bottle and starts crying to such a level that I have to stop giving her bottle. I tried different kinds of nipples, but none worked. I am so worried as she is already underweight and I cant leave her any time as I need to feed her often. I tried this dream feeding way, and even her father tried the other methods but of no use. I am from India and there is no Lactation Consultant here. Help!

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        JennyAnn  6 years ago

        My baby is 2 months old(and breastfed)and she refuses to take a bottle for me. I've tried breastmilk and formula in the bottle but still no luck. I've tried different types of bottles with different types of nipples and again, no luck. She will not take a pacifier either and I've tried several different varieties of those as well. My husband has tried given her a bottle and she will drink about an ounce and then she starts to cry and she won't latch on again. Suggestions??

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        sakshi 7 years ago

        My baby is one year old,and i want him to stop breastfeeding,and go for bottle,but he never,i dont tried bottle at the time he was of months ,but trying now after he is of one year,i had tried many tumblers ,different bottles,but he dont accept,and due to her teeth my nipples are aching,what can i do.Please tell.

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        m&mommy 7 years ago

        My now 2 year old nursed and took a bottle like a champ so when my 5 month old refused the bottle I am at a loss as to how remedy the problem. O went back to teaching for 2 weeks when she was 6 weeks old and she took a bottle with little opposition. Can't say I really continued that over summer break. Now I'm paying for it. Ive been back for 4 weeks and take my prep and lunch to feed her. I'm lucky but I still need her to take something when I can't go feed her. Decided to skip the bottle altogether and do a sippy since she's old enough and better than getting her hooked on a bottle. She's not taking out well but is playing with it and will chew on the spout. I suppose that's half the battle... I don't push it just keep offering it, stay patient, and hope for the best. Remember babies are very intuitive and take on your emotions so stay calm and avoid getting nervous or hysterical. They' re also resilient, will eat when they're hungry, and above all WILL NOT remember this.. This to shall pass, as my very wise grandma tells me !

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        leigh.vonderembse 7 years ago

        My 4 and a half month old daughter is unwilling to take a bottle. I have tried different bottles and nipples and nothing seems to be working. I have tried giving it to her while breast feeding and while standing up, but it never fails. She will continue crying intil she gets the real thing.

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        Angela 7 years ago

        I have just started to succeed in getting my 4 month old son to take the bottle. He still wont take formula but will take breast milk. What worked for me is:

        warm the nipple up with hot water.

        feed him while walking and along with some white noise (i use the kitchen fan)

        persistence. I kept trying..and didn't give in...it took about 5 hrs but he eventually caved..

        now i have to figure out how to get him on formula. he is still waking every 2 hrs at night and i am hoping if i can suppliment with formula before bed i may get to sleep a bit more.!!

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        jan 7 years ago

        i need help!!! i have a 6 month baby who is fully breastfeed!!! i start going back to school on Monday 8/23/2010 and i don't know what to do. i tried everything from all the bottles in the world and still nothing. she eats baby food but after she wants the breasts she is like additive to it. any advice will help!

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        yeppie 7 years ago

        I have a 8 month old who will not take the bottle, have tried formula and breast milk in bottle, sippy cup, normal cup, water in bottle, not feeding him for a bit...

        Have also tried different bottles and feeding from his father

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        Robyn 7 years ago

        I have a 8 month old who will not take the bottle, have tried formula and breast milk in bottle, sippy cup, normal cup, water in bottle, not feeding him for a bit...

        Need advise as my milk is drying up real quick

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        yesenia 7 years ago

        my daughter is 4 months old and i want to go back to work soon i was told if i have the milk to just feed her but i was never told it was going to be this hard to get her to drink from a bottle afterwards ive tried many ways and bottle to feed her but no luck she just pushes it offf! :( any ideas that worked for anyone at this age.?

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        7 years ago

        my baby is 7.5 months - i tried for about 2 months to get her to take a bottle of anything (breast milk, formula, water) with no success. She used to have a bottle a week but I stopped pumping at 3 months due to a bad case of mastisis and when I tried it again a few weeks later, she refused. A few days ago I decided to go cold turkey and just stop breastfeeding to see if she would take the bottle. I soooo wish i hadn't as i was hugely engorged and it made me really sad. She still wouldn't take any formula and I was getting really worried, but today she took some from (wait for it!) an evian water bottle cap! crazy - she took the whole feed. I guess she didn't like any of the numerous bottles and sippy cups we tried, she just wanted a proper cup! maybe this will work with other babies in the same situation....

