Refusing the Bottle at 0-2 Months

Parent Q&A

  • Our son is now 6 weeks old. We introduced the bottle at about 3 weeks, and he had zero problems for the first 3-4 days. Then, like some kind of light switch, he stopped taking it altogether and is still resisting it now. 

    Any advice on what we can do? Thanks.

    Hi, what worked for us was using a medicine dropper (the biggest one we could find at the pharmacy) and just squirting the milk (gently!) into our baby's mouth. Soon she figured out how to suck on the medicine dropper. We did that for a couple of days until she learned that she could get food from something other than me, and then she was fine with the bottle. I think it helped that we had her grandma do it - someone besides me or her dad. Good luck! I know this is stressful, I wish you the best.

    Same thing happened to our son! He started fussing at the bottle after initially taking it without a problem. We just kept trying, offering a bottle a day. He was more likely to take it from me than my husband, but he gradually got better about that. Weirdly, it helped a lot when my husband and I switched shirts one day -- I put on his, and he put on mine. My husband held the baby in his lap while I held the bottle. After that, it got easier and easier. By the time I went back to work (around 4 months), he took bottles all the time without an issue. 

    I think for us, it had less to do with the bottle itself and more to do with the fact that he just went through a super fussy period from weeks 5-10 or so. But it got better! 

    Hi there - I had this problem with my son. He actually never took a bottle for the first 4 months of his life until he went to daycare. I tried it all. Every different bottle, different nipples with different flow rates, different temps for the milk, having another caregiver feed him, leaving for almost an entire day, etc etc. We also hired a lactation consultant with experience in this (Serena Meyer) who was somewhat helpful. I worried about this quite a bit until the day I went back to work and of course at daycare he had no problem and has had no problems since. At the time I had plenty of people tell me not to worry, that he would get it eventually, and it didn't really help me at the time, but now on the other side of it I wish I hadn't worried so much! Give the above recommendations a try or take a break and try again in a few weeks if you are in a position to do so. Good luck!

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Questions


6-week-old won't take a bottle

Feb 2004

We are trying to start our 6 week old, breasfeeding baby on the bottle as I will be going back to work soon. Have tried numerous different nipples with no luck. Have tried the Avent, Gerber and Nuk. any suggestions or ideas? Thanks! Rikki


Make sure you are far away when your child is given a bottle. JB


Our breastfeeding daughter refused a bottle for months, although we tried almost every day, in every way, with every different nipple, from about 3 weeks old on. The first time I left her with my partner for an entire day (to attend a wedding out of town), she was 5.5 months old and had only taken a bottle once (Playtex nipple). She refused to eat for about 7 hours, then finally got hungry enough and took the bottle. She's now in daycare and happily eating from the Playtex nipple. She will not drink from any other type of nipple, and she will not take a bottle from me (bio mom). It helped a lot when I got the faster flow nipples, but she was a lot older than your baby by then. Good luck! I think she will take the bottle when she gets hungry enough; until then, it's just anxiety-provoking! noel


Many, many, new parents have been in the exact same position, I think the only answer is to just keep trying, keeping in mind that eventually your baby WILL take it. (Also once he/she takes it give them a bottle at least 2x a week for a while -even if it is just to start the feed), or amnesia can set in and you have to start the whole learning process over. Been There


Keep trying! You really need to try EVERY day. Try putting baby in bouncy seat with one of the Baby Einstein's playing on TV--the visual will distract baby while you reach around from behind and put bottle in baby's mouth. This worked for our baby (though, only for a few weeks--maybe you'll have better luck). Also, Dr. Brown's bottles have a good nipple--it's more pliable than Avent and was easier for our baby to get into her mouth. If these suggestions don't work, you may have to leave the house while your husband or other caregiver tries the bottle, as some babies refuse the bottle while mom is around. I feel your pain, as our 5 month old daughter will take a bottle only sporadically (fortunately, I am home with her)--I think our mistake was letting her nurse exclusively from 4 to 8 weeks. Anyway, I think you are at a critical point with respect to your baby's age, in addition to the obvious--you going back to work. So keep trying every day. Good luck!! Tracy


Breastfed 6-week-old suddenly refuses bottle

May 2003

My daughter is 6 weeks old, and was taking a bottle on a daily basis without a problem. Suddenly, she's decided not to take it. She starts to latch onto it, sometime drinking a little, and then starts fussing and crying. We've been unsuccessful in our attempts to try it at different times of day, with different people, the bait and switch, etc. I'm wondering if anyone has any successful experience to share. Should I give it a break for a while? Should we keep trying daily? Should we be persistent, and let her cry through it? I'm becoming very concerned that this will be a big problem when I have to go back to work in four weeks. Thanks for any help! Laura laura


Does she need a faster-flowing nipple? My son was exclusively bottle fed, and he would start acting frustrated with the bottle when he was ready for the next stage nipple. Catherine


This happened to us when our daughter was 9 weeks old. I searched the archives and found a lot, but nothing helped, and neither did Sears & Sears long list about how to bottle feed a breast fed baby.

