Refusing the Bottle at 3-5 Months

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi there, 

    We are currently trying to train our 4.5 month old to take a bottle. I've read through a lot of posts on BPN that have been really helpful for this. We've been relying on different family members (partner, MIL, etc) trying to give the bottle. We even tried one full day of just "bottle feeding" and she only took 2 oz. It's been a difficult journey. Reading about other people's experiences here makes me feel less alone. 

    I'm looking for a nanny or caregiver who would take a short term contract to bottle train. Specifically, a nanny who has had success in doing this before. Do you have any recommendations or advice on this? Will a nanny take a short term contract to do this?

    Thanks in advance,



    I am so sorry you’re going through this. Went/going through same with my daughter who is same age as your baby. My best advice is to find nanny who is available for hire now and see if they are interested to do it. I don’t see why not when they’re in between jobs. It would probably take a week, maybe a couple. There are tons of nanny openings posted on BPN. 
    My daughter is starting with our nanny tomorrow in nanny share. She was able to feed her few times but it’s still iffy. My husband or parents can’t feed her but she’ll take a bottle from me. Kind of goes against the advice to leave the room and let someone else feed the baby… 

    I tried all the different bottles out there. Different milk temperatures and positions until I found something that works or maybe baby just gave up and drank it. 
    Good luck and hope you can resolve this quickly!

    Re: finding someone--there is a facebook group called "Nannies and Mommies Bay Area" with 40K+ members.  People often post looking for relatively obscure caregiver positions and are able to find help.

    We had a hard time introducing a bottle around 4.5 months as well. I know this is not quite what you are asking, but have you seen a lactation consultant? I highly suggest seeing Molly at East Bay Lactation Consultants ( She has a "bottle feeding" session type you can sign up for. She has tons of experience with babies in the same situation and the help she gave us was invaluable to getting my son to take a bottle (in the end, we went straight to a silicone sippy cup at 5 months for various reasons, at Molly's suggestion). Molly bottle fed him in her office so we could observe how she did it, pointed out key observations about his reactions, and gave us lots of great suggestions and a schedule to try things out at home. She was also available via text message and phone for follow ups. I also read a lot of information but sometimes it takes in-person expertise to make it happen and I highly suggest seeing her! Our visits were covered by our insurance so you may want to check with yours.

    I’m sorry this is difficult for you and your baby. Both of my children strongly refused to bottle feed. I’m curious if you are under time pressure to have your baby bottle fed (having to go back to work or needing a longer stretch away from your baby)?

    Something to consider: skip the bottle all together and introduce a sippy cup (one that does not require sucking, rather just dribbles). My second child took to this starting around 4 months when she started finger foods. It was messy and slow at first, but she got the hang of it. For her, I think it was helpful to have something completely different than a substitute for the breast. 

    Hi, sorry you're going through this. We had the same problem. We did a few things that dramatically helped:
    - made sure the milk was as close to "human" temperature as possible
    - we changed the nipple from slow-flow to medium-flow
    - used silicone ola-baby bottle
    - paced-feeding (google it and you'll find tips)
    - mom never bottle-feeds baby. I'm always the one who does it
     It took us 2 weeks of consistent practice. I always needed my wife's assistance because bebe protested so much. After 2 weeks she got the idea and now she loves the bottle. It's our daddy-daughter bonding time.

  • 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!


    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).

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Having a hard time getting 3 month old to take bottle

April 2008

I am a new parent of a three month old girl. I have one more month of maternity leave left and I'm having a difficult time getting her to take a bottle. She is breast fed exclusively and I have pumped since she was six weeks old. However, she has taken the bottle only a few times. She doesn't like pacifiers either and we've tried every bottle/nipple out there. I've also tried spoon feeding her, sippy cups, warm/hot milk, etc. My biggest concern is when she has to go to daycare. I'm out of ideas and pressed for time! Any suggestions or advice? Thanks! L

This sounds like my daughter exactly. She never used a pacifier, I breastfed exclusively, I tried to pump and give her an occasional bottle but after about 2 or 3 weeks of age she would not take a bottle at all and I gave up until she was around 3 months and I tried again because I had to go back to work soon like you but I had no luck. I bought every nipple manufactured and tried all of the things in the baby books. When she was 4 months old I had to start working. I took her to the daycare in the morning, came back 3 hours later during lunch to breastfeed, went back to work for 3 hours and then picked her up for the day because that was all that was really feasible. Simultaneously, I would send a small bottle of pumped milk to the daycare every day and an angel of a woman who took care of her worked with my daughter a little bit every day to get her to take the bottle. It is all such a blur now several years later and I can't remember exactly how long it took (about a month maybe less?) but she got her to take the bottle. Once she would take a bottle at daycare and she was drinking more I started giving her formula because the nature of my work made it impossible to pump. I still breastfed at home but the less I nursed the more formula she drank which led to her quitting the breast on her own at about 7 months. You can do it but it is going to be several weeks of uncertainty which is very uncomfortable in this situation. Have patience and ask your daycare to help you and work with you. They deal with this all the time they don't expect your daughter to come in being totally bottle trained, at least I hope they don't. It feels heart breaking now but it is a short period of time in the grand scheme of things and your daughter will be OK. You should try to work something out with your employer for the first month or so to have some flexibility while dealing with the transition. Good luck! anon

Babies often will not take a bottle from their nursing mother - have you had someone else try to feed her yet? With you out of the room? Also if you haven't tried it yet Adiri natural nurser bottles are most like a breast - you can buy them at Whole Foods. good luck

My daughter is going on 3 years now, but I remember we had this same issue. I was very stressed and emotional about it at the time. I can tell you what we did that worked. We did a ''bottle bootcamp''. My amazing midwife actually volunteered to spend the morning with my daughter when she was 4 months or so. If the baby is hungry--she will learn how to do it. Do you have someone that would do this for you? You can also hire an experienced babysitter/nanny to do this. Anyway--just an option. Good luck! Kelly

Dear L--

My (now 6 month old) son also refused a bottle and was 100% breastfed. We also tried an amazing permutation of bottles, nipples, temperatures, etc. He finally (on his own timetable) started taking a random bottle here and there, but it was really up to him as to when he'd do it.

We'd heard there's this ''magical window'' of time when you have to get them on a bottle or you've ''lost your chance'' of it ever happening. That, of course, scared us. Further reading and talking with doulas, friends, etc. has convinced us that ''window'' is bunk. So try not to get worried about that.

Your baby WILL take a bottle. Eventually. On her own time table. It may not be till the very first day of day-care, but she WILL take it. Don't fear. She won't starve. Best of luck! Been There

BPN archives has great advice on this issue, which was very helpful. I returned to work part-time when our baby was 3 months old. We had been trying to bottle feed since she was 6 weeks, but she was resistant. Like yours, she didn't like pacifiers either. We tried different bottles and nipples, all with the same result. Right before I returned to work my husband and I started giving her a bottle at the same time every day. Sometimes she drank about an ounce, and other times she'd completely rejected it. We found we had the best luck with Born Free bottles/nipples. When I started going to work (four to five hours in the mornings), I would feed her right before leaving. My husband, who is caring for her at home, would try to give her the bottle a couple hours later and many times she would not drink anything and would cry. When I'd get home she'd be very cranky and very hungry, and I'd end up doing a marathon of feedings all afternoon. After a couple of weeks of this, though, she had a breakthrough. She has been drinking happily from the bottle without any issues now. We continue giving her bottles on the weekend to stay consistent. I think she just needed some time to get used to it. A couple of things helped: 1) we play her favorite music at very loud volume during the feeding to distract her, 2) we make sure to feed her before she gets very hungry so that she is still in a good mood, 3) we make sure my husband, the caregiver, always gives her the bottle, and 4) we keep trying at different times if she doesn't take the bottle the first time. My advice is to keep trying. Good luck! It does get better!

We introduced the bottle at about 4 weeks and couldn't get her to drink more than a few sips for months. She simply preferred the breast (very loudly) and I never pumped all that productively (plus I hated washing all the gear just to have her reject those few precious ounces!) We tried to keep exposing her once a week, maybe more faithfully and more frequently as I approached having to go back to work (she was maybe seven months). Here's what worked for us:

1. we cultivated a set bottle feeding - eventually every day we would give her a bottle at this time. (We developed the habit of evening family bath - very warm and relaxing, low pressure environment. In fact we would put a capped bottle with partially thawed milk into the tub as the water was running, and the bottle would be the perfect temperature by the time we were ready to bathe. My husband would generaly be in charge of holding her in the bath and feeding her the bottle.)

2. The first couple days I went back to my job full-time, she only drank a couple ounces a day. But within a week, she was up to what the pediatrician recommended.

