Having a baby who refuses to take a bottle when with a caregiver can be super stressful! It is not unusual for parents to have tried tons of different bottles in hopes of finding the one baby will finally take. This may absolutely be what’s needed for your baby, but here are some other things to try before you go out and buy more new bottles.
1. Let your baby feel and suck on the bottle nipple (with it just attached to the bottle collar) without the bottle attached so they can get used to the feeling of it in their mouth. If they accept that you can put a drop of breast milk in the nipple or dip the nipple in your milk to see if they will suck on it. Never force the nipple in the baby’s mouth, rest it on their upper lip so they open their mouth to accept it first. If they are refusing or getting upset, stop and try another time.
2. Try holding your baby in a different position while bottle feeding. Sometimes being held in a breastfeeding position just triggers their breastfeeding instincts. Try facing them out or in a side lying position facing the room instead of you.
3. Try moving around while feeding your baby. Walk around the room or gently bounce them. If it’s nice outside try feeding them outside for a change of scenery.
4. Try different temperatures of milk. Some babies might prefer warm or room temperature milk, while others might take it cold.
5. Try when the baby has just woken up and is still drowsy. Some babies may be more apt to accept the bottle during the night, when it is dark and calm and they are drowsy and just waking for a feed.
6. Try wrapping the bottle in a shirt or cloth that mom has worn, so it smells like her. The smell of mom might be calming and that along with the smell of milk might trigger their cues for feeding.
7. Try offering the bottle when the baby is not super hungry. How would you feel trying a new skill when you were starving? You would likely have very little patience and get frustrated. Don’t offer a bottle to a baby for the first time when they are starving either. Instead try it maybe as a “snack” in between their usual feeding times or a little earlier than they would usually be hungry.
8. Give your milk a good sniff or taste to make sure you don’t have high lipase - If your milk has a metallic or soapy taste and odor this might be the culprit. If you have high lipase activity it means the enzyme lipase is breaking down the fat in your milk quickly, thus the off odor and taste. It is still perfectly good milk and completely safe for your baby to drink it. Some babies will happily drink it, while others will refuse it.
9. Patience, persistence, and consistency is sometimes the key! For some babies this is a process and the key is to keep trying every day. They might take some time to warm up to it and you may have to try a few different things until you figure out what they like.
Written by Nicole Schwartz