We tried to understand WHY and WHY NOW. A dozen theories, but we could never really figure out what it was. That my partner had tried the bottle at night once so that I get some more sleep? that the milk had been too cold once? or not fresh enough? or the baby feeling she was to be forced to stay with relatives who were visiting? the wrong bottle nipples? Etc.

A few times we were lucky with fingerfeeding (very slow, but could delay a nursing) and spoonfeeding. But not really, she started to resist that as well.

We didn't want to let her cry, but actually ended up doing exactly what you do not want to do if you believe in conditioning ''good habits'' in babies We kept trying a couple of times, listened to her protest for a while, and then we gave in. We let her breaking our will, not the other way round. Our daughter was a very easy and happy newborn (and still is now, at age 11 months). The only one really important thing to her was nursing. We felt that it would be unfair of us to be so insisting about the bottle. This precious baby has only this one desire, we really should let her have it is what we felt. And if we communicated to her that she is allowed to have her own will, that's good. (Every child will figure that out eventually.)

We felt relieved after we made the decision to stop trying the bottle. It had added an enourmous amount of stress to our lives.

Someone recommended not to try anymore for 3 weeks. Then we would have a differnt baby. I didn't really believe it. We didn't try anymore for 5 weeks.

Your going back to work must be a very scary thought for you. Maybe you can make a worst case scenario. Taking baby to your work maybe with a babysitter, or babysitter hanging out very close to where you work, cell phones, working from home - to name a few things.

If smokers can leave their workplace every hour for 10 minutes, than nursing mothers can do so for 20 minutes every other hour. Don't feel bad about expecting others to make a few compromises. You are currently following the schedule of a newborn 24 hours a day. Others can also make a few compromises. Another point is that breastfed babies get sick far less often than bottlefed babies, and that is certainly in the interest of an employer. (If a 3 months old has an ear infection the mother is probably going to stay home no matter what.) Look at your work situation closely. Things often can be stretched here and there. It's probably only going to be a problem for a very short time after all.

My work situation was very flexible, and I am grateful for that. But I also had to take my daughter to some meetings and workshops (she stayed with a babysitter close by) where I wouldn't have dreamt to take a baby along before I had a baby myself.

After 5 weeks we tried again and it worked. She didn't really like it, but she took it. My partner gave her the bottle during a walk in the sling. He started giving it to her while she was still half asleep, in the process of waking up and crying for milk. Now she didn't care which nipple. Nuk, Avent - whatever.

Around 6 months she started to really like and explore solids, and it got very easy from there.

We still minimized the number of bottle feedings not to make her upset again. Then it became easier and easier. Especially when she got interested in touching and manipulating objects. The bottle became something like a toy for her. However, she would always prefer the breast, especially when she is tired. Good luck, Julia


The exact same thing (refusing a bottle of breastmilk) happened with my son around the same age. He also had been taking a pacifier and began refusing it then,too. We didn't care about the binkie, but we did want him to be bottle friendly for when I returned to work. Since I wasn't returning until he was 6 months old, we figured we would give the bottle a rest and try again in a few weeks. BIG mistake. By then he totally refused.

When he was around four months old we got advice that we needed to be persistent and try a bottle every single day, to give it at the same time of day (when he was a little hungry but not to wait until he was starving nor wait until he was really tired), and to not get sidetracked trying every type of bottle and nipple under the sun (we stuck with the Nuk orthodontic silicone model). We also were to try feeding him the bottle in different ways and places in the lap, in the bouncy chair, while walking him in a bjorn, etc. Also I'm sure you've heard that it might be easier for the non-lactating parent to be the bottle giver as baby knows Mommy has the good stuff on her.

My son refused the bottle every day for 4 weeks, then would randomly take a little milk one out of 5 times, and now finally is taking the bottle again, about 8 weeks from when we started getting serious about reintroducing it. For some reason giving him the bottle outside in the park worked for him. Go figure.

He is now seven and 1/2 months old. I had originally planned to return to work for two full and one half day a week, but with his bottle refusal I changed my schedule to five days a week, mornings only. My situation was easier because by the time I returned to work he was six months old and taking solid food, so he would take expressed milk mixed with rice cereal on a spoon. Even though he finally started taking the bottle this week, I plan to keep the four hour shifts as I think it will be easier for him to have me consistently gone a short time every day instead of either home all day or gone all day.