3. To the extent possible, take a deep breath and know that your baby will adjust and you too! With a good daycare provider, you will find your baby can learn to do so many things she may not even do for you (bottle feed, nap well, etc.)

hope that helps mom of a former bottle-rejectiung baby

Both of my kids were serious resisters of the bottle, and it was frustrating to go through the process. But persistence was the key for both, and consistency. I recommend offering the bottle every day, once or twice. Don't make it into a power struggle. Let him/her chew on it, whatever. Put it in the mouth far enough where he/she gets the idea to suck on it. There is also the trick of starting feeding on the breast and then slipping in the bottle once the baby is sucking. That shows them the bottle will feed them. With both of my kids, after several weeks, they finally learned to drink from the bottle and they were a lot happier than the babies I know who never learned and suffered when their mommy went back to work. Another thing, maybe you can have the daycare provider try it before you go back to work. They sometimes have ways, and may be willing to help you with this. Lynne

I had that problem with my first child. We solved it by having someone other than you give her the bottle. She has learned that you are the one with breasts so expects that from you. Have her father give her the bottle. Don't worry, if she gets hungry, she will take it. Hope that works. It only took a day with our baby. kr

Sorry you're having to stress out about this as you prepare to return to work! I had a little trouble getting my son to take a bottle as well, and here are some of the things that worked well for us:

- Have someone besides you feed her. Don't even be in the room and don't let her hear your voice. In other words, resist the temptation to offer advice to your partner/husband/babysitter from the next room like I did.

- Run the nipple under warm water to soften/warm it up right before feeding.

- Position your daughter sitting in the feeder's lap facing forward, leaning her back against their chest, rather laying down in someone's arms, since that is so similiar to breastfeeding.

Best of luck to you! A Fellow Nursing Mom

3 month old was accepting a bottle, isn't now

Jan 2008

My son is 3 months old and have been nursing fulltime, with a bottlefeeding twice a day since he was born. He has recently started refusing to accept the bottle and insists on nursing all of the time. He was accepting a bottle from my husband, but not me. Now, he is fighting with my husband when it is feeding time and cries for a long time for me.

I will need to return to work soon and will not be able to nurse him during the day. I am afraid that he will cry the whole day and refuse to eat. He has cried until he chokes before. Has anyone had similar problems and have any advice to overcome his aversion? Thanks. D

have your husband keep offering once a day it when you are out of the room. you baby probably won't take it, but keep offering. my second did the same thing - would take the bottle, then stopped. we were nervous for when i returned to work. then, the nanny shows up, the environment feels different to the baby, and they take the bottle. my #2 was just like this and she took the bottle immediately. i did have a very good nanny - not a ton of experience but just excellent with kids. try not to worry too much, just do your best and it will work out. anon

3 month old refusing bottle - what should I do?

July 2007

My 3 month old daughter has been refusing to take the bottle for the past 4 weeks. She was introduced to the bottle at 6 weeks and did very well, both nursing and taking the bottle at least 2 times a day. I was even the one giving her the bottle. Now, she's anti-bottle. I've stepped out of the room, and have had other people attempt to give it to her and still no go. I have to return to work on August 1st and I'm freaking out. What should I do??? Jo-Annie

i see there's tons of past advice. i'm not gonna look at it all, so i'll be brief: very common (usually between 3-4mos) to start to refuse it. when she's hungry enough, she'll eat. if dr.s can say it's ok for (and even encourage) older babies to not get food all night, then they can stand to go all day (but probably will eat eventually). just be ready for the all night nursathon to make up for it. and don't cry too much when you see your spurned pumped milk go down the drain (boy, that's tough to see!). signed: BTDT, but she drank it eventually (but not the first week or so...)

3 month old is suddenly refusing the bottle

Dec 2006

My son is 3 months old and breast fed. We introduced him to a periodic bottle of breast milk starting at 6 weeks old and everything was fine until about 1 week ago when he suddenly decided that he didn't like the bottle from me or my husband. I have switched nipples with no luck. It was suggested that I try a different bottle altogether. I would welcome input from anyone who has gone through this and overcome it. I am returning to work at the end of January and I am stressed that he will cry all day at day care refusing the bottle amf

we went through exactly the same thing a couple of months ago. it was a battle for my daughter to learn to suck from the bottle's nipple, and we tried many kinds! we just had to keep trying, and usually my husband was a bit more successful than i was (maybe because she smelled me and expected the breast?). i know it's hard, but be persistent. i was worried she wouldn't eat at daycare, but she did just fine. i think that with the practice, they'll do ok, especially if they're hungry! good luck! new mama

I wouldn't worry too much, and I wouldn't bother with trying a different bottle if he was taking the other kind before. It's pretty typical for children to reject the bottle for a little while around 3 months, but if you keep offering it, they will get used to it again.

It's so hard, I know! I started giving my son one bottle of pumped milk a day from the time he was a few weeks old because I wanted to prepare him for when I had to go back to work at 3 months. He took it like a pro right from the beginning and was perfectly happy with it every day, right up till a week before I went back to work. (Just about 3 months old). Then he started refusing it and fussing every time we offered it. I was very stressed because I didn't have a choice about going back to work.

He had some trouble the first week I was back, but while I was at work, his caregivers kept offering it, and he drank some milk each day for the first week (not as much as I would have liked), and over the next few weeks he got less fussy and drank more. So, if you can think of this as normal development where he has started to be more discriminating and is expressing a preference for the breast, it might make you feel better. AND knowing that he won't starve while you're at work, and especially if he took the bottle before, he'll take it again if you and his care givers are patient.

Good luck. I know how hard it is to go back to work. It's nice that you still have a little time--keep offering the bottle every day, but don't stress too much if he doesn't take it. Been in your shoes!

We went through the same thing with our son when I went back to work (granted he was a little bit older). First, read the archives on the parents network, there was some helpfully info there. What ended up working for us was not using a nipple bottle at all, but instead using the Avent soft sippy cup inserts you can use on their bottles. They have them for 3 month olds. What we did as well is cut a very small wedge out of the rubber stopper that snaps on to the sippy cup insert so that the milk would flow a little faster. Also sometimes putting a little formula in it helped as if it was just breast milk it didn't seem right to him that it wasn't coming out of a breast. When he first started day care they actually would spoon feed him milk at first but then he got into the groove of using the avent sippy cups. hang in there!

We dealt with exactly the same thing except that it sounds like you were better about the bottle in the beginning than I was.

We basically did bottle-training boot camp before I went back to work at 3 mos. and it wasn't what I'd call fun, but she did get it and was fine after that. The trying different bottles/ nipples is good advice: My daughter transitioned with the playtex nipple (I think it's bigger and softer than some others) and then we switched to the Avent once she was really good. I also ordered this expensive (`$18) ''breast-bottle'' off the web which is designed to look and feel more like a breast. My babies were not impressed, but maybe yours would like it.

Another friend of mine said she pumped and left the house for the day and her husband got their baby to take the bottle. Sometimes they won't take it from mom but will take it from dad or someone else.

Good luck! Naomi

3 month old refusing bottle with breastmilk

March 2006

Hello! I'm currently experiencing a difficult situation and wondered if anyone has advice. I currently breastfeed my 3mo baby girl. When I leave to work for a few hours or to take a class or just get out...I leave a bottle or two of pumped milk with her and her dad. She did fine the first three or four times but since then has refused to drink from a bottle. Any ideas? Should I change the bottle type? Nipple type? Keep trying until she gets it? I don't leave too long so she's not starving but...she goes a good 2 or 3 hours sometimes without drinking. And I'd rather she did. Thanks!

I could have written your post about 1 month ago. We gave our daughter a bottle of pumped milk with no problems starting at one month. But, we were only doing it about once a week. Well, I guess that was too infrequent and one day she just refused to take the bottle. I was really upset about this as I envisioned no time away from her for the next 10 months or so until she was weaned. My goal was to get her in the habit of taking a bottle every day and then once that was established just taking a bottle as needed (but at least every other day so at least she wouldn't get out the habit again.)

Well, here are the things that worked for us - 1) I fed her a bottle first thing in the morning when she was hungry and half asleep. I did this for a few days - to a week, just trying to establish the bottle habit. She would take the bottle this way, but only an ounce or two.

2) On the advice of a friend I changed bottles from Avent system to Evenflo. The Evenflo nipple is shorter and apparently more breast-like. She did seem to like this bottle a bit better, but still wouldn't really take the bottle.

3) I bought a bottle warmer and warmed the milk warmer than I actually thought was necessary. She seems to like it better this way.

