What can you do when your baby won’t take a bottle?” This is a common parenting challenge, and one that I’m often asked about on my Facebook page. What do you do when breast-feeding is going so well that your baby has trouble weaning, or worse yet, your baby refuses the bottle completely? There may be times when a Mom will need to be gone for more than a few hours and baby will need to take a bottle. Perhaps you’re returning to work, or an event or situation will require you to be away from your baby for several hours.  If your baby won’t take the bottle, it can be stressful for mom, baby and the person who will be with your baby during your absence. Today we are tackling this issue head-on!


  • Have someone else feed the baby. Leave the room or even the house so your baby can’t see, hear, sense and smell you.
  • Be sure the baby does not have reflux, or thrust reflex, and that he/she is not teething.
  • Skip the bottle, and go straight to a cup, or use a transitional learner cup.
  • Ensure there is skin-on-skin contact and cuddle baby while trying the cup.
  • Introduce the bottle when baby is not fully awake – when she’s falling asleep or just waking up, while still dozy and disoriented.
  • Change the type of nipple (try latex rubber, silicone, etc…).
  • Avoid trying the bottle when baby is very hungry.
  • Introduce the bottle in a low-pressure situation (not in a hurry).
  • Check the temperature of the milk. Often the milk isn’t warm enough. Or try different temperatures, warm, room temperature, cold etc.
  • Warm the nipple of the bottle (in warm water) just before feeding.
  • Experiment with different sizes of bottle nipples (wide mouth bottle, etc…) Even try the older-style bottle with the brown nipples.
  • Try feeding baby milk from a spoon, syringe or medicine dropper.  It is time consuming, but baby will get some nutrition.
  • Use a straw.
  • It sounds crazy, but Google “moon phases”, and see when the New Moon is. Try bottle-feeding around that date.
  • Check with your doctor before trying this one – some doctors will suggest dipping the bottle nipple in sugar water until they accept it.
  • Put breast-milk on the bottle nipple to give it a familiar flavour and to encourage baby to suck.
  • Start out by breast-feeding, and slip the bottle into baby’s mouth at the end of the feeding. Keep skin to skin contact during the bottle feeding.
  • Transition to bottle by using a nipple shield on yourself first.
  • Pierce several tiny holes in the bottle’s slow-flow nipple with a sterilized needle. This will imitate the breast.  Watch your baby closely to be sure that the milk doesn’t flow out too quickly.
  • Try changing the flow speed of the nipple. Slow-flow, fast-flow, etc.
  • Change the scenery. Ask a family friend or relative to feed your baby in their home, instead of yours.
  • Try the bottle when you’re not holding your baby, i.e. she’s in the shopping cart, in the stroller etc.
  • If your baby is over 6 months, the person watching the baby can hold them off with baby food, mixed with breast-milk, until you can be home for a feeding.
  • Feed your baby in a new position, i.e. instead of cradling him, place him on your lap, with his feet on your belly and head in your hand, facing you.
  • Or, face baby away from you, and place Dad’s tee-shirt or a tea-towel between you and baby, to mask your scent.
  • Don’t overlook the cheap bottles. They have worked well for many babies.
  • Try, try and try again. Give it a good effort~ at least eleven attempts.

Good luck!  I have known many friends that have gone through this and I know how hard it can be.  Have patience and ask others for help.   

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