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        Lilly 7 years ago

        I was unaware how commen a problem this is. I also have tried almost every comment posted. My 6 month old girl refuses a bottle. I have been trying now for a few days and she has taken a bottle succesfully twice. once being with formula when she was tired right before bedtime. I think that the suggestion to let your baby play with a bottle is a good idea so they can familiarize themeselves with it. I also tried feeding her breastmilk from a syringe and she took it fine with no fuusing. I have heard if you do that and then put the cap back on the bottle they may be more willing to take it. It did not work for me. I ended up just feeding her half a bottle with the syringe. Sleepy feeds seem to be more successful so far. Hope she cooperates soon because I am starting back work and school. Am planning to stop breastfeedind because will have absolutely no time to pump in-between my alday class. Will post again if I find anything else that worked for me.

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        Padmini 7 years ago

        My son is 6 months and he was taking bottle up until 2 days ago when he stop taking it and even eating. I feel so sorry for him that i gave in to his demands which is to breastfeed him. I have tried everything possible but nothing seems to work. By the way he is my first and i don't know much about so guys please i need advice and i cant see my baby cries, when he cries i cry too.

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        Amanda 7 years ago

        I, too, have a "No Bottle Baby." I taught him at 10 weeks to take a bottle by not allowing him to nurse for his first morning feed. It took a couple of weeks and a lot of crying, but he finally got it.

        Unfortunately, I didn't reinforce the skill enough over the next few weeks, so when I tried to reintroduce it at 4 months of age, he had forgotten how to take it and became extremely frustrated. I gave up.

        Now I am trying again at 5 1/2 months of age. I am modeling all day long by sucking on an empty bottle and offering him his own bottle to suckle/play with. I am also feeding him from one breast and then offering him the bottle before giving him the second breast. I am having him watch other friends' babies drink from bottles, etc. He now seems interested and plays with the nipple, although he has yet to actually suck on it. I am hoping that we have success within a couple of weeks.

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        DT 7 years ago

        Not sure if someone has mentioned this already, but try having the baby suck on your finger first until s/he calms down and is almost asleep. This is the only thing that has really worked for us so far. My son is 4 months old and hasn't taken the bottle for the past month - we've tried fighting it out so many times over the past few weeks without any consistent results until now.

        The best position that works for him/us is to have him propped up against me (or my husband), reclined at a 45 degree angle or so, with my hand over but not touching his face and the tip of the index finger of that hand in his mouth (so that the pad of the finger is on the roof of his mouth). When he's hungry, he will suck on this finger vigorously and may take some time to calm down and relax, depending on how upset/hungry he is. As his arms start to relax, I gently try to tug the finger out, but not completely, at which point he always sucks it back in. When I think he's relaxed enough but not yet asleep, I pull the finger out and quickly replace it with the bottle (we're using Dr. Brown at the moment, but have tried Breastflow, Avent, Playtex, MAM and Tommy Tippee as well). I don't have to stick the nipple in his mouth - just bringing it to the edge of his lips is enough as he's searching for the finger to suck on at that point, and will suck in the bottle nipple. Voila! - He then drains the bottle from there.

        I should also note that he will also take the bottle after a deep sleep (like first feed of the day), but this doesn't work for us during other times of the day.

        I wish he would take the bottle cold turkey without me having to resort to the above-described trickery or waiting for him to be in a half-conscious state, but at least he's getting his nutrition. The dr assured us he wouldn't starve himself, but battling it out so often over such an extended period of time really got me worried about how little he was ingesting over the course of each day.

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        Brook 7 years ago

        Hello! I have a 7 month old who used to take a bottle while i was at work and breastfed when i was home. She is on her stage 2 foods and eating well. However, for the past week she has refused her bottle. We've tried it hot/cold, in a glass, in her sippy, in different bottles. She seems to know she can just wait 10+ hours until Mommy comes home and then will nurse all through the night. Any suggestions?