4) I put her in her infant car seat or bouncer seat and fed her the bottle without touching her. THIS REALLY WORKED!

I can now leave the house without worrying about her feeding schedule. Her care- giver plops her in one of the seats and gives her the bottle. She now coos and smiles through the feedings. I still don't think she is drinking quite as much as when I breastfeed her. She will take 4 oz. max. But she will also take a subsequent feeding by bottle, if necessary. And when I return she just seems to nurse a bit longer and harder which helps keep up milk supply anyway.

Anyway, I hope this helps! I definitely know how frustrating this can seem. Good Luck!

My daughter also was fine with a bottle while I was on maternity leave. Then, suddenly, I had been back at work about a week, she started to refuse. We tried everything - I thought at first it was my diet, so I quit chocolate, tea, many vegetables - kind of everything with flavor. Then we thought it was the plastic bottles I was pumping and storing in, so we switched to glass. Still, only slight improvement.

Finally, we switched her daycare, and they suggested that we try soy formula, only during the day while she's drinking from a bottle. I was torn, because I'd hoped to keep her on just breast milk for several more months (she is 6 mos). We went ahead and tried it, and she drank several bottles of milk that day and since.

I wouldn't switch to formula right away - I'd do all the things you suggested - try a different bottle, a different nipple. Our daughter won't *touch* a silicone nipple - only rubber. Try glass instead of plastic. Try holding her differently. Try offering the bottle every 20 minutes or so... But then if all else fails, do a formula test. Good luck! cate

I'm not sure you said how old your baby is. I know we missed the ''window'' to get our now 15-month-old to take a bottle. I went back to work when she was about 9 months and she refused to take a bottle during the 8 hours I was gone for a long time (1-2 months!) She was eating solids and drinking water out of a sippy cup, but it was stressful. After I took 2 weeks for winter break, she refused again for at least a month. The nipple she finally took is the NukNuk, but I think that is because the other baby in our nanny share uses that one. The only thing that worked was to keep trying every day and remember that babies will not starve themselves and she will take the bottle when she realizes that is her only option. If your schedule is irregular, you could try to make sure you leave her with someone else to offer the bottle a few hours every day, so she learns it is a regular thing. I suggest you keep trying, because the longer you wait, the more stubborn they get (in our experience). You might also try formula instead of breast milk in the bottle - our daughter refused breast milk from any source other than the breast, but she did drink formula (especially watered down) and now drinks whole milk (watered down). She also makes up for it by breastfeeding more when I am around. Good luck! Miranda

We had the same problem (starting at about 3 months -- it was ok before that.) While I was at work (3 hours), my husband walked her if she cried. Sometimes, they'd go with me to the class I was teaching to minimize the time. My husband would go to a cafe and figure out other ways to distract the baby (and himself). Then when class was over I'd nurse in the car. The problem was fairly short-lived because at around 5 months he was able to feed her milk from a spoon, which she was willing to take. this too will pass

We ran into the same diffifulty with bottle feeding. I stayed home for over one year with our second child and during that time I only breast feed our daughter. When our daughter was 9 months old, I knew that I need to go back to work after she turned one year old, so I started to introduce the bottle. It was unsuccessful. SInce the bottle came late in the game, when our daughter was 9 months old, she had already grown an attachment to the breast and to me holding her while she received milk. I tired various nipples, bottle and even sippy cups. She would entertain these new devices like they were toys and simply turn away from all nipples, bottle and sippy cups. I became desperate and needed be sure that when I am at work she would receive milk. I started to spoon feed her the milk. One method of getting to sit still to take her spoon feed milk was to le ther watch her favorite show, Barney. It was the only time that I can get her to sit on my lap and have her attention completely on Barney. I would get the milk (at that time used formula) warmed it in a bowl, turn Barney on and have my daughter sit on my lap while I spoon feed the milk. One spoon at a time. It took about 10-15 minutes at the most to finish and eventually I was able to do it in 5 minutes. I would do this 3-4 times a day, depending on how her schedule works out for each day.

Our daughter is 18 months now, and I no longer need to spoon feed milk to her, as she has taken a liking to milk's flavor and now takes it all by herself from a cup with a built in straw.

I know that it is tedious and time consuming, but all worth it. I wanted our daughter to like the taste of milk so as she gets older she can drink on her own with a straw cup. I think if I didn't introduce milk (formula or cow) when I did with spoon feeding, she might not acquire a taste for it. And now she loves it.

My advise to you is to try this method as kids grow older they become more independent and will eventually ask for milk in a cup. Happy Milk Mom

4-month-old won't take bottle - we've tried everything

June 2007

Help! My baby won't take a bottle. I've tried every nipple known to man, I've had various other people try to give her the bottle, I've put grape jelly on end of the nipple, I've waited till the brink of starvation...blah blah blah!!!!!!!! She's 4 months old, and my husband and I are so frustrated, as we have tried since the first month. pam

Consider yourself blessed and give her sippy cups!! If she doesn't want it, accept it. If down the road she shows interests, she'll ask for it. It's a drag to see big kids with bottles! My baby isn't interested in pacifiers and can live without bottles! I have three bottles and no pacifiers have saved me bundles and he's fine and happy! Stop worrying!! Babies are extremely intelligent and know and express their needs. Hallelujia

4-month-old refuses bottle, resorting to sippy cup

Feb 2007

I have been breastfeeding my son since birth and he is 4 months old now. I introduced the bottle to him when he was 4 weeks old and he was drinking one feed a day until he was 8 weeks old and then all of a sudden he refused to take the bottle. I have tried everything and keep offering him an ounce or two everyday hoping that he will take the bottle. I have decided to start him on the sippy cup as I will be going back to work when he turns 6 months old. I bought a sippy cup but realized it has a valve which means he will have to suck from it, which he is not interested in (I figured this would happen). Is 4 months too young to start on the sippy cup without the valve ? What should I do when he starts daycare ? I plan to start him on solids when he is close to 6 months old but even then, milk will be his primary source of nutrition and I am afraid that he will not drink milk from the cup or the bottle when he is in daycare. Has anyone else experienced this problem? Any advice would be welcome. worried mama

Hi, I too had a child who refused to take a bottle. She then had trouble with a sippy cup at age 1 even when her peers easily took it. I suggest trying the sippy cup without the valve. Then they don't have to suck as hard, but they do have to tip the cup and it's not leak proof. Another option are the sippy cups with straws. You do not have to suck as hard to make those work and you don't have to tip them. For my child, that was easier. They are not totally leak proof. Rubbermaid makes a version that is sold in grocery stores with the other food storage items (Tupperware type stuff) and Playtex makes an insulated version too. Good luck! Hardin

I got my son back on the bottle after a break by breastfeeding him and slipping in the bottle before he realized what was up. I did this only a couple of times. I also used the nipple to squirt a little into his mouth with him in an upright position, but be careful with this as baby can choke. Others may tell you that at daycare he will take a bottle if he is really hungry, or he may wait until he gets home. Good luck. been there

I hear your pain!! We just went through this with our 5 month old. although we introduced the bottle around 3 mos, she refused it and I needed to start work. After two difficult weeks, she finally has taken the bottle. The things that worked (after spending a fortune on every type of nipple and bottle, and every night online looking for a ''magic trick''), were having another person give it to her, keeping consistent with the one bottle/nipple that she seemed to hate the least, and putting formula in it.

The absolute worst thing you'll have to go through is knowing that your baby hasn't eaten all day (and this is very very hard.) The best thing to know is something an advice nurse told me: most babies will absolutely take the bottle when they are hungry enough, even though some people tell you they won't. In our case this was true. During the day, she did not eat, and i nursed her every hour until bedtime and through the night. She coped by sleeping more during the day and crying, of course. Finally, thankfully she is taking it.

If you can afford it, hire someone you trust to do this for you all week/weekend. The greatest advice nurse told me that the babies will not take a bottle from their breastfeeding mother. After all, why would they when you've got what they want.

visit www, for great info and support.

Good luck, I really feel your pain. But I just know that your baby can and will do it! ssc

I had the EXACT same problem with my son. We used the Avent soft sippy cup spouts. Don't take out the valve, the milk will just flow way too fast and he'll gag. What we did is cut out a very small piece from the valve. This allowed the milk to flow a lot slower.

Also, I've seen many posts on BPN about kids not taking a bottle/sippy at daycare. A lot of folks wrote saying it's ok if they go 7 - 8 hrs at daycare w/ out drinking much, but that they'll make up for it at home. anon

My daughter did EXACTLY the same thing. She took the bottle for about two weeks (although reluctantly) at 6 weeks and then refused it altogether. We stopped trying to bottle feed her a couple ounces every day. She would either cry and get hysterical or just play w/ the nipple in her mouth and not take any milk.

