Tips for Introducing a Bottle to a Breastfed Baby

Breastfeeding mothers are recommended to not introduce bottles to an exclusively breastfed baby until a successful breastfeeding relationship has been established.  This is to prevent nipple confusion and bottle preference in the baby.  

Photo Credit:David Precious

However, when the time comes to introduce baby's first bottle, because we all know dad is dying to feed his new baby and mom is dying for a break, it can be surprisingly hard to get the baby to take the bottle.

With all the warnings about introducing bottles to babies too early, I thought it would be a breeze getting our baby girl to drink from her bottle.  I couldn't wait to start giving her bottles of pumped milk, as I was struggling with dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D-MER) and wasn't sure how much longer I could breastfeed.  But when my husband cradled our little one and tried giving her her first bottle, she just wouldn't have it.  She spit the bottle nipple out repeatedly and wailed until I eventually gave in to another session of breastfeeding.  Eventually she did take a bottle and sometimes when she is sick and stuffy or going through a developmental leap, she only wants the bottle.  

Here are a few 'no fuss' (puns always intended) tips for introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby smoothly.

  • Make sure mom isn't nearby. Whether it's dad or another caregiver trying to give the baby their first bottle, make sure mom isn't in the room.  Who would want to suck on a plastic nipple when there's a warm squishy boob within reach.  Mom, take this time to go for a walk, take a nap or enjoy a hot bath.
  • Do it at the first signs of hunger.  If the baby has already gotten to the point of crying because they want milk, it's not the best time to introduce the bottle.  Try to do it when baby is in a good mood and just starting to show signs of being hungry.
  • Assume the (breastfeeding) position.  Have the bottle giver hold the baby close to their chest as if they were going to breastfeed.  This will help the baby to feel safe, secure and ready to eat.
  • Make the bottle smell like mom.  Wrap one of mom's recently worn shirts around the bottle.  The smell of mother may encourage baby to eat.
  • Don't force it.  It may take a couple tries before the baby accepts a bottle.  Don't force it upon them.  If you make it a negative experience it will become even harder to get them to take a bottle in the future.

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About Coffee and Wine Mom

Maddi Casey is a muscle car driving, hard working mama who is obsessed with football and good beer. She has two beautiful baby girls and loving husband. Writing is a passion, hobby and sometimes career of hers at She is also passionate about animals, nature and entrepreneurship.
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