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        Christine 7 years ago

        Hi i have a 1 year old who is still fully breastfed i have tried litterally EVERYTHING he just will not take the bottle, i tried going straight to the sippy cup and he just takes a few sips and then hes done. i need to go back to work and i dont know what to do anymore its so exausting

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        Brittany 7 years ago

        Hi I have a 7 month old who used to take the bottle but now refuses. She doesn't even try to suck she just bites it and throws it aside but she looks so interested in it. I have tried so many different bottles with breast milk and formula's. She also doesn't take a dummy but used to. Any more tips you have would be greatly appreciated! Cheers :)

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        OSC 7 years ago

        My 3 month old daughter won't take the bottle from me or anyone else any time of the day. I tought I was alone, but seems I'm not. I was getting very nervous and even my daughter. She cried for 2 hours a day when i tried giving it to her. I nearly gave up. Seeing these comments I m going to continue with the trying and using some of the tricks. Aren't our kids wise!!!!!

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        kay 7 years ago

        hey well i enjoy breastfeeding and my breast milk is stopping my baby isn't getting enough she'll make the swallow noise about twice and she let go and start crying i try giving her my breast again and she'll get mad trying to get something out but nothing seems to come out and she wouldn't take the bottle i tried different nipples and i tried the pacifire thing and shes just not wanting anything but the breast and i don't know what to do to get my breast milk going again,,,help anyone.

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        7 years ago

        I've a 3 mth old who took the bottle happily at 4 weeks and then cleverly started rejecting it when she was 8-9 weeks. I came here to look for a couple of tips to try as I'll be back to work in a few weeks. Glad to say that we've successfully got her back on the bottle so I thought to come back here and share what we did.

        We bought NUK latex teats (previously tried with silicone teats and heard some say that latex teats are softer) which are also supposed to be shaped similar to a mother's nipple when the baby suckles. My full time helper (who's great with my baby!) then suggested that I stop letting my daughter latch for at least a full day (including night feeds) and that she would try and get the girl to suckle. I stayed as far away from baby as I could within my apartment and allowed my helper to take over.

        The first time she tried, my daughter wouldn't budge - she'd hold the nipple in her mouth, play with it, use her tongue to push it out ... anything but suck! She'd also wail in protest and at one time she even gripped the nipple in her mouth and fell asleep. Throughout this time, my helper would carry her, coax her gently, continually try putting the bottle nipple in her mouth, occasionally squirting some milk by hand into the mouth so the baby knew it was mommy's milk. If she started wailing, my helper would remove the bottle and coax her, play with her and do the things she enjoyed until she calmed down. If she fell asleep, my helper put her down and allowed her to sleep. We figured that over time she would get hungry enough to have to suck anyway.

        True enough, after about 5-6 hours of rejection, she took her first suck. She still kinda didn't want the bottle then so she was half playing with the nipple. But as she probably got quite tired of resisting and was also physically tired, she eventually started suckling and finished up the 1/2 oz (to my amazement!) I had to quickly run to get another bottle warmed!

        Throughout the rest of the day, we let my girl feed from the bottle. At nightfall before bedtime, I finally allowed her to latch happily (I really missed nursing her by this time!). I was a little concerned that we'd have problems again after allowing a latch on and was prepared to have the whole routine repeated on day 2. Well, I didn't need to worry as she took the bottle quite readily the next day (fussed initially for maybe 10 seconds). Towards the end of day 2, I decided to try bottle feeding her myself to see if she would kick a fuss and start searching. I was surprised that she didn't fuss very much and I managed to feed her the entire bottle!

        I've kept the same routine (which is what will happen when I return to work) for a week now - bottle in the day and latch on at night and so far it's worked well. And just to add, I pump at around the times I expect to be pumping at work just so my body gets conditioned.

        In retrospect, I think what really helped the bottle feeding was that my helper didn't force it on my baby. She allowed the baby to do whatever she liked, made her happy, and at the same time she kept persisting with the bottle at a stretch while squirting milk in every now and then (to prevent baby from dehydrating).

        Just my 2 cents worth. I hope this might be helpful :)

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        Briana Solomon 7 years ago

        I have a 5 month old stubborn female child...She will not take the bottle...she takes the milk form a spoon, syringe the doctor gave to me, and from a cup that i drink out of...but no no no to the bottle. HELP ME PLEASE!!!!

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        easyspeak 7 years ago from Vancouver

        We are currently trying to give our 2 month old a bottle for the first time. When she rejected it, I frantically came over here because I remember seeing the this last night on your profile when I was looking up how to write multiple hubs.