She started daycare when she was 6 months old as well. A couple weeks before daycare, we started solids. I gave her a sippy cup w/o a valve but she didn't know what to do w/ it. I first had to teach her to drink my milk from a small open top cup (small diameter shot glass to be exact). I then moved to the sippy cup w/o a valve. She is using the sippy cup top for the Avent bottles. Some of the other sippy cups were too hard to use w/o a valve. They had internal drains on the lids that did not allow for all the milk to come out of the cup. Some cups had views that were obstructed and I could not see whether milk was pouring out from the spout. I found the Avent bottles w/ sippy cup spout to be the best. The daycare is now feeding her milk w/ the Avent bottle/sippy lid. It takes a while and it can be very messy, but it works. At daycare, she eats solids 2 to 3 times a day and has 3 'bottles' of milk.

On the positive side, your baby won't be lying down sucking milk from a bottle, which prevents ear infections, and you won't need to wean him from a bottle. Right now my daughter is learning to hold an open cup with handles and can almost drink from the cup! Good Luck! pamela

Try a few different nipples, persevere, and try having someone else give the bottle to your baby. If left alone with your partner and a bottle (ie you are out of the house) your baby will eventually decide to take it. I wouldn't try the sippy cup without a valve as you will lose most of the milk. anon

oohh, you are not alone on this one. my 7 month old son suddenly started refusing the bottle at age 4 months. like your son, he had been fed from a bottle daily, but still, one day, poof, he just decided he wouldn't do it. i returned to work when he was 6 months. i only work 2-3 days a week, but am gone for 10 hours at a time. i will tell you some of the things we have done to keep him fed and hydrated in the absence of the beloved breasts:

-spoon feed breastmilk or formula that has been slightly thickened with rice cereal -offer sips of breastmilk or forumula thru a regular cup

-tried at straw (at my pediatrician's recommendation) -give baby applesauce, pears and carrots, especially for their watery, non constipating quality -introduced whole fat yogart (okay'd by my pediatrician) just to get more milk products and calories in him.

-offered watered down juice via the bottle, which the little stinker will drink a little of and keeps him hydrated

this all takes a lot of effort on the part of his caregive (his dad) but it seems to keep him properly hydrated and content. when i get home from work, i basically nurse him twice an hour until he goes to bed and i breastfeed him more frequently at night. we were having a constipation issue, but that has resolved since he started taking 2-3 ounces of juice and water while i'm away along with pureed prunes. we continue to offer the bottle and sippycup, but so far he hasn't taken from them. i think its a good idea to start the table foods for your baby sooner than later so that he/she will have a good repetoire going by time you go back to work. remember in the begining you should only offer one new food every 5 to 7 days.

also, don't give up on the bottle and sippycup, cause you never know what your baby will give in to when your not around. i would also recommend pumping in the evenings before you return to work so that when you do start working your body will be ready to meet the baby's feeding demands in the evenings after work. good luck. i can't say it isn't a little stressful, but it's do-able. mommy of babe who loves the breast

Hi, My 6.5 month old also refuses the bottle and at this point, I have just put them all away. I went through the same thing where she took it initially, but by 10 weeks, she just refused it. I also tried the sippy, and she was more interested in that, than the bottle, but would get to much when she sucked, so just stopped. My mother suggested trying a cup, which she really prefers now. Sometimes it can get a bit messy, but what I do now is take the suction part out of the sippy cups (the Avent infant ones are great because they are soft and fit on the bottles) and just drop a bit into her mouth at a time like she is sipping it.

She takes it just fine and prefers that. The way I look at it now is that at least I wont have to wean her from a bottle later on. Check to see if the day cares would do that...I dont know why they wouldnt becuase its just like bottle feeding. Good Luck... mina

Struggling to get 4-month-old to take bottle

Oct 2004

I am really struggling trying to get my 4 month old boy to take a bottle. I introduced the bottle when he was 2 months (one a day), but have continued to breastfeed. I have tried everthing...different nipples, different times of the day, someone else giving him the bottle, etc... and it is not getting any easier. It takes an hour to give him 3 oz and then he is hungry again 1/2 hour later. He just lolls the nipple in his mouth and can't quite seem to suck. I really want to continue breastfeeding for at least another 6 months, but also want him to drink from a bottle. I would love to hear any suggestions or if anyone has had a similar struggle and what you did about it. Lisa

My daughter also wasn't big on the bottle. Like you, I struggled with all sorts of different strategies to get her to take it. But you know what? She is now 13 mos old, I breastfed her until 10 mos, and in retrospect, I'm really glad she never took a bottle, because it would have been just one more thing to wean her from. I actually plan to just skip the bottle with my next one, now. You can introduce a sippy cup at your baby's age. I offered my daughter a cup at 5 mos, just occasionally; she got the hang of it between 6 and 7 mos, and could hold it herself at 8 mos. It's been great--no bottle weaning. Granted, you are more tied to your baby having to nurse all the time until your baby gets the hang of a cup, but you could consider it a blessing--you'll miss it later! Best wishes. happy with a cup

Breastfed 4-month-old refusing formula

May 2003

I have a 4 month old son, who has been breastfeed exclusively. I will be starting work in 3 weeks so i want to introduce formula. I have tried several times but he is rejecting it. His father has also tried feeding him formula in a bottle but without any sucess. Since i am starting work soon, I am really concerned. Pumping is not an option for me as it is too painful(even with an electric pump).

When i start work I want to nurse him once in the morning and then in then evening and nights. However I want to feed him formula while I am away during the day. Does anyone know if this can work (both breastfeed and formula feedings)? Also does anyone have tips on how I can make him take the formula? Please help...

First, the good news Yes, combi feeding is possible. However, some women do seem to struggle to keep up their supply when doing this, and many babies who get a lot of bottles, especially of formula, wean prematurely. Nurse your baby as much as you can during the hours you're together -- possibly even if that means more interrupted sleep, or commuting home and back on your lunch hour. You may find that you have to supplement with formula on the weekends, during the hours you're ordinarily at work.

Chances are, your baby will come to accept the bottle eventually, but even if he doesn't, he'll likely be fine. I know a few moms whose babies have ''reverse cycled'' -- sleeping a lot and taking the bare minimum from a bottle during the workday, and nursing a lot in the evening and through the night. If you can cope with that, it's fine for your baby.

The bad news Your baby is probably rejecting both the taste of the formula (smart boy!) and the bottle itself. There are lots of tricks that you can try to help with bottle refusal, but everyone I know who's dealt with this was using pumped breastmilk, not formula, so I've no idea whether they'll work for you. Anyway, the main one is to vary the temperature of the milk (formula); try everything from a bit warmer than body temp to straight out of the fridge. Also, try varying how the person feeding the bottle holds the baby -- some prefer a greater distinction from nursing position, while others reject the bottle unless everything else is as close as possible to nursing. Oh, and DON'T try to give bottles yourself (except possibly as a last resort.) You want him to learn that Mommy=nursing and Everyone Else=bottles; otherwise, nipple confusion, bottle preference, nursing strikes and premature weaning are more likely.

Also You said you can't pump because it's painful, and I wonder whether you've tried some different types of pump? Or hand expression? Have you tried it since you got over the newborn-period sore and/or cracked nipples (assuming you have)? (A decent pump should not be painful. If you've been using a Gerber, First Years or Evenflo, throw it in the trash and buy a real pump.) I had HUGE psychological issues with using an electric pump and, throughout my pregnancy, insisted that I Would Not Pump. Well, to make a long story short, some of the initial problems we had breastfeeding put an end to that, and I learned that I could indeed cope with using the Avent Isis manual pump, and got good enough results to use it at work every day for seven months.

But if you choose not to (and it's hard to blame you -- pumping *is* a royal pain), then don't worry. Your baby won't starve himself. You'll work it out. I wish you the best. Holly

I am also starting to give my 4 month old formula after exclusive breastfeeding. Fortunately, I am pumping so I am able to mix formula with breastmilk so she can get used to the taste. First I started with a small amount of formula mixed in, then when she seemed to tolerate it and like the taste, I've been raising the proportion. I suggest you keep trying the pump . It does hurt and feel strange at first, but just like nursing, it gets better over time and is totally worth it. You might also consider a different pump. I use a Medela and it's great.

