Bottle feeding not going well

Hi all, 

wondering if any of you have any wisdom to share on how to bottle feed a 3 month old who now refuses a bottle? Someone recommended East Bay Lactation Associates. Do any of you have any experience working with them? Particularly in regards to bottle feeding?

thanks all!


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Hi Chris - highly recommend Rowena Bennett’s book: Your baby’s bottle feeding aversions: reasons and solutions. It saved us. You can find her blog online and purchase the book via Amazon. 

A baby refusing a bottle usually means something else is going on.  I highly recommend you look into bottle aversion.  Some symptoms include: crying at the bottle, spit up, back arching when feeding, refusing the bottle (often turning head away), only feeding when drowsy.  Some questions to think about - Does you baby turn its head when presented with the bottle?  Does it take a minimum out of the bottle and then refuse to drink more?  Are you worried about how much milk it is drinking?  Check out this article:  If it sounds like this might be the case, I highly recommend you read Rowena Bennett's book on the subject.  Life changing for my daughter who had bottle aversion coming out of the NICU.  Bennett's book has a specific plan for overcoming the aversion and it really works (follow the rules strictly - even though it will be hard for you, the parent).  Feel free to DM me for more details and guidance.  

East Bay Lactation consultants were absolute life-savers!  I was struggling with breastfeeding my daughter at 5 weeks and was bottle-feeding to supplement, and they worked with me on both the breastfeeding and bottle feeding.  Incredibly thorough and helpful, I highly recommend them. 

Hi yes, I worked with EBLA, particularly Molly, and Laura, before she went independent ( I would definitely recommend them. I saw 5 lactation consultants after my son was born, and EBLA were the best. I don't know if they still do it during the pandemic, but their weekly breastfeeding groups were so good for us when we were struggling and feeling so alone. We had different issues, but there were people in the group at the time that were struggling with bottle feeding, so they might be a good fit for you.

This is so hard! My first didn’t take the bottle until 7 months and it was rough. What ended up working for us was starting to and then me feeding her the bottle. Every website said to have someone else do it, but I found that she didn’t notice as much if I switched her from breast to bottle mid feed. Also recommend trying multiple types of bottles/nipple sizes. Sometimes the latch isn’t good with one, but another will work. Good luck! 

Bumblebaby has a helpful online bottle refusal workshop. 

Hi, Chris.

Our 8 month old had feeding issues early on (not bottle refusal, though), and East Bay Lactation Consultants was recommended by our pediatrician.  They were fine (we worked with Molly), but not earth-shattering.  Molly was nice and knowledgeable and offered to be available via text or email, but also seemed a bit disorganized/over-scheduled.  Also, EBLC is generally not included in your insurance.  Unless you have a Cadillac policy with a big company (luckily we did), expect to pay out of pocket.  Unless your option is UCSF, you might want to consider someone in network.  UCSF was horrible for many reasons and I strongly recommend against them if you can avoid it.

For what it's worth about bottle refusal, I have a friend whose kiddo consistently refused a bottle until she went back to work (around 6 months) and he literally had no other option.  He began bottle feeding pretty quickly when he got hungry enough.  I know that's not a fun feeling, though!

Our lactation consultant through UCSF was incredibly helpful and invaluable for breastfeeding, but I didn't find them especially helpful for bottle feeding unfortunately. Perhaps the East Bay group will be different, but just sharing my experience.

Bottle feeding was difficult for us for a while at that age. I tried to give our daughter 1 bottle a day, and the rest was breastfed. It was the consistency that helped, just sticking with it. But it was very difficult at times.

Some tips from the lactation consultants that did help a bit: avoid distractions if that's the problem, or use distractions to your advantage if it's more of a latching issue (sometimes getting their mind off of the bottle can just let them latch easier), try some music/singing, have mom leave the house completely. If neither of these help, consider hiring a nanny or an experienced baby sitter to give it a try for a few days in a row. Often a "dispassionate" person doing the feeding can have better luck establishing the patterns. For us at least.

Sending you the best of wishes, I know how hard this can be since I went through it last summer and fall.

East Bay Lactation Associates is wonderful!!! I met with Molly both when breastfeeding was hard, and also when I was transitioning my baby to bottles while I was at work. She’s just wonderful!! 

Hi - I had a very positive experience working with EBLA for breastfeeding. Turns out that the info I was given by the L&D and NICU nurses was off-base. I recommend emailing/talking with them. I worked with Janaki.

I worked with East Bay Lactation associates back in 2020 when I had a newborn. It was for general feeding issues, but they were very good. They also give you documentation to submit for insurance reimbursement for lactation support. I think that would extend to bottle feed.

We used Paula Santi with our baby when she was refusing a bottle. She really helped and our baby takes the lansinoh bottle now. That bottle seems to be one that lactation consultants recommend for babies who have difficulty with the bottle.

Best of luck to you and your baby!

This was my daughter.  I had my friends try, I had grandma try after I left the house, I tried switching from breast to bottle, I withheld the boob for one feeding.  NOTHING.  This was at 4 months with my return to work date looming.  I remembered my night doula who had successfully bottle fed my daughter and asked her to come back and do it.

Took 5 minutes.

She held my daughter in the normal bottle feeding pose, held one arm against her own chest firmly, and held the other arm firmly against the baby's body.  Then held baby firmly so that she wasn't flailing her head.  To be clear, this wasn't some weirdo wrestling pose with forced strength, she just held her so that she couldn't easily escape and flail around with her arms and head.  My daughter took the bottle, nanny and grandma were trained, and that was the end of that.

I had a coworker with the same problem, and the same result.

Give it a try.  May not work for everyone, but after the stress this caused me, I couldn't believe the answer was so simple.  She had no other issues with feeding.  Just had to be taught and do it on her own time (to this day, this is my kid about everything).