Baby Can't Manage the Bottle

Parent Q&A

  • Baby doesn't latch on bottle

    (18 replies)

    We've been trying daily for a month to get our 8 week old baby to take a bottle. The issue isn't that she refuses, in fact she seems interested in the bottle. However, she can't seem to figure out how to latch onto it. She has only done it successfully about five out of thirty tries. She latches fine at the breast. We've tried three types of bottles/nipples (Dr. Brown's, Avent, Como Tomo). She seems to have a strong gag reflex so hasn't taken a pacifier, either. (Trying the pacifier made her gag and throw up on 3-4 different attempts with two different brands.) I called Alta Bates Lactation Consultation and the woman I spoke with didn't have any advice.

    There's one month left before I go back to work and my husband will need to feed her. Anyone have tips to get her to latch onto the bottle?

    RE: Baby doesn't latch on bottle ()

    We had the exact same experience with my second. I'm so sorry. We tried EVERYTHING. We knew she could sometimes take a bottle, but usually wouldn't and would end up crying for hours when my husband tried. We were also successful breastfeeding. She also wouldn't take a pacifier. We tried 10 bottle and pacifier types but didn't find a difference. We tried different lactation consultants, different settings, different people offering the bottle. We also had her evaluated for tongue tie, which she didn't have. I would first recommend you get her checked for that. If she isn't (and she probably isn't since she nurses well), I would recommend just keep trying new people and new settings offering her the bottle. We felt so tired and stressed about it because I was going back to work in two weeks. I even bought a feeding dropper just in case a bottle would never work. Then magically one day we asked the person who was going to watch her (who has been a caregiver for 30 years) if my husband could come to her house and bring the baby and bottle and have her try. I kid you not, the baby took the bottle immediately from her like magic. Then my husband did it there. Then she always took it, even from me. I don't know if she was just ready, or the vibe was right, or what, but it worked. So don't give up, and just keep trying!! And if it doesn't work, you can do droppers and cups, and it will be okay too!

    RE: Baby doesn't latch on bottle ()

    The great news is that she's interested in the bottle! That's the hard part. I would start by getting her used to sucking on something other than the breast, like your pinky. It's harder and shaped more like a bottle nipple, and you can control how far you let your pinky go back so as not to trigger her gag reflex. You can gradually desensitize her that way. I got my (bottle- resistant) son to suck happily on my pinky and then transition directly onto a bottle that way. Also, you could ask her pediatrician to check for a tongue-tie, though that's less likely if she's successfully breastfeeding. Good luck! You got this! 

    RE: Baby doesn't latch on bottle ()

    Hi!  You should join and post this question on the Facebook group: Main Street Mamas : East Bay (CA)  People respond super quickly and lots of good advice!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


4 week old can't get milk out of bottle

March 2007

My baby is one month and I am trying to introduce a bottle with breast milk in it. She happily sucks on the bottle but she is unable to get any milk out. I am using Avent bottles with the 1 month nipple on it. Any suggestions? new mom

Maybe the hole in the nipple needs to be made bigger. I've had to do that in the past with the baby I helped raised. It was taking her too long to get just a couple of ounces into her. The bigger hole made a wonderful difference. Start by making the hole a little bigger and go from there. Randy Jane Reitzes, LVN, CMT, CCHH

I had a similar problem with my baby... try a variety of bottles, it may take sometime (weeks or more) before your baby gets the hang of it. The breastflow bottle from The First Years company (sold at Babys R Us) worked well for me. (email me if you want mine, i no longer need them) margaret

My adopted son was bottle fed from birth. The silicone in Avent nipples was too thick or stiff or something, and he never could get the milk to flow easily. We've had good luck with the Playtex ''drop-in'' silicone nipples and bottle, so maybe try those. You can always decant the milk from the Avent bottles if that's the kind of pump you have. bottle-feeding mama

Get the Avent nipples with more holes. Your baby is less likely to take a bottle if it's a chore. If at 4-weeks she's a good nurser, chances are that she won't suddenly prefer a bottle to you, even it if is easier to get milk out. anon

my lactation consultant only recommends Playtex Premium nurser drop-ins for young EBF babies. I just bought one today so can't tell you how it will work with my 6 week old yet! my LC is an old hippie, was mid wife, now LC, and just knows everything...OK, not everything, but she is wise, experienced, and thoughtful. swear by my LC 

Tongue-tied baby having trouble with bottle

June 2005

Hello, My daughter is almost 2 months olds and refuses to take the bottle. We first introduced the bottle when she was 3 weeks old. After a few minor battles, she actually drank from it quite well for about 2-3 weeks. Now, however, she is absolutely fighting us. It's very stressful because I will be returning to work in about 2months. I also need to mention that she is tongue-tied. The skin that attaches the tongue to the bottom of her mouth is elongated. I've been told that this may inhibit her from comfortably sucking on a nipple. My oldest is also tongue-tied and he didn't have a problem with our bottles of choice. It just baffles me that she once took it willingly but now screams in our faces. We are currently using Advent bottles? I would appreciate any suggestions regarding what to do. Thanks in advance! dna30

My daughter was the same way - exactly! The bad news is that she NEVER took to a bottle again. The good news is that she started drinking from a sippy cup at 5 months old. She still hasn't perfected it at 9 months but she can do it and get fluids. We tried every single bottle, every single position, every single time, every single liquid, every single temperature, every single person and nothing worked. She just would not go fo rit. But, in the end, I think it made life easier because now we won't have to wean from the bottle, which took a long time with our older girl. Good luck. anon

I am a lactation consultant who is also a mother of baby born tongue tied.

I would urge you to look into having your baby's freunulum cut. The procedure is simple and easy while your baby is young, though pediatricians are often under educated about how they can effect feeding.

We took my son to an oral surgeon. Once she established the tongue tie, she gave him a pacifier dipped in sugar water, grabbed his tongue with a some gauze, injected just a bit of lidocaine, then snipped it. After holding someone gauze on the cut for a moment, she was done.

My son was nursing in 1 minute after we were done. We saw improvement in his weight that very week.

The benefit to doing it now, as opposed to waiting is that waiting can cause health issues- as baby may not be able to adequating drain a breast or bottle, there can be speech issues, and it's a more complicated procedure to do once the child gets older- often times involving general anesthesia.

As far as bottles go, I have 2 suggestions, go with a plastic bottle such as gerber that you can sort of squeeze to help the flow. Or make sure that you use a nipple with a larger hole to allow the milk/formula to come out easier. Rae


6-month-old soaked in milk from bottle

March 2003

My 6 month old gets bottles of pumped breastmilk, and some formula mixed with breastmilk, when I am at work. Although she rejected the bottle at first, she now eagerly reaches for it. However, when she drinks from the bottle a lot of the milk runs down her chin, soaking through her bib and clothes. The milk seems to run out the corners of her mouth while she is sucking and swallowing. She doesn't mind in the slightest, but it makes feeding her, particularly when we're out, difficult. I thought she'd outgrow it, but it's been about two months and there hasn't been any change. I have tried all different shapes of nipples, and nothing seems to make a difference. I'd love a suggestion about what to do. Rebecca

Maybe she needs a nipple that doesn't flow so fast. If you haven't already, try the kind for newborns that have smaller/fewer holes. VM

My son did that too. He's now 17 months old and is much neater when he nurses/drinks from a bottle. It's eating solid food that is very messy now! Your daughter should grow out of this. Just keep a bib on her. Amanda