My advice is be persistent in trying every day, be consistent about the time of day you try, don't force it when the baby gets upset, see if you can get your baby to take a binkie ( to keep baby used to sucking on rubber nipples)and with an older baby to let the baby play with their bottle like a toy. Chances are she'll eventually get back on track if she's only been refusing a short time. But there are some very stubborn babies who will not return to the bottle and if your child ends up being one of then I would explore working only half days out of the house until Baby is able to eat from a spoon if this at all an option.

Good luck getting Baby back on the bottle; I know how stressful it is returning to work, and how the stress is compounded when you are worried your baby isn't eating. Susanna


Hi. I know everyone has different experience with getting babies to take a bottle, but I wanted to pass mine along. My baby also took a bottle for a while and then started refusing the bottle. We kept trying for a while -- my husband would give him a bottle downstairs while I hid (or slept) upstairs, and my son would scream for 20 minutes and take almost nothing. We finally gave up. But, the good news is, we never had a problem with him taking a bottle when I was gone. (How he knew whether I was upstairs or gone I have no idea). He never took a lot from the bottle, but he always took enough and he never threw a huge fit like he did when we gave him the bottle while I was around.

So, I don't know what to tell you about whether or not to keep trying. Before you go back to work, you might want to leave him alone with grandparents or dad and a bottle and see what he does when you are out of the house. Also, we always fed my son pumped breast milk; formula tastes different, so you might try breast milk first, then mix formula and breast milk and then transition to formula (if that's what you're planning on feeding your baby). Plus, once he starts solids (usually between 4-6 months) he may eat solids and not as much milk when you're away. Good luck! Laura


Our son did the same thing at about six weeks. It turned out that he was ready for a faster flow on the nipple. Once we moved up to the next stage he started taking the bottle again just fine. I am not sure what type of bottles you are using but Avent worked the best for us. Good luck! anon


7-week-old won't take a bottle

June 2004

I've been trying to get my 7-week-old son to start taking a bottle. He has been breast fed exclusively since birth. I will be returning to work at the end of August and I want him to be comfortable with it by then. Also, it would be nice to be able to leave him for a little bit without worrying that he'll be hungry.

He takes a pacifier (Nuk) and we bought the same kind of nipple for the bottle. But when my husband tries to give him the bottle, my son just ends up crying. He does get a few drops of milk but does not seem motivated to start sucking to get more.

Any suggestions? Some people have said ''He'll take it if he's hungry enough.'' But that seems so traumatic to me. I'm hoping there's a better way.

Thanks. rcl


Hello there -- we had the same problem when I went back to work part-time at three months. What finally worked for us was ''bottle boot camp'' which was a lot of work, but involved me pumping during the day (even on the days I was home) and offering only the bottle (of breastmilk) during daytime hours. We continued breastfeeding at night. Our son began to associate bottles with daytime and breast with evening/night time. The trick is to be consistent. It was a real drag-- we basically stopped nursing during the day, which I missed tremendously. It also involved quite a bit of crying in the beginning, until he figured out the routine, but at least preserved nursing at night. Oh yes, one trick you might try (if you can picture it) is offering the bottle while bouncing up and down sitting on an exercise ball (one of those yoga balls). I'm not kidding-- somehow it distracted our baby enough to start him sucking! Good luck. Mom who has been there


We started feeding our son with a bottle at 3 weeks, and made a point of making sure he got one bottle a day so he wouldn't be too surprised when I went back to work. So far, at 3 months he's had no problem with either breast or bottle. However, during the ''training'' time he did flat out refuse to take a bottle one time and we were pretty freaked out. He was crying like crazy. So, we put the bottle aside. I did NOT breast feed him. He stopped crying after a few minutes, then we tried the bottle again in an hour and he sucked down the whole thing. I didn't even have to leave the house. I'm guessing he really wasn't that hungry at first and was irritated about having a nipple shoved in his mouth. So, maybe next time your baby refuses a bottle just try being patient and let him get hungry enough. I wouldn't wait all day long, maybe just an hour before trying again. Spikesmom


8-week-old will not take the bottle - been trying since week 4

Dec 2003

Our eight week old baby will not take the bottle. We've been trying since week four with no luck. We probably did not try consistently enough and I was not always out of the house as recommended but any ideas for success at this time? Robin


My husband also had tremendous struggles with our now 27 month old daughter and the bottle at the age of 6-8 weeks. We started with the Advent system which she refused. The thing that worked for us was to try different bottles and nipples and she finally accepted the Playtex drop ins. anon


My daughter would not take a bottle until she needed to -- that is, when she was six months old and I went to work full time and she got hungry while we were apart. Babies are pretty clever and will not let themselves starve. LC


Some tips you might try for your infant who refuses the bottle--

1. Have someone besides mom give the bottle, and have mom out of sight.

2. Try heating milk on the warmer side--some babies like this. Also, try freshly pumped breastmilk (are you offering frozen? it might taste different).