I was able to breatfeed when home and use formula when not, with good milk supply until 9 months old with two babies. I pumped for a time when I went back to work, but my job didn't allow me to do it regularly, so I ended up nursing 3 times per day only after they slept through the night at 5-6 months. My kids rejected both bottle and breast soon after they started walking (both at 9 months old), or I probably could have kept the 1/2- 1/2 arrangement going until 1 year. You must keep well hydrated to do it, but your milk supply is so well established by 4 months it's likely to work for you. I don't have much advice on switching over to formula feeds at this age- I introduced a bottle every few days starting at 3 weeks or so and they didn't mind formula after the first few times (how come they're so picky now about food?!)

Though it may hurt to pump, my advice is to try mixing 1/3or 1/4 formula w/ breast milk and gradually increase the ratio of formula to breast milk. good luck

We got our son to take formula as a supplement (a few times a day along w/ breastfeeding a few times a day) at about 4 months.

A couple of suggestions

1) maybe try a different kind of formula. We used enfamil lactose free and found that was easier on his tummy. maybe he just doesn't like the taste of the particular one you are using.

2) We did it by having my husband try to feed him the bottle at the same time each day (for us it was the early morning feeding so I could sleep in). If the baby didn't cry but didn't take the bottle, he'd just wait a few minutes and try again. The first couple of times it didn't work, but after few tries of being introduced to the same thing at the same time, our son came to expect it and finally took the bottle. It became a bonding experience between him and his father. Maybe this would work with a caregiver as well. Gradually my son came to be able to take formula from his caregiver, my husband, and even me! I continued to both breastfeed and supplement with formula untill I weened him at 11 months.

Hope this helps, and good luck!
been there

I found that after my 4 month old learned to successfully take it from dad, I never had a problem feeding him a bottle and also breastfeeding when I wanted. He never had nipple confusion (by 4 months, the baby definitely knows the difference betweeen a nipple and a bottle, no matter who provides it!)I had trouble pumping as well, but the formula supplementing never disturbed my milk supply. my body just got used to nursing at the schedule I chose. I tried to bottle feed and nurse at predictable times each day. I think our comfort level with the decision to supplement affected how comfortable our son was with it and finally, after several tries, he began taking the bottle regularly, 2 or 3 times a day. It ended up working out really well for us.

Only you know if this choice if it is the right one for you and your baby. Good luck!

happy supplementer

Going back to work; 5-mo-old won't take bottle


I just went back to work part time two weeks ago. Our baby, Lily, will be five months on Feb. 20. She is breast fed and we tried to offer the bottle to her starting at about six weeks but she never really took to it. Now she becomes very upset when our babysitter gives it to her. (I am pumping). She cries really hard and only drinks an ounce at most. This weekend my husband tried the botttle (I left) and altho she didn't cry she only drank about an ounce again. I have only been working mornings, so leave her 5 1/2 hours at the most, so she nurses like crazy after I pick her up. Aside from the feeding problem she seems happy and stimulated with our babysitter. We've tried gerber and avent nipples. She seems to prefer the brown gerber one. A possible solution is for me to just work four half days until she takes to the sippy cup which I tried today and she didn't swallow any milk but it's easier for me to work two and a half days since it's a 30 minute drive. any ideas? Thanks! Andrea

I would like to ask for some advice regarding bottle-feeding. My daughter is 3-1/2 months old and I just went back to work. I pretty much exclsively breast fed her, although I gave her some bottles of breast milk and a breast milk/formula combination that she took fine. A couple weeks before I returned to work, we tried to give her bottles regularly, but she refused (I tried and my husband tried, and we tried different types of bottles, Avent, Evenflo, etc.). She refused them all. Since I went back to work (about 7 working days ago), she has followed this pattern: I breast feed her before I go to work (approx 8am), she's fine until about 11am or 12 noon (she refuses any bottles offered her, i.e., gnaws on the nipple a little and then begins crying until the bottle is taken away), eats about 1 oz. later in the afternoon (around 3 or 4pm), and then I breast feed her when I return home. As the day wears on, she becomes inconsolable unless she is being held, and cries a fair amount. FYI, we're feeding her breast milk in the bottles and she is being offered bottles throughout the day. I breast feed her when I am home. I am becoming very concerned because it just doesn't seem that it's good for her to go ten hours (I get home around 6pm) with eating only an ounce of milk. The pediatrician said to keep trying. Any advice?

Does anyone have advice on getting a 4 1/2 month old baby to take a bottle? We didn't start trying until he was in his third month (probably too late) and he still won't take it. I'm now back at work and the baby will spend a good solid hour or more screaming because he wants to nurse. He never gets to the point where he is hungry enough to eat. We have tried practically every bottle - avent, playtex, gerber, etc. and nothing seems to work. He eats rice cereal and some solids but when he wants comfort, a nap or his usual food he starts screaming. Any suggestions are welcomed. Thanks. D.

I've been trying to introduce my now 4 month old baby boy to drinking breast milk from a bottle for the last several weeks, with no success at all. He spits the bottle out of his mouth without sucking at all. It doesn't matter who offers it to him, or whether I'm around or not. He's been completely uninterested in pacifiers since he was born, so he has basically no experience sucking on anything but my breasts and his own hands. Does anyone have any tricks to get him to accept a bottle? Is it too late by now? I'd be VERY grateful for any ideas. Rachel

We had a lot of trouble getting our second child to take a bottle when she was about 4 months. It wasn't clear to me if you're giving breast milk or formula - my baby was getting breast milk in the bottle. But what seemed to have helped were these suggestions from my midwife (hooray for Lindy Johnson!!):
1. don't just go to another room - leave the house
2. wear the bottle nipple in your bra for a day so it smells like you
3. put some of the milk on the outside of the nipple
Hang in there & good luck!

We switched our son over to the Playtex Avance bottles, which have vented bottoms that also unscrew for easy cleaning, and special cross-cut nipples to keep bubbles away from the baby. He has found it much easier to get good flow with these and doesn't have to interrupt his sucking pattern to let air in. They come in small and larger (9 oz.) sizes, and cost $4-$5 at Longs, more at the supermarkets and Rite Aid when you can find them.

I was told that it is very common for breastfed babies to reject a bottle at around 4 or 5 months, even if they have taken it successfully before. When my baby did it, we first tried switching to a faster flow nipple (we also use Avent) -- this worked well for a while. You can try either the slow or medium flow or you can get the variable flow and save a bit of money. You might find that this is all you need: your baby may be crying because the milk isn't coming out fast enough (if the new nipple is *too* fast you'll know because s/he will cough or gag a bit -- not dangerous, but a clear sign).

You can also try a few other things, many of which I and the mothers in my new moms group tried: distract the baby -- ma bottle feeding no big deal by walking around the house as you do it, talking about other things, etc.; only feed a few ounces at a time instead of giving a whole feeding at once -- if the baby wants more, give another small amount (this has the added advantage of not wasting precious pumped milk -- if s/he doesn't take it, you only throw out a little bit); have someone other than mom give the bottle; try bottle feeding only when the baby is really hungry (note: this technique backfired on me, since it only made my baby angrier -- I had to do the opposite and try when she was *not* very hungry, sometimes after nursing a little first); bottle feed at the same time every day so your baby will come to expect it, then gradually increase the number of bottles to what you'll need when you have child care.

Finally, rest assured that your baby *will* get over this -- mine did, and so did everyone else I've heard about.

I hope you are able to accompllish this but, if your baby steadfastly and permanently refuses like my breastfed baby did, here's how we dealt with it. [Note: I was having breast infection problems until around 3 months during which time I was told I needed to avoid the bottle while retraining my daughter to latch on correctly. By then she was absolutely unwilling to switch.]

For the first two months after I returned to work, I took our caregiver to work with me. She took the baby and walked around campus and hung out in the engineering lounge during the day and brought the baby to me every two hours to feed. I also negotiated a special parking pass just for those two months as I fed the baby in the car--- there was no private, comfortable place to sit down. This worked until I decided it was too cold and rainy out. Then I negotiated at work to take 2 one hour breaks during each day and drove home then (15 minutes drive each way) to feed the baby so she was breastfed every 3 hours. Did that for a while -- sometimes required that I come in on the weekend to make up a few hours. Then I switched to half time work and negotiate to work at home where I had childcare. Which is just to say that, if your baby is as stubborn as mine, there may be a variety of possibilities for dealing with this problem. Good luck.