        She's on her mom at the moment. We'll try again soon...will let you know.

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        ajinder 7 years ago

        I've a similar problem 5 month baby a big No to the bottle ,i started working one month ago and my hubby gets the baby to work for nursing at least for one feed, its very difficult to go through this mess, she did take a bottle when she was few weeks old ans suddenly decides she would not anymore.I have tryied every nipple ,every tip i have come across,lactation consultants,nothing works! can someone help!!

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        Leanne 7 years ago

        I've been told that babies who'll take breast milk but not formula from a bottle can be fooled into drinking it by mixing a large amount of breastmilk with a small amount of formula, then once they're used to the taste gradually increase the formula amount, and decrease the breastmilk.

        My 6 month old also is refusing the bottle. He won't even drink water from it now. He's only ever had a bottle once and even then only 2oz. Worse, he's started biting the breast and because he's teething he's also refusing solids. I really want to stop breastfeeding now but I'm a little worried because I'm genuinely convinced his stubborn streak will land him in hospital if he doesn't get any milk. How long can a baby survive without milk? I don't want to still be breastfeeding a pre-schooler!

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        Oso 7 years ago

        I started trying a bottle with my baby girl when she was 3 months old. We tried every nipple, every fancy bottle and every technique. Everybody short of the mailman tried to feed her. After 4 weeks of trying every day, and absolutely no progress, I finally gave up.

        At 4.5 months I noticed she started to play with her mouth more, chewing on everything, including her tongue. I started giving her an empty sippy cup just for her to get used to it. I just rigged it up to hang from her bouncy chair so it was always there. She started to play with it when her hands got working better and she would ram it in her mouth here and there, until one day she started sucking on it. So I decided to fill up a bottle of breast milk, and voila she started chugging like nothing new.

        My advice it to just give your baby an empty bottle just to play with.

        When she finally did take the bottle, it was a regular nipple on a regular bottle. Now she doesn't even hesitate.

        Good luck!

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        cindy 7 years ago

        I guess I didn't realize how common of a problem this is! Great tips on here about starting the breast then quickly switching to the bottle. We are very frustrated but sticking with it & will try everything. We had some success today with a very small amount of rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula, very thin and just a small amount on the baby spoon & no screaming hunger today without Mom! Baby is 3.5 months so kind of early to start but just rice cereal and a calm baby. I will post when we have some success on what kind of nipple. We have yet to try the adiri & mam but will in the next two days.

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        kmapmommy 7 years ago

        My daughter is 6 months and yesterday we tried with the bottle and no luck. We have also tried with the sippy cup before but she wanted no part of it. She has been eating solids since 4.5 months and today she had prunes so I had some left in the fridge, here's what I did. . . . I know she really likes prunes so I took a clean finger and dipped it in her prunes and put it on her lip to taste, then smeared it all over the sippy cup spout with my breastmilk in it, tricking her into taking it, she kind of drank some but I had just breastfed her so she wasn't hungry but at least it got her to put the sippy in her mouth as opposed to turning her head and screaming! I am going to try this again tomorrow when she is hungry and see if I have any luck!

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        paula 7 years ago

        i also have a 5 month old girl that wont take anything other than breast,ive tried different nipples dummys,she is slow to gain weight so i want to top up with formula but she hates it and crys,im going to try leasving her with her dad on the weekend and see how she goes,where do you get the mam? im in new zealand and havnt heard of it?

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        csd1509 8 years ago

        good ideas.. i'm breastfeeding now for 8 months and baby won't take a bottle it's very hard to leave him alone..

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        FLEA 8 years ago

        I also have tried many types of bottles including Dr Browns and adiri, but just got the mam bottle and my little girl (5 months) took it immediately... we've had success with it for 2 days so far :) I definitely recommend the MAM!

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        Fara 8 years ago

        I have a six month old that I nanny. His mother has started classes a last week and she leaves at 5:30 in the morning, the father is a doctor and is hardly ever in the house, but when he is, he is really useless when it comes to feedings.

        The baby used to take a bottle of formula, his mothers milk has dried up, so he cant nurse, but now he refuses to take anything, even solid foods. Personally I think he is on a hunger strike because this is the first time he has ever really been away from mum. Every now and then she will "nurse" him, but there isn't really anything coming out, maybe half a quart.

