There comes a time in every baby’s life when it is time to transition from mom’s breast to a bottle. This happens at different times for every mother and baby and some common reasons for the transition include mom returning to work or needing to be away from her baby for an extended period of time, needing to take a medication that may be harmful to the baby, or is just ready to begin weaning.
Transitioning your baby from your breast to the bottle may take several different types of bottles and multiple attempts before you achieve success. Here are some tips that you can use to make the transition as smooth as possible.
- 1 Do Your Bottle Research
- 2 Let Someone Else Try
- 3 Try Before They are Hungry
- 4 Don’t Force It
- 5 Check the Nipple Flow
- 6 Try Different Positions
- 7 Try a Distraction
- 8 Final Tips
Do Your Bottle Research
Before attempting to transition your baby from the breast to a bottle do some research on the most recommended types of bottles for this transition. All nipples and bottles are not created equal, especially not for the baby who has been feeding directly from the breast.
When you start the transition only get one of several different types of bottles until you figure out which one your baby will take. There is no need to spend a fortune on bottles and nipples that your baby may refuse to use. If you were given bottles at your baby shower you can always start with those.
Let Someone Else Try
You might find that your baby is more willing to try taking a bottle if it is offered by someone other than mom. If the baby knows that you are available to feed them as they normally would then they will be less inclined to give the bottle a try. Mom can leave the house, or simply stay out of sight, but have someone else like dad, grandma, or another caregiver try to offer the baby a bottle. You may also have more success offering the bottle in a different room or chair than is normally used.
Try Before They are Hungry
Try offering a bottle of freshly pumped breast-milk before they are really hungry. Don’t pump a lot, because you don’t want to waste precious breast-milk if they aren’t interested. If you wait until your baby is really hungry, your chances of success are not high, think about it how well do you learn something new when you’re starving?
Find the best breast pump and pregnancy pillow for you here!
Don’t Force It
If your baby is completely uninterested in taking the bottle, don’t force it. Don’t let them become too frustrated or upset, and try to remain calm yourself. Remember, your baby can sense your frustration. If they become too upset at trying to take the bottle it can thwart your future attempts because they will already associate the bottle with frustration.
Check the Nipple Flow
Sometimes the only reason that your baby is refusing to take a bottle is the amount of milk coming out of the nipple. If you have a strong letdown reflex when nursing, then your baby may get frustrated at the slow drip of milk coming for a slow flow nipple. On the other hand, if you start with a fast flow nipple and your baby is not coordinated enough to swallow the milk quickly they can aspirate the milk. Some bottles do have nipples that will fit them that are medium flow. You will just have to experiment until you find the best option for your baby.
Try Different Positions
Your baby may not be willing to take a bottle in the same position that you use when you are breastfeeding them. This can confuse them about what is expected of them. If your baby won’t take a bottle in the same position that you nurse them try some other positions and see if that makes a difference.
Try a Distraction
Try offering the bottle in a different room, or while your baby is in the bouncy seat or swing, sing a song or recite a nursery rhyme when offering the bottle. Keeping them a little bit distracted while offering the bottle can increase your success with making the change from breast to bottle. You might also consider taking your baby outside for a feeding to distract them.
Here are just a few quick additional tips that you can try when you are trying to transition your baby from the breast to the bottle.
Warm the nipple, before offering it. Run the nipple of the bottle under some warm water so that the temperature more closely resembles that of your nipple instead of cold plastic.
Make sure that there is milk in the tip of the nipple before offering it to your baby. You may also consider dropping a couple of drops of milk onto your baby’s lips so that they know what is coming.
Start the feeding with your breast and instead of switching to the other side offer the bottle instead.
Keep your composure. Try not to get frustrated and just remain calm. It might take quite a few tries before your baby will willingly take a bottle regularly.
These are just a few of the tips that you can use as you try to make the transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding your baby. Remember that every baby is different, and some tips just may not work for your baby. Do you have any tips to add for successfully transitioning a baby from the breast to the bottle?
Here are some other articles that will help you in your breastfeeding journey. Read our full article on breastfeeding essentials, breastfeeding challenges, exclusively pumping tips, and anything about breastfeeding here.