How to Teach a Nursed Baby to Take a Bottle

A Gradual Approach

  • Unless there’s an immediate need, switch your baby gradually from breast to bottle. Avoid going full-force and ditching the breastfeedings completely. Instead, swap out one nursing session for a bottle feeding every day for five to seven days, suggests the University of Michigan Health System. Gradual weaning gives your baby the time he needs to adjust to the change in feedings. This approach also gets you used to bottle feeding your baby, while allowing you to continue nursing. Continued nursing can help to prevent breast engorgement, making you more comfortable. You can also give your baby a taste from the bottle at the end of his regular evening meal. This also helps to gradually ease him into the new way of eating when he's not stressed with hunger.

Have Someone Else Help

  • Have someone else feed your baby when you first start giving him a bottle. When he's used to breastfeeding from you, suddenly putting a bottle in his face may confuse him or make him resistant to taking it from you. If he’s still searching for your breast, ask your spouse or another family member to do the first bottle feedings. As your baby gets used to feeding from the bottle, you can begin to take over the bottle feedings.

Nipple Size and Shape

  • Try different type of nipples to see which one your baby prefers. Baby bottle nipples come in several sizes, allowing for different flow speeds. Depending on the brand, the sizes may come in slow, medium and fast, or similar names. If your baby is struggling to get anything out of her bottle, try switching to the next size up. If your baby gags while she's drinking, replace the nipple with a slower flow version so you don't flood her with formula or breast milk. If this doesn’t do the trick, try a different shape or width.

Stay Away

  • Your baby knows your scent. When he smells that you're near he may still want to nurse from you. If you’re letting someone else do the first few feedings, leave the house when it's bottle time. This takes the the option of nursing from you away.

Getting Used to the Bottle

  • Your baby may not know what she’s supposed to do with this strange plastic thing in front of her. Give her time, and allow her to play with the bottle. Mouthing the nipple and exploring it is a step toward eventually sucking on it.

    The new bottle smells and tastes unfamiliar to your baby. If she resists drinking from it, try dripping some of your breast milk on to the nipple. The familiar smell and taste may make her want to drink from it.

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