        We are all afraid he is going to starve himself if he doesn't start taking something soon! should i just let him starve it out? It has been a real battle, holding the bottle in his mouth, giving him a Nuk and then swapping them out, I'm starting to think that hes going to be traumatized if it goes on any longer...

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        If she'll take a cup, have you tried a sippy cup? One thing we do with our daughter when putting her down for a nap is hanging a mobile above her crib, we give her a sippy cup of milk (cold), then we turn on white noise. If she cries, we pick her up, calm her down, then put her right down. Sometimes we put her down and just sit down and wait for her to fall asleep if it's a particularly challenging day. If we are there, that has a calming affect.

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        Stephanie 8 years ago

        I have a 6 month old, she accepted the bottle from 3 weeks until 2 months. At app 2 months she completely refused the bottle. I tried pumped milk, all different types of formula, different bottles/nipples, temperatures...everything! I don't go back to work for another 2 months but my issue is that I can not get her to go to sleep without nursing her! I tried the "no cry sleep solution" and the "cry it out" method - but she needs the nursing as her sleep cue. She will drink from a regular cup with her cereal but when it comes time for a nap she wants nothing but the breast, even though she is not hungry. I've tried rocking, walking, singing, my husband offering the bottle. I am at my wits end - and suggestions??

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        Nicole 8 years ago

        I have breastfed all three of my children. My last one is a challenge. I have been home longer with her and she breastfeds like a champ. I have given her bottles and she will take them from me. The big issue here is that she will not eat for anyone other then me. Please help I don't know what to do.

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        JJ 8 years ago

        Interesting that bottle refusal is such a common occurrence yet no-one warns you to wean the baby earlier. Along with breastfeeding I gave a supplementary bottle of formula or expressed milk (1 oz)with her reflux medication in it from 5 weeks every day, four times a day until baby was about 4 months and then she rejected the bottle. I have tried all ideas including different teats, bottles, times of day, temperature, people feeding and starving for 2 feeds for four days. The thing that seemed to have a little success was using the sippy cup after she had missed one feed and had not eaten for almost 6 hours. She would take the cup just enough to fill her up and then repeat the same thing the next day. My next step is probably now to go cold turkey and not offer any breastfeeds for an entire day (just water and solids for hydration), I think this may be the only way.

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        Holly 8 years ago

        I am trying to supplement breast milk and formula. My daughter is 15 weeks and I have only breastfed her until now. When I pump I can't seem to get more than 2 oz of milk in the bottle so I am supplementing with formula but she does not like the taste. I've tried different formula's but it just turns into a scream fest. any suggestions on introducing formula?

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        desperate 8 years ago

        Hi, my 2 1/2 month old will not take a bottle. He cries so hard, that after an hour, I end up breastfeeding him. I've been trying for 2 weeks now and am worried. I've tried all kinds of bottles and nipples, he does not use a pacifier. Help, I need to return to work in 2 weeks!

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        breastfedmom 8 years ago

        i am having the same problem. My 11 month old refuses the bottle. Her diapers are not so wet and that really worries me....but she just wouldn't take the bottle

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        Rachel 8 years ago

        my baby is 6 weeks. i am having a very hard time with getting my baby on the bottle. HELP!! she is my second child. my first girl (now 5yrs old) never took a bottle. and now this one doesn't want the bottle as well. she use to drink from a bottle pretty good and now she's rejecting the bottle. i'm trying everything i can. any advice???

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        Felita 8 years ago

        my baby is 10 months old and I started to stop breastfeeding and introduce the bottle as early as 5 months and until now its insuccessful. I always felt guilty when I see her crying out loud, hugging me and asking for my breast,so I end up giving it to her. I have tried different nipples,time of feeding,positions, I even tried herbs because other moms told me about it, Ive also tried starving her and tried giving the bottle but she still refuses, she just keep on pushing the bottle with her hands and if I succeeded to put it on her mouth she just bite on it.,its really frustrating especially now that I have been planning to go back to work..but I still have guilty feeling about it.she already eat some solid foods but doesn't want to gve up my breast..

        can you help me?

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        amanda 8 years ago

        sippy cups did not work for me. i went on strike and forced him to take a bottle. i knew he could because he had before. he just did not want to. i let him get really hungry then i would give him the bottle. if he refused. then i would wait about 30 min and try again. dont force it. maybe let her play with the bottle. my baby has to have his milk very warm or he will not take it. i also sometimes have to place my finger to his chin. i think its because of the skin on skin contact. maybe you should just stay home!!!! wouldn't that be nice.

