Bottles and the Breastfeeding Baby

Baby drinking bottle

A couple of weeks before mom's maternity leave ends, she usually starts to worry about "How am I going to get my baby to take a bottle".

Unfortunately there isn't a one size fits all answer to this question. Every baby is unique and what works for one mom and baby, won't necessarily work for the next.

Here are a few tricks and tips that other mothers have found worked for them;

  • Baby prefers the milk cold (It doesn't cause cramps and some like it)
  • Baby prefers the milk warmed (You can warm the bottle by placing it in a warm bowl of water)
  • Baby prefers a softer teat (Remember that the teat size for breastfeeding babies always stay on the smallest size to prevent nipple confusion)
  • Baby prefers "expensive" bottle brands.
  • Baby prefers "cheap" bottle brands.
  • Baby prefers the teat to be warned first by dipping it in warm water.
  • Baby only takes a bottle from someone other than mom.
  • Baby only takes a bottle when mom is out of the house.
  • Baby takes a bottle in a certain nursing position. (E.g. Side lying)
  • Baby takes a bottle when she’s not extremely hungry yet.
  • Baby takes a bottle when she’s sleepy.
  • Baby takes a bottle during a Dreamfeed. (Click here to learn about Dreamfeeding)
  • Baby wants to first taste a few drops of milk on her lips.
  • Baby took the bottle when you nursed her and then quickly switched to bottle.


  • Place something sweet on the nipple to get baby to take it. It can be harmful to baby's delicate gut.


Can it be the taste of the milk?

  • Somemothershave an excess of lipase in their milk that causes expressed milk to taste and smell soapy. Some babies don't like the taste so mom has to scald the milk before freezing. (Click here to learn about high lipase)

What if baby still refuses to take a bottle:

  • Many mothers prefer to do cup-feeding rather than use bottles. They use shot glasses or small cups for this and baby takes the milk that way.
  • Some mothers also go straight to sippy cups or normal cups.

If cup feeding also doesn't work:

NONE of it worked and baby refuses EVERYTHING:

Some babies take just enough milk to tie them over until reunited with mom and some decide to take none. They will wait until reunited with mom and then make up for the missed feeds.

This is called "Reverse Cycling" where they make up for missed feeds at night. It can be hard on mom's sleep so co-sleeping is a wonderful option, as well as Dreamfeeding.
(Click here to learn about Reverse Cycling) 

It is obviously important to keep your eye on baby's wet nappy output, growth curve and to notice if baby does actually nurse more frequently to make up missed feeds.
Wet nappy count:
  • Once mom’s milk is in to 6 weeks of age, baby should be having 5 to 6 wet diapers in 24h
  • After 6 weeksof age, baby should be having 4 to 5 sopping wet diapers in 24h