3. Try giving the bottle while bouncing on one of those exercise balls, this seems to distract them and they start sucking automatically.

4. Bait and switch--- have mom breastfeed, then when baby is in a rhythm slip nipple out and bottle in, chances are baby will just keep sucking.

5. Try holding baby facing away from you and bouncing him up and down, with bottle in mouth. This again sometimes distracts them enough to start sucking.

6. Try various nipples-- they come in different sizes/shapes (silicone has less of a taste and our baby prefers it to latex)

I went back to work part-time at 10 wks and my husband had to ''bottle-train'' baby the hard way while I was gone -- even though we had given our baby a bottle a day since week three, he always preferred the breast (and still does now at 4 months). My husbands approach: he would try for ten minutes (crying), take a ten minute break, try again for ten minutes(crying), and so on. Eventually some milk would get in the baby.... Also, once you make progress, stick with it. Make sure baby takes at least a bottle (or two is even better) a day even on the days mom is home, so he/she doesn't forget.

Good luck. anon


We had the same experience with our baby. We tried the bottle almost every day for about a month with absolutely no success. She never sucked on the nipple, and when she did, she'd just let the milk run out of her mouth. We stopped trying so often, and bought every type of nipple we could find. She finally agreed to take the Playtex latex nipple, but not until she was about 12 weeks old. We tried everything: feeding her when she was hungry, feeding her when she wasn't hungry, me (breastfeeding mom) leaving the house, feeding her in our arms, feeding her in the swing, etc. She finally took the bottle from her other mom when I was out, but sometimes will only take it from me. We still ''practice'' because I'm going back to work soon. We are most successful if we try when she's not ravenous because sometimes she gets really ! mad when presented with the bottle. She is now 5 months and still struggles. She wants to chew on the nipple rather than suck, so we are going to try a faster flowing nipple. But she still will drink only from the Playtex and still refuses Avent, Gerber and Nuk nipples. Good luck! noel


My mom started watching my breastfed daughter on when she was 6 weeks old. My child would not take the bottle either. What finally worked was for the baby to lay in a bouncy seat on a table and to have my mother sit behind her. My mom would hold the bottle in front of my daughter, and all the baby would see is a hand and a bottle. My daughter would get very mad if she saw someone other than me feeding her, but she didn't seem to mind just an arm! I do think you need to leave the home, and when the baby gets hungry enough, she'll be more motivated to try. Good luck! Been there


I experienced the same problem with my son, who is now 9 months old. I, too, tried to give him a bottle at 8 weeks, which led to resistance from him and a lot of crying. What I finally did and what finally worked, was that I would make sure that he was fairly hungry, begin breastfeeding him, then after a few minutes, take him off the breast and put the bottle in his mouth. The bottle was filled with breast milk. For the first minute, he would take the bottle, no problem. Then he'd wise up and reject it. I'd then do the breast-bottled switch a few more times. I would do this everyday at the same time. Gradually, he would take more and more of the bottle, until he consistently would take a whole feeding from the bottle. Of course, once he did this, I made sure to give him ! one bottle a day from then on. I'd say that it took about a month of doing this before he would take a full feeding from anybody at any time without any problem.

One important thing is to be patient. I found that it was worse for my son if I forced him to take the bottle, or if I kept trying to give it to him when he obviously didn't want it. I tried once to withhold a feeding, thinking that if he got really hungry, he'd take the bottle. This approach, however, did not work, as all it got me was a lot of stress and crying from him. In my opinion, what worked was offering hiim the bottle everyday at the same time when he was hungry, but not starving, and if he fussed or was clearly not interested, I'd put the bottle away, breast feed, and try it again the next day. I believe that babies sense your mood, so if you act like it's no big deal, it won't be a big deal to them, either. Good luck, and remember, it may take some time for your baby to take a bottle, but it can be done. new mom