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        Dey 8 years ago

        It really is so different for every baby! After going through MANY bottles, including breastflow, adiri, Mam, Aventi, and Nuk, our daughter is having SOME success with Nuk. It really almost depends on her mood, I go back to work in five weeks and have been trying for 7 weeks. She's now 10 weeks old. The only thing I know how to do is keep trying. We even tried a regular cup with a lactation specialist. She did not like that AT ALL. I'm thinking of a sippy cup, anyone else have any experience with one?

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        amanda 8 years ago

        i encourage everyone that is breastfeeding to try the mam bottle. it is the only one my son will use. i tried the adiri. the nipple was nothing like a real one. its too hard and too short. your nipple shapes to your babys mouth. the mam one is shaped very similar and has a nice texture. it encourages ypur baby to suckle like breastfeeding instead of suck.

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        Jen, try contacting a local specialist.

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        Jen  8 years ago

        Please help, my 3 month old will not drink from any bottle. She will tolerate it in her mouth and is happy to play with it. She will just not suck. I have tried all kinds of nipples, times of day, people and nothing. I of course will be back at work by the end of the month. Should i try leaving for the day and see if hunger will help her take the bottle? Should i try at every feeding to get her to take it. she eventually gets very upset with this.

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        Our daughter takes a bottle like a champ now. We had to keep trying, but we finally got there.

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        Dey 8 years ago

        Just like many of you, my daughter will not take a bottle, we've tried about six nipples including breast flow. I go back to work soon and I'm super worried, I've noticed some of these post are a few months old, did these feeding issues get solved?

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        I know it can be frustrating to bottle feed breastfed babies. Does he quiet down while he's moving? You may want to try giving him a bottle while he's in a swing - a little tricky, but can be done. Or while he's rocking.

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        alicia 8 years ago

        my baby wont even take a dummy. hes almost 5 months and hates the bottle i have to hold the bottle in his mouth while he screams for about an hour before he ends up falling asleep help me

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        mamarina 8 years ago from Chicago Illinois

        I really enjoyed your article. I'm a fan!

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        Trinity McDermott 8 years ago

        Thanks, Paul, this has to be the best site on getting your baby to take a bottle. We introduced the bottle at 3 weeks and he did alright. He took a bit once a week for a few weeks, then we slowed down to twice a week....I just didn't like pumping. So now, at 4 months when he rejects it on a regular basis.....I've switched to bottle feeding formula. Right now I waste a good 2 oz of formula every day - but somehow it's better to me than wasting the precious breast milk I worked so hard to pump - finding the time to do it can be tough when you also have a 3.5 year old. :)

        Thanks again, I'm going to try your suggestions as well as some of the other comments.

        I have tried the ADIRI and BREASTFLOW as well as other 'typical' bottles and nipples. I'm going to get the LATEX nipple and also the SECOND NATURE and see how they go

        I really like the nurse first idea, feed in the dark and also the sleepy feed. I'm trying these today! ;)

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        melissa 8 years ago

        I have a brestfed baby too and I have tried differen bottles pacifiiers, nipples, other siblings feed her, just about everything. I have been trying for about 3 wks and it doesn't seem to get better and I couldn't go back to work after my time off because she won't take anything besides the breast. HELP PLEASE

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        Amber 8 years ago

        i have a 4 1/2 month old daughter and she is refusing a bottle as well. i have had some success with first years' breastflow bottle. it acts just like mothers breast. but it is still a battle!

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        dee zimmermann 8 years ago

        If nothing seems to work you might ask your Dr. if your baby has a texture problem. This can show up early. I took care of a little girl and it was a constant battle. Finally I swaddled her tightly and she'd take the bottle. When solids were added the fight began again. Had the Mom check it out with her Dr. They put her on appetite stimulant plus therapy...........she is now 5 and a normal eater. Can't hurt to ask. Good Luck!!!

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        @Kristen and Katie

        Ask your doctor if they can recommend a lactation consultant. It was super frustrating for us and our first daughter. By the time we had our third, we were much more consistent with offering a bottle and had much less challenges.

        Good luck.

