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How To Manage Bottle Refusal

If you follow me on instagram you may have seen me share that I struggled with bottle refusal with my almost 4 month old because I waited too long to introduce a bottle… which I also did with my daughter… and swore I would learn from my mistake (whoops).


In my defense, the first two months of my son’s life were a bit hectic… between having a newborn and taking care of our daughter who seemed to catch every virus going around during December and January you could say taking the time to pump and introduce a bottle was the last thing on my mind.


I would pump here and there and have my husband try offering a bottle but it was overall unsuccessful. So, I got serious and wanted to share how I approached bottle refusal.


First, pick a bottle or bottles with a nipple that has a gradual slope.


✨I picked 2 different bottle nipples to trial.


When it comes to picking a bottle you want a nipple that has a ✨gradual slope✨and not a harsh angle with a pointy nipple. This is more comparable to breast tissue and helps promote a deep latch. A good latch is not sucking on the nipple alone. A good deep latch is achieved when baby forms a teat by latching onto both the nipple and areolar tissue.


Lansinoh is another brand I would recommend!


Second, focus on introducing the bottle nipple under ✨STRESS FREE CIRCUMSTANCES✨


What this means is, focus on offering the nipple alone, no bottle attached, to allow your baby to get familiar with it, explore, chew, and slowly work on sucking from it.


I like to keep the nipple attached to the plastic ring that screws onto the bottle just for easier handling.


What I’m looking for before moving onto introducing milk through the nipple is consistent sucking and no more playing/chewing when I offer it. I focused on taking some time at least once a day to offer the bottle nipple and let him explore/practice. I spent a day alternating between the two different nipples and found my son seemed to have a preference for the Pigeon brand. He started to suck sooner and more consistently with that one. But that was just our experience.


Once I saw that he was consistently sucking on the nipple I started to add a few drops of breastmilk into the nipple and allow him the opportunity to work on sucking the milk from the nipple before offering a bottle.


Next, it's bottle time...well, almost! Let's go over a few tips first


  1. Start with a snack size amount (0.5-1.0 ounce)

No one likes to waste breastmilk or formula so when you’re still working on getting your baby to take a bottle it can be beneficial to start with small amounts.


2. Practice when your baby is happy, not fussy


If your baby is already showing signs of hunger it may not be the best time to practice the bottle.Breastfeed first and then offer the snack size bottle for dessert.


3. Recruit a helper


Babies are smart. When it’s mom trying to offer the bottle, but baby knows she has milk straight from the tap, this may contribute to refusal. So when you can, recruit someone to help.


4. Remember the 2 hour rule


Remember, whatever breastmilk is left in the bottle after a feeding can sit at room temp for 2 hours and then needs to be tossed. The CDC recommends using formula within 2 hours from prep and within 1 hour from when feeding started.


5. Practice Paced Bottle Feeding (this is a super important step)


If you plan to continue a combination of breast and bottle feeding I strongly encourage you follow Paced Bottle Feeding. This style of bottle feeding mimics the flow of breastfeeding, reduces the likelihood of nipple preference, helps baby feel in control, and reduces overfeeding.


6. Find your frequency


Once your baby is successfully taking a bottle try to remain consistent. For some, this may require a daily bottle even if it's a snack size amount. For others, they may be able to go every other day or every few days without one. This will depend on your lifestyle and needs.


Have any questions? Feel free to comment below or reach out to me on social!(@nurture.motherhood)


Also, be sure to check out my blog on Paced Bottle Feeding where I go into more detail about why this approach to bottle feeding is important and how you can implement it!





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