Help! My Baby Won't Take a Bottle!

Help! My Baby Won't Take a Bottle!

October 04, 2023

If you are an exclusively breastfeeding Mama, you may be wondering if and when to introduce your little one to a bottle. In the event that you need to be away from them for a bit, you are hoping to supplement with formula, or if you simply want someone else to be able to cover feedings from time to time, helping your baby to become accustomed to drinking from a bottle is sometimes easier said than done. Whether you are introducing a bottle for the very first time or experiencing some struggles with getting them to accept a bottle, here are some tried and true ways to make this transition as smooth as possible!


Scenario #1: Introducing a bottle for the first time.

Many lactation consultants recommend offering an exclusively breastfed baby a bottle for the first time around one month of age, and then offering it at least once a week moving forward to help them get used to it. If you have already missed this window, don't fret! Just follow the steps ahead. For the first bottle feeding, Mama may choose to offer them the bottle or have someone else like Dad or Grandma do it. Some babies will accept a bottle with ease if offered from Mama since they are familiar with her smell. Other times, it is best to have someone else try because they may just want to breastfeed if that is what they are used to. Follow your baby's lead in this area. To begin, offering skin to skin contact and a familiar feeding setting will help your little one to get comfortable. Next, bring the bottle to their lips and help them to latch onto the bottle nipple. This is where things can possibly get tricky. Perhaps your baby will surprise you and latch right away, but sometimes they will not like the difference between breast and bottle and immediately refuse. Either way, don't panic! Read ahead for ways to work through a refusal. 

baby won't take a bottle
Scenario #2: We tried to offer a bottle & baby refused it. 

There are a few things to consider if your baby has refused a bottle. Try offering a few different types of bottles and nipples as sometimes doing this is just enough to do the trick and find their preference! Be sure to offer the bottle once they are showing signs of hunger as trying it when their tummies are already full or when they are ravenous may be a recipe for disaster. You want to aim for the sweet spot of early hunger cues! Things to watch for are rooting, slight fussing (not full out crying) and otherwise content. Next, pay attention to the environment. Be sure it is calming and not overly distracting. Be sure the milk in the bottle (whether it is breastmilk or formula) is heated to the right temperature. Not too hot and not too cold, but right about room temperature is typically preferred. You can even try covering the bottle nipple in breastmilk as a way to encourage your baby to latch! This is usually a great way to help them get started.

What to do when baby won't take a bottle
Scenario #3: Baby will latch but then stops mid-feed.

As your baby gets used to flow of a bottle nipple, it is normal for them to have to learn to pace themselves accordingly. If you baby unlatches from the bottle during a feeding, calmy start over by offering them the nipple again. Consider that maybe they are full or are in need of a burping. Take a short break if needed and come back once they show signs of hunger. Trying different types of nipples can be helpful in this area as well until you find the one that suits your baby. 

Scenario #4: I've tried all these things, and my baby is still refusing a bottle. 

If your baby is still struggling after trying out the tips above, the most important thing for you to do is stay calm! Keeping bottle feedings comfortable and soothing is the best way to encourage them to keep trying, as they can pick up on your uncertainty. Here are some additional tips to try:

Perhaps offering a different type of formula will solve this problem. Browse an array of organic baby formula options right here: Best European Organic Baby Formula (

Try changing their feeding position. Sometimes holding a breastfed baby in the nursing position will make them just want to nurse. Try sitting them up a bit or facing them outward as a way to change up their view.
Strategies For Helping Your Baby Get Used to a Bottle
If you have to be away from your baby and they are preferring your scent, offer the caregiver a blanket or item that smells like you during feeding times. This may help bring them familiarity and comfort.
Know that whether your little one accepts a bottle from the start or experiences some struggles along the way, calm consistency is key. They will eventually master this! Have any questions in this area or tips you can share? If so, share them with us below!
If you are interested in learning more about the topic of bottle feeding, check out these related posts below: 
Navigating New Motherhood & Feelings Surrounding Feeding
Tips & Tricks For Formula Feeding On The Go

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