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        Kristen 8 years ago

        Hi Katie, I'm in the same exact boat. Has anything been successful for you yet? In our case, our daughter took a bottle of breast milk or formula until about 4 months and then just refused everything except the breast. I've tried a few things (sleepy feeds, feeding in the dark, changing locations, having others try giving the bottle, different nipples etc.)

        Help!

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        Katie 8 years ago

        I'm also having the same problem with my 4 month old daughter. I've tried every bottle and nipple as well as pacifier's and she won't latch on to any of them. I always use breast milk and still nothing. I go back to work in a week and just dont' know what else to do. If she isn't nursed she just cries until she exhausts herself to sleep it's heartbreaking... Any other advice?

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 8 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        Hi Tina. I know it can be frustrating when a baby won't take a bottle. Have you tried a lactation consultant? They might be able to help you figure out why your breasts are sore and offer hands on demonstation on how to introduce a bottle.

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        tina  8 years ago

        please please help im in the same postion but tried everything and im getting tired and frustrated. my baby will not accept the bottle at all she's 3 months and my boobs still hurt. what shall i do

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 9 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        Here are a few things you can try.

        1.  Try a dream feed bottle.  This is  trying to feed her when she is half asleep.

        2.  Try fresh pumped breast milk

        3. Try giving her a bath and then giving her a bottle

        Let us know what works for you when you find it. 

        As an FYI, our daughter has been much more interested lately in getting a bottle from my wife then from me.

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        Kirstie 9 years ago

        I just can't get my girl to take a bottle, I have tried the bottles that are closest to breasts, I have tried to start her off with breastfeeding then putting the bottle in, I have tried getting my hubby to do it while I left the house, but she just screams & screams, we are about two weeks into trying her on the bottle, is there any more tips any one can give? She took breastmilk from the bottle up until about 10 weeks, she is now 13 weeks, and will not even take breastmilk from the bottle anymore.

      • joblot profile image

        joblot 9 years ago from Ringwood

        With our daughter we tried about 7 different bottles and teats before she'd take one. Good advice in here - also don't give up trying!

      • PEN-n-PAD profile image

        PEN-n-PAD 9 years ago from Washington

        Isn't it just amazing how today, as parents, you worry over bottle feeding; or who's turn it is to change a diaper?  Then it seems like you blink and your more concerned about which child hid the keys?  Or my favorite (I have a boy) who took the time to pee on the floor? My kids are young but I'm sure you'll agree it beats worrying about who they date!

        Oh and you left out the number one reason to get your baby to take a bottle...... (drum roll) MOMMY IS NOT A TEETHING TOY!!!

        Good luck with your precious one and thanks for giving me my new best friend-hubpages!

        Pen-n-Pad ~ https://hubpages.com/health/Screening-Physicians

      • Paul Edmondson profile image
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        Paul Edmondson 9 years ago from Burlingame, CA

        Anyone else have experience with the Natural Nurser or Breast Bottle? Love to hear more about them.

      • belief713 profile image

        belief713 9 years ago from NJ

        I've successfully breast and bottle fed one (he's 3), working on number 2 (he's four, almost five months). I had a brief encounter with bottle rejection with the oldest, but it was a brief fase and at this point I don't remember what I did(if anything) to get him out of it.

        I love nursing "from the spigot" and never carry a bottle or milk with us. Both mothers dislike that about me - they say I should always be prepared, but I don't see the need in carrying a bottle and defrosting milk (at the risk of not using it - this stuff is liquid gold!) if I'm with little guy.

        Anyway, I just wanted to note that I found bottles that I do use while I am at work that I really like because they resmeble the shape of the breast. It may help with your bottle rejection. Although you seem to have it down to a system. They're called Natural Nurser or BreastBottle by Adiri. Check them out, they're neat.... they're also safe because they contain no BPA's which is an excellent plus!

      • guidebaba profile image

        guidebaba 9 years ago from India

        Nice tips. I needed these.

      • sminut13 profile image

        sminut13 9 years ago from singapore

        hahaha i use this idea too. though i don't use a pacifier. my son who's 5 this year is still on bottle. my daughter who's 2 mths is breastfeeding. she drinks from the bottle once or twice a day. i usually feed her from the bottle at night so that she's full and won't keep waking up in the middle of the night.

        great information and cute pictures. thanks for sharing.