We had a very similar situation. First thing: The newborn Avent nipples hardly let any liquid through- try it yourself. If your breasts ever leak milk, then the baby is getting milk a lot faster than that avent nipple can provide (mine would squirt milk after lat down). We (that is the daycare providers, who are a lot more experienced at this than me) tried ALL the nipples and found that the nuk cross cut high flow work best. The rubber ones, not the silicon. That said, my baby, now 14 months NEVER liked the bottle. He almost always cried when my husband or the daycare people tried to give him the bottle (I was not in the house or at the daycare). I worried alot about him getting enough milk at daycare. Even now, his all time record for 9 hours of daycare is 5 oz of milk. Usually, I'd leave him in daycare for about 7 hours, and he drank 3-4 oz of breast milk from a bottle. My pediatrian assured me that this was fine- he made up for it when he got hom, and at night. I got less worried after he started to eat solids. Now he takes a sippy cup. We had no problem with the transition from bottle to cup. However, he still drinks maybe 1-2 oz of anything (milk or juice) at a time. He is still nursing in the evening and at night.

One consequence; my son still seems to save up his thurst for 6pm when he sees me. He always nurses then, and I am very full, so I think he gets a lot of milk then. He also still nurses twice a night, despite our attempts to limit this. I think he drinks at night and not in the day. I'm not worried at this point- I am sure he will be fine by the time he is 20. Good luck!

From the time my daughter was 2 months until 4 1/2 months, she absolutely refused to take a bottle. She started -- reluctantly -- only about 2 weeks before I went back to work (after I had all but given up hope). What worked for us was to experiment with different brands of nipples (Avent didn't work, Johnson & Johnson's Healthflow did), to have me be completely out of sight during feedings, and to have an experienced bottle-giver do the feeding. The nanny was the one who was finally able to get my daughter to take a bottle; someone it to trying to give a cat a pill yourself, then watching a vet do it. Since then, my daughter still has a clear preference preference for drinking her milk straight from the source, but she doesn't fight the bottle at all. I remember how much more stressful stressful this made my return to work. Just keep trying different approaches, and best of luck.

From: Leslie

When I returned to work, our daughter was 4 months old, and had only taken one or two bottles before (I, too, introduced it WAY too late). We tried many bottle/nipple variations -- none seemed to work. Then, at a friends suggestion, we put the handles on the Avent bottle, and VOILA! She took it like she'd been doing it all her life!

From: Heike

I had a similar situation when my baby started daycare at 7 months and refused to take bottle and baby food from the daycare provider on her first day. I immediately gave her the bottle when I went to pick her up after 4 hours, but then switched hands with the daycare provider holding the bottle half way through the feeding. I stepped behind the provider's back (out of my baby's sight) and kept talking to my baby throughout the remainder of the feeding. My baby must have had the impression that the provider had my voice. For some reason that was the turning point, and she willingly accepted bottle and food from the daycare provider from that moment on. Hope it works for you too. I don't know, I spontaneously came up with that idea back then - it's nothing I read anywhere - maybe I was just plain lucky.

From: Kathy

We had this exact issue when I went back to work at 3 months. My daughter had never had a bottle of anything or a pacifier (we had tried, she just wouldn't use it), just breast milk. After several unsuccessful attempts we did 2 things that eventually worked. 1) I left the house completely, not just the room and 2) NUK nipples for the bottle (I found mine at Rockridge Kids, they did not carry the right kind at Lucky's or Payless). I was skeptical of this advice initially but the type of nipple really does make a difference. A friend of mine actually had to go to a silicon vs. a rubber nipple to finally have success. There are probably a good 5 or 6 different kinds of nipples and babies may react different to each. We had unsuccessfully tried Platex, Advent and another angled kind of nipple (I can't remember the brand name) before having success with the NUK.

From: Diane

Have you tried switching nipples? My baby is now one year old and was on breast only for the first 3-3 1/2 month. I started to switch him to bottled breast milk (just like you) around 3 1/2 month because I was going back to work too at 4 months. I tried switching various nipples made by different companies, different textures, and different shapes. Most nipples are interchangable with the normal bottle except for the ones where you use a disposable liner inside the bottle. So I bought one or two of each nipple (and 2 of those wider bottles).

Also, I alternated between breast and bottle feeding. So if his first feeding of the day was breast, then the next one was going to be bottle. If he didn't eat much of it, I wouldn't give him the breast until it was time for the 3rd feeding. So, he may go through 6 hours without much food. But during this period, I would keep offering him the bottle. He ended up taking an ounce or two around half way to the third feeding. This way, I knew that even if he didn't eat enough of the bottle milk, he would still get enough nutrient from the next feeding. I must warn you, that last 3 hours where they're crying and fussing is difficult because it's so easy for us to just give in.

From: Heather

Have you tried using different kinds of nipples on the bottle? My son was/is VERY picky about the nipple on his bottle. He has always only wanted a certain brand of nipple and they have to be colored (he especially likes the red ones). I had to experiment with a lot of different brands, shapes and sizes to find the right one for him. Keep trying and I'm sure you'll find something that he'll like.

From: Pia

My son had a hard time accepting a bottle when I had to go back to work, although he was a little younger, 12 wks. It took two weeks for him to finally get used to drinking from the bottle (he would only take about 1 oz/day while I was away and he would cry almost the entire time). It was tough, but after those two weeks he must have realized what was happening and just started accepting the bottle. Things that may have helped was to hold him upright and facing forward while giving him a bottle, and to walk around while doing so (my husband had the best luck when the baby was in the front pack). Also he liked his bottles very warm.

The two weeks when he wasn't taking a bottle were hell, and I even asked the pediatrician about it. He said that some babies just don't want a bottle. He told me about another Dr. in the practice that had had a baby that refused a bottle entirely while her mother was at work, and made up for the lost milk when Mom was at home. That baby is now a perfectly healthy 10 month old.

Other friends have told that it takes one or two weeks for the baby to get used to it, and it is just one of those awful times that you have to get through. Hope this helps, and good luck!

From: Naomi

bottle tip- did anyone mention trying the Avent bottle? That was the only one my son liked around 4 months, and he took to that right away (after many tries with others). More like Mom, I guess.

From: Acarion

We had the same problem. We tried to feed our daughter at 3 months with a bottle. Nothing worked. We tried all the nipples - still nothing worked, so we gave up after one month. I belong to another group - it's an Australian mother group and got a tip from one of the Aussie mothers - she had her baby go straight to a sippy cup. My La Leche Group in New Jersey also suggested this. My daughter learned to use the sippy cup just after a few tries. Maybe this will work for your 4 month old.

From: Angela

I need advice about introducing the bottle so my baby can drink breastmilk once I go back to work. I read the advice above but it hasn't been too helpful so far.

I have got 10 different kinds of nipples by now, Avent and Nuk and straight ones, in various sized and flow-rates, silicon and rubber, and absolute nothing works. My daughter hasn't even taken one sip from any of them. It doesn't matter if she's hungry or not quite yet. I've just had her go without food for 7 hours today, which means not only her screaming with hunger, but also me pumping milk constantly, because you can't keep milk for too long once the baby has had the nipple in her mouth contaminating it with the bacteria from her mouth (at least that's what they taught me in the hospital - is this true?).

My husband has tried unsuccessfully, too, with various kinds of nipples, and I can't expect him to fight this struggle for weeks to come while he is working full-time, so how can I possibly leave the house for the hours that we try bottle-feeding?

We even got one of these soft spouts for training cups, but any milk that goes into my daughter's mouth from this or any bottle she pushes out wuth her tongue, so it all ends up on her clothes, while she keeps screaming.

I'm just at the end of my energy, we're not making any progress, and I find myself in tears every day. Are there any child care givers out there whom you can hire for a short time just to get this problem sorted out. Maybe someone can recommend an experienced person. Or are there any magic tricks that I don't know about?

From: Andrea

You are not alone. I too welcome any suggestions on feeding my 4.5 month old daughter who so far has completely refused all bottles, pacifiers, etc. and I am scheduled to go back to work in early September.

From: Jeanne

This is regarding your problem trying to get your baby to drink from a bottle. My husband got our baby to drink from a bottle after a few failures and much distress on my part. Here are some tips. I'm sure you have heard of many of them, but I hope one of them is new and will help:

1- You should be completely out of the building when Daddy is trying to get the baby to take the bottle. Baby can smell Mommy a mile away, and sense Mommy waiting and worrying in the other room, when a bottle is pushed into their face. I lurked around the corner and worried and worried instead of just leaving while my husband worked with our baby.

2- Get a Granny-type or a person who has a lot of experience with babies. Some people who have worked a lot with babies seem to have a special kind of patience and firmness with them and know how to get things done.

3- I know you want the baby to drink breast-milk, not formula, and it is great that you can pump. But in order to get the baby to drink from the bottle, have you considered getting a small can of soy formula? The smell of the breast-milk in the bottle might be just reminding your baby that you aren't there. Where's Mommy? What's this rubber thing in my mouth? She might be willing to take formula instead. Then you could mix in breast-milk in higher and higher concentrations until baby is getting only breast-milk. I reiterate, breast is best, but it may be worth a try.

