Returning to Work & the Baby Refuses the Bottle ?

Hello Mommas!! Are you returning to work and the baby continues to refuse the bottle? It is not uncommon for babies to refuse a bottle when you are first weaning them from breastfeeding. Drinking from a bottle doesn’t come naturally to them, and breastfeeding is a lot different than drinking milk from a bottle. Babies struggle to control the flow of milk from a bottle, drinking positions are different, and most importantly, they miss the warmth of mother's touch. For easy transition, experts recommend parents try and mimic the breastfeeding experience for their babies as much as possible. There are several factors involved in this process and there are various proven techniques that can help. In this article, we will cover each one in detail.

Feeding Bottles

More often than not, success boils down to the bottle you use. Before the baby settles on one he or she likes, you will have to try a few bottles and experiment with nipple size. Dr. Brown's Original wide-neck baby bottles work like a charm for a lot of mothers. They are softer, wider, and very similar to mother’s breasts. There are a few moms who’ve also had a lot of success with Nanobebe baby bottles with a flow-control nipple. With these bottles, the baby controls the flow of milk. Playtex Nurser bottles or Comotomo are other great options.

Feeding Position Can Be Key

Try holding the baby in an upright position while feeding them. This will give them a lot more control over the flow of the milk. You can also feed them in a sideways feeding position similar to when they breastfeed. Babies tend to latch onto bottles better when they are comfortable and in their natural positions.

Don’t Wait For Baby to Cry

Don’t wait til the baby is screaming for food. It can be extremely difficult to feed a crying, fussy baby. Pay close attention to baby’s cues and offer them a bottle whenever they show signs of hunger. In general, play it safe and start feeding early, and before they begin to cry. If they are crying, first soothe them and calm them down before trying to feed them.

Maintain the Right Temperature

Ensure the formula or milk is warmed up so the temperature matches the natural milk that comes from the mother's body. You can also try warming the nipple in water before giving the bottle to the baby.

Start Early

Don’t wait til the last minute. Start giving the baby a bottle at least two weeks before you start work. 

A few additional tips on how to get a baby to take a bottle quickly from dad or a caregiver

  • Give dad or the caregiver a shirt or top you had worn that day or the night before. A garment that smells of the mother can also be wrapped around the bottle or placed on top of dad’s or a caregiver’s clothes when they are feeding the baby. 

  • Feed the baby while moving rhythmically – walking, swaying, rocking or sitting in a rocking chair.

  • Babies can smell their mom. So when a dad or caregiver first starts feeding the baby, make sure his or her mom stays in another room.

  • Don’t force the bottle into the baby's mouth. Instead, bring the bottle close to the baby. You can even touch it to the baby's lips. Try stimulating the baby's rooting reflex by drawing a line down the baby's forehead to the baby's nose, and all the way to the baby's mouth. This will cause the baby to look up and open his or her mouth. When the baby does that, slip the bottle in. 

  • Squeeze a small amount of milk on the baby's tongue so that he or she knows it is milk.

Transitioning babies to bottles is sometimes challenging or can take a while. Babies can also regress during this process. Sometimes a baby who has already transitioned to a bottle can suddenly start refusing the bottle. Be patient. All babies eventually learn to adapt to bottles. Your baby will, too.

Happy bottle-feeding!


What is the rooting reflex?

The rooting reflex occurs when a baby naturally turns toward mother’s breasts, bottle, or other stimulus, and starts making a sucking motion when the stimulus is brought near their cheeks or lips. This reflex ensures successful breastfeeding. To stimulate the rooting reflex, the one feeding the baby can draw a line from baby’s forehead to its mouth so the baby looks up and opens its mouth to take the bottle in.

What to do when a baby will not take a bottle?

Make sure you are using the right bottle and nipple size with proper flow controls. Warm the milk to a lukewarm temperature similar to the temperature of mother’s milk. Try an upright position while feeding so the baby can control the milk flow. Don’t force the bottle into the baby's mouth; instead, stimulate the rooting reflex and touch the bottle gently to the baby's lips.

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