From: Fran

Regarding getting breast-fed babies to take a bottle: this advice is too late for the person writing, but it should be repeated for the benefit of others to come as this isn't the first time it's come up in this group: Our pediatrician said that a baby should be given a bottle by the age of 6 weeks or he/she may never take one. I've seen his observation to be true with the babies of friends.

From: Juliann

Hi, This is a response to Angela, who is having a problem introducing a bottle to her baby.

Angela, I had a similar problem with my now 16-month-old daughter. We waited until she was 11 weeks old, which was outside the window recommended by the baby books we had. She took the bottle the first time we tried, but would have nothing to do with it after that. I tried various nipples/bottle systems and ended up using Avent on the recommendation of a friend (although I think the others would have worked eventually).

What finally worked was this: I would nurse her and she would fall asleep still suckling a little; when she fell off my breast, I would slip the bottle in her mouth. I think this allowed her to get used to the nipple while she was very relaxed. I did this for about a day, every chance I got, and after that she started drinking from the bottle. Also, I think it's VERY important to remain calm and detached (which is not easy with a screaming, hungry baby in your arms) and to have an I don't care if she drinks this or not attitude. My husband would get tense and impatient, and she would refuse it, but if I took her and talked to her softly and tried not to attach any importance to the event, she would drink.

One other thing: once she starts drinking from a bottle, give her one maybe once a day for practice. Good luck!

PS: While I was holding my daughter, speaking softly to her, and trying to remain detached, we were standing in front of the refrigerator in our kitchen. This might have helped because (1) I almost never nursed her in the kitchen and (2) the fridge is covered with photos, magnets, and newspaper clippings, giving her something interesting to look at/be distracted by. Hope this helps!

From: Cecilia

Our daughter also would not take a bottle. We tried all the nipples, etc. The only thing that did work, although it was time-consuming, was to get one of those little syringes with the curved tip, put it on your finger held pad up, and very gently squeeze the syringe as she sucks on your finger. Of course, *I* couldn't do this, because as long as I was in the room she would scream for the breast. But my husband or the babysitter was able to do it.

As for the problem with wasting milk in the bottle, we soon learned that each time we tried a new nipple, we only put about 1 ounce of milk in the bottle, so that when she refused it we didn't lose a whole lot of milk!

If nothing works, and your baby will only take the breast (it's a fairly common problem, apparently!) I also know other mothers who were able to work out flexible schedules with their employers, such as coming home for a long coffee break in the morning and afternoon to nurse, and taking a shorter lunch or staying later in the evening to make up the hours. Another woman I know found a daycare very near her job, and was able to run over during morning and afternoon breaks and at lunch to nurse her baby. After a couple of months, she only needed to stop by at lunchtime. Pretty soon the baby will be eating solids and you can get by with nursing only in the morning, evening, and at night. It happens sooner than you expect! Best of luck!

From: Dawn

What a horrible experience for you to go through! It's hard enough leaving your child without having to endure all this screaming, too. Have you tried using a syringe? My doctor gave me one that is quite large, and has a blunt end. You can then stick it in the baby's mouth and squirt the milk into the throat actively. I didn't see this listed as something you'd already tried. Good luck!

From: Caroline

For practical help on how to transition a fussy baby from breast to bottle, try seeking the help of a lactation consultant. There is a wonderful one here in El Cerrito named Janaki Costello. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and has lots of experience and very reasonnable consultation fees. She can be reached at 510-525-1155.

From: Raissa

When my first son had some similar difficulty it seemed to me that he was frustrated with the bottle because he wasn't getting as much milk as fast as he was used to getting it from my breast. We also tried a bunch of different nipples and ended up adding a few small holes to the nipples he seemed least upset with, to make them more breast-like, and this solved his problem.

From: heather

I can sympathize with your issue regarding trying to give your breast fed baby a bottle. My daughter (who is now 9 months) also refused the bottle. We had a little success with the NUK nipple but she put up a huge fuss anyway. I had to return to work when she was six months. What ended up working for us is that by then she was eating cereal. My childcare provider would feed her cereal mixed with breast milk throughout the day. So, basically she was being spoonfed the breast milk. The cup was a little too much for her. When I picked her up after eight hours she would nurse happily. At seven (!) months she finally realized a bottle was okay and now drinks one a day (and it doesn't matter at all what nipple we use). Hang in there!

My sister, who is a labor and delivery nurse, and also does post partum home visitations says she is often able to get babies who won't take a bottle, to drink breastmilk by putting it in a medicine dose cup (the kind that come with children's liquid medicine) and feeding it to them that way. She says it works quite well with new borns.

My daughter went through something similar about a year ago, when she was 5 months. It was very nerve-wracking -- especially compounded with all the other stresses involved in returning to work, but it did eventually resolve itself. Here are the things that I found most helpful: -- trying different kinds of bottles. I had been operating on the assumption that she would prefer more breast-shaped bottles (or rather, bottles, marketed as breast-shaped); that turned out not to be the case. -- if it's feasible to have an experienced bottle-giver offer her the bottles, this worked well for me (like trying to give your cat a pill yourself, then watching a vet do it). Overall, I started out by trying to make bottle-feeding be as much like nursing as possible, and that wasn't necessarily what worked. Maybe it just reminded her of what she couldn't have. For a short period of time, she would take a bottle most easily if she was lying on her back on the floor -- talk about counterintuitive.

I agree with your pediatrician that if you keep trying, things will probably settle themselves. But you might think about being creative in what you try. Keep in mind, too, that while seven working days may feel like an eternity, it's really not a very long time to get used to a new routine. Just because your child hasn't adjusted yet doesn't mean that she won't. And until she does, best of luck getting through a very stressful time.

My son refused all types of bottles too, for the longest time. Although I was able to accomodate him, the trick that finally worked was to put him facing out in the Baby Bjorn then walk around holding the bottle up to his mouth while cupping his chin. I think I read about this in a La Leche League book. (We ended up stuffing a dish towel down the front of the Baby Bjorn to catch all the drips.) His father and I each did this routine twice a day with the same results. At first it was very dicey, and the baby baby would only take a tiny bit. We kept at it, offering the bottle at the same times every day. We timed our bottle offerings for just before we thought he'd be hungry. It took about two weeks before we were up to 3 or 4 ounces. It took about another week or so before we could sit down. Once we could sit down, we had to do so in a different room and in different type of chair from where he was breastfed, and he had to be facing out. While we were in the beginnings of this little program, we would do our best, but when he got upset, we'd stop, TRY not to have to feed him right away, then maybe try the bottle routine again before I fed him at the breat. We did breast milk exclusively, formula never was accepted. Also the flow rate of the bottle's nipple seemed important. We ended up using the Avent bottles and nipples, but the nipples were for the next age group up, i.e. they had more holes, two I think. I figured it had to do with the fact that the breast gives an easy flow of milk immediately, then requires more sucking work as the breast is emptied. The baby wants that immediate flow, and some of the nipples recommended for the youngest babies might be just too slow. This is tricky however, because you don't want the baby to to get TOO much and choke either. Best of luck.

I had a similar experience with my now 2-1/2 year old daughter. She had taken bottles at home before I returned to work. When she went to daycare, she initially took the bottles, but then stopped and would not drink for the entire day (8-6). Since she was about 5 months old by then, we started to introduce rice cereal diluted very thinly with breast milk. So the only liquid she took was by spoon. This lasted about 2-1/2 weeks, and then she finally decided to start drinking from the bottle. Our pediatrician also said to keep trying, and the care provider was very patient, consistently offering her bottles throughout the day. Finally, it worked. If your baby is having enough wet diapers (6-8 per day) and gaining weight, I would not worry. I know it is stressful, but she will probably decide to start drinking hopefully sooner rather than later. Good luck.

I went through much the same scenario with my daughter, and I can share my story and some of the advice I received. It ultimately worked out, but it was quite stressful. To be perfectly honest if i was to do this again I would beg borrow or steal money to stay home for the first year. When my daughter was 5 months old I started back to work and built up slowly from 2 four hour days to 2 eight hour days during the week & 2 six hour weekend days. During the week I would nurse her on my lunch break (I chose child care on the basis of proximity) but during the weekends she was at home (half hour from my work) so I couldn't really nurse her during my work time.

She never took a bottle until she was like 14 months old, although I wish she would have earlier. At first it was really tough on the care givers: she would be thirsty and cry and they didn't have what she wanted. The advice I got was to try different nipples, also different liquids, like breastmilk, and different kinds of formulas, and try to find a combination which is acceptable. Some kids think breastmilk in a bottle is a poor substitute for the breast and would rather drink something else (although we still have to pump or have huge sore breasts). I thought it was pretty unnatural for the baby to go all day without drinking, my lactation nurse assured me it would be okay (some babies of this age can sleep through the night without drinking anything) but you are trading one for the other. If you are continuing the nurse the baby full time except during the day, you'll have many night feedings. The upside is you'll probably be tired enough of meeting the demands of at least three people (your child, partner, and boss not to mention yourself) that you'll sleep through them.

I think really the course of action depends on your priority of continuing to nurse the baby. If you are planning on weaning soon anyway, I would be pushing the bottle good and hard. If you really want to nurse for a year or at least quite a few months more, I would persist with what you are doing. It seems inconceivable that your baby really won't drink every day, 5(?) days a week, but don't underestimate the stubborness of a 12 lb. little bundle. But if the child has capitulated this much, he or she will probably drink a regular bottle eventually. If (s)he doesn't, I would try to nurse during the day. My supervisor was surprisingly empathetic when I explained the situation.

As for what happened to me...My daughter was stubborn and just didn't drink during the day. She also didn't take to eating with any kind of consistency and so basically gained no weight (although she got way taller) in the second 6 months of her life. I started nursing her 2xs a day while I was working. On her first birthday she was in the 5th percentile and borderline anemic. After her first birthday, she started drinking Gerber yogurt drinks in a big way, eventually she would drink straight cows milk, even from a bottle. By 18 months she had caught back up and is now a normal sized brilliant 3 year old. I have no idea of course whether she wasn't gaining weight because she wouldn't drink a bottle, perhaps it was just how she was pre-programmed. It helped to have a doctor who just saw this as the normal variation in rate of weight gain, not to mention a wonderful supportive lactation nurse. My best advice is to consult with one of these people in addition to your doctor and La Leche League. I was a Kaiser Hayward patient and talked endlessly with Lori, one of the nurses there. Good luck, and I hope you continue to nurse. The nursing relationship can easily outlast all the problems of the early months and become a wonderful and smooth and easy.

To the mother of the 3+ month old refusing bottles: We had a very similar problem with our 4 month old when I went back to work. Our breastfed daughter refused bottles at daycare after no problems with them at home. By the second day, she wouldn't take them from anyone, anywhere, anyway. We also tried every nipple we could find. By the fourth day, our daycare provider suggested I might need to wean her. I decided I needed another daycare. I found a place closer to work so I could run over at lunch for a snack. The babysitter kept offering the bottle throughout the day, but didn't push too hard. By the end of the second week, she began to take the bottle.

I think there were a lot of things contributing to our daughter's refusal to take a bottle--her strong will, the first daycare's inexperience and anxiety about her not eating, our inexperience and anxiety about her not eating, difficulty adjusting to a radical change in her daily environment and routine, not enough bottle feeding in the first few months, nipples that were too difficult to suck.

When I was able to feed her midday, it took a lot of pressure off both of us. We were also lucky enough to find a babysitter who wasn't worried about her not eating and had enough experience to try different things until something worked. The two positions that worked best are having the baby sit in your lap, facing out, which gives her more control of the bottle, or sitting in the swing, with the bottle propped up in front of her. The nipple she liked best was the low flow silicon Nuk. Since all babies are different, I don't know if these specific ideas will work for you, but I hope it helps to know you're not the only one who's had this problem. Good luck!

My son also began refusing the bottle just as I was transitioning back to work. Everyone told me that his hunger would get the better of him and he would eventually give in, but it sounds like your little one is a tough one! My son finally accepted the bottle after 4-5 days where I was away for partial days. On my first full day, his papa wrapped the bottle in a flesh-colored t-shirt that I had worn (so it smelled like me), and he said he snuck it in from the side. After that it wasn't a problem. Good luck!

5 month old not taking bottle

Feb 2011

We've been trying for about 6 wks, and every day for the last 2 wks, to get our 5-month-old on the bottle. She wants nothing to do with it. I settled on ''the first years Breastflow'' bottle because it was the only one where she could control the flow, so she doesn't scream as much with that one as with others. Nonetheless, she hates it, mainly just chews the nipple, and it takes an hour to, drip-by-drip, get 2 oz in her. In that same timespan, I pump 5 oz, so I know she's not eating her fill. What on earth should we do? She's been coing in to work with me till now, and my mom is in now town, trying every day, then my husband will be with her for March, then daycare in April. Next week, I'm taking her on a trip and wasn't going to pump, but I don't know if that will interrupt the program. Also, she started solids about 2 weeks ago and has some fruit each afternoon and evening. Should we stop that till she's on the bottle? She also has a cold now, and is regressing with falling to sleep, wanting to suck for 40 mins before sleep. Help! thinks breast is best

Our wonderful boy ultimately refused the bottle, even after being happy with it occasionally in his early weeks. We didn't keep up with it on a regular basis, so when it came to daycare at 6 months, it was his provider who came up with a solution: serve his daytime milk with rice cereal. She always offered him some in a cup too (he might take 2 oz just by chewing on the nipple of a bottle), but he has always been happy to eat up a bunch of rice cereal (and eventually oatmeal) with his breastmilk. He's still taking it that way along with some in sippy cups and along with a normal solids diet, and he's 13 months now. Good luck! Emma

We had the exact same problem because we didn't start the bottle soon enough with our daughter. Lo and behold, I went back to work at 5 months and she was totally uninterested! (Next kid around I'm starting at 4 weeks with a bottle once a day!) Anyway, we were stressed out by this, but here's what we did:

Nanny tried everything to give daughter my breast milk during the day - sippy cup, regular cup, straw, breast milk mixed with rice cereal, etc. So she got some. She was also on some solids at the time, so it wasn't a huge big deal that she wasn't getting that much milk during the day. In addition, I nursed a lot in the morning and at night. Wish I could say she slept through the night, but alas, she did not, and it was actually a good thing for her milk consumption. We CIO'd at 10 months so she wouldn't do these nighttime milk runs, and by that time she was eating so many solids we weren't as worried.

I know, it's easier said than done not to stress out about this, but please try not to. She'll get enough. She'll drink when she's hungry/thirsty. Just don't load her up with anything bad like juice when she refuses to drink milk. Good luck! Alexandra

We had the same problem when our baby was 3 months old. He would scream and arch his back in anger when we offered him a bottle. I work from home so most of the time, I was able to breastfeed him. I have to work away from home once a week so he followed me, along with my mother for his meals! We tried many bottles but he never took a bottle. What ended up working was just giving him a small cup or a cup with a spouted lid (not a sippy cup). He was willing to drink his milk this way. He is now seven months old and pretty adept at using a cup. Good luck! Relieved mom

5.5 mo. baby who refuses bottle, cereal, and naps!

March 2005

HELP! I have been struggling to get my baby girl to take a bottle of pumped milk or formula. She shrieks when the bottle is near and we've tried all the suggestions and even let her go up to 7 hours of refusing it before I gave in and gave her the breast. I have to go back to work and have tried everything, even a medicine dropper! I posted once on this board a few months ago and tried all the suggestions but parents kindly emailed but nothing. How long will she go on like this? And, what if I want to wean? Please offer any advice. I am only going to work a few hours a day since she starves and cries all day while I'm gone. Another issue is that she won't fall asleep on her own but that is secondary to the milk issue. What happens at 6 months? She takes a few spoons of cereal but then cries for us to stop. I am so torn and feel so guilty when I leave and I know my baby is not eating. Please offer any advice! steph

My baby, now 5 months old, would not take a bottle until just a couple weeks ago. She still hasn't taken a full bottle, but she's taken a few sips here and there. I assume you've tried lots of nipples. Nuk has been the one that's worked finally for us. In addition, make sure your milk doesn't taste or smell sour (if so, you can scald it before storing it...or so I hear). My daughter definitely prefers freshly pumped milk. The advice that was helpful to us was to introduce the bottle as a toy; and give it to her with water and a pinch of sugar, when she's NOT hungry. We played with the bottle a little every day (i.e. pretending it was an airplane, etc); and carried it around with us from time to time. Soon she stopped crying at the site of it, and enjoyed playing with it. Now that we have started solids, when she's done eating we give her the bottle and she takes a few sips. Maybe its easier now that she has taken in food in other ways besides nursing? She seems to like putting anything in her mouth, every since she started solids. I also wonder if somehow us sort of giving up on the bottle issue took some of the pressure off because she started taking sips around the time we decided to ''just forget it'' because we were losing our minds. Our daughter also likes to drink milk right out of a cup (its messy but she definitely takes some of it in) and drink milk from a spoon. And have you tried using the Avent sippy cup with the white top? Good luck! anon