I have the same problem (began trying at 2 1/2 months old, although she took bottle at 1 week old no prob)) and she's still not taking the bottle at 10 months. So, don't know if I'm in a good position to give advice, but this is what I heard might work: use a latex nipple protector to get baby used to the feel of latex bottle nipple (from Children's Hospital's excellent advice line). Try to mimic your nipple shape with different bottle nipples, have others try feeding the baby, or face him/her away from you. Keep at it because the longer you wait, the harder it gets. We're just skipping the bottle and going to a sippee cup but she's now using breastfeeding as a pacifier (big mistake!). She has the added complication of having GERD, or acid reflux. You might want to rule out any other reason such as this. Hope this helps and good luck! g_i


Trying to get my 11-week-old to take a bottle

Jan 2008

I will be returning to work soon and I am trying to get my 11 week old to start taking a bottle. I have tried different bottles (Avent, Dr. Brown's, evenflow), pumped breast milk, formula, feeding her when she is very hungry, feeding her when she is sleepy, etc etc but my baby just starts crying when she's offered the bottle. Does anyone know a supernanny or someone with experience getting a baby to take a bottle to help out? I really don't want to starve her until she takes a bottle (advice I was given)-too traumatizing for her and for me! Chloe


I have heard that some babies simply will not take a bottle from the mother. I luckily do not have first-hand experience with this, but my sister-in-law said she couldn't be in the room when her son was being bottle fed, and, in fact, couldn't be in the HOUSE. Her son knew she had the real stuff and would sniff her out. So this is probably your problem. If someone else can give the bottle, this would probably help you out right now - and I'm assuming that's what would be happening anyway when you return to work. Also, some babies that have never been given a bottle don't want one 11 weeks down the road (many recommend trying to add a bottle into the routine at 3 weeks). But that doesn't help you much. I bet other parents with first-hand experience might have better advice than I do. Good luck. --You've got the real stuff and baby knows it


You are not alone. We had trouble getting our daughter to take any bottle. We tried EVERY one. She finally took the NUK bottle with the slanted nipple (have to be careful to put this one in the right way though). She just couldn't get a latch on any other one. It took her over a month but I am a SAHM so the need wasn't as great. I just needed a break so we kept trying with the bottle. Different people fed her, which was very important as she was very mommy centric, and we did it at the same feedings so she always knew what to expect. I had to train my husband though who would give up really easily. You just have to persevere. My mom would walk around with my daughter to calm her while she cried and tried to take the bottle. It would work for at least a few ounces which was better than nothing. When they are ready and it doesn't feel so foreign they will take the bottle.

My niece also had the same problem. They just get so attached to the breast and mommy it's a big step. My niece had to start taking the bottle at 6 months old as my sister had to go back to work. My mom watches my niece and the first week was hell. My niece would only drink a few ounces and wait till my sister got back. After the first week though my niece got it. She now is a VERY healthy eater. During that first week we got her to eat the most in the car. My niece would get tired and I would shove the bottle in. She would watch things go by, suck on the bottle and fall asleep. Again the distraction really helped her get use to the bottle so she could then get use to someone else feeding her.

Just hang in there. Your little one will work it out. Alexis


The way I get my son to use his bottle when he doesn't want to is I let him suck on me for a little while and then when he's good and going (eyes closed helps) then I pop out my nipple and replace it with the bottle nipple in one quick motion... This usually works as soon as he tastes the breast milk coming out... Or I have also squirted the breast milk from the bottle nipple into his mouth to give him a little taste and he usually latches on after that... hopefully this is useful to you! stefanie


My third was the worst about taking a bottle. With my other two persistence worked, but not this one. I finally tried giving her the milk HOT (seemed too hot to me, but what do I know) and it worked! I heard about trying different temps on BPN but it took true desperation to make me give it a try and it worked like a charm. Maybe it will for you too...plus it's cheap! Hot Milk


Breastfed 11-week-old spits out the bottle and cries

Dec 2004

Following the advice of every doctor and baby book out there, I have exclusively breastfed my baby from the day he was born. He is now 11 weeks old and I want him to start taking the bottle so that I can return to work. I've tried a number of times but each time, he spits out the bottle nipple and cries when I try to put it back into his mouth. It is still filled with breastmilk so I don't think it's a taste issue. I've tried both Medela and Dr. Brown bottles without success. Is there a trick to getting him to feed from a bottle? Help!


Hi: My son is 4 months old, we started him on the bottle after he was 3 weeks old(w/ breast milk only). The nipple that worked for him was the Playtex easy latch. But still, the only that he will take the bottle from is my husband and the baby sitter. It is very strefful because there are nights I want to sleep, but he will not take the bottle from my husband if I am in the house!! It is amazing how smart they are. Good Luck


Have you tasted your milk? it must taste sweet and fresh. mine was going bad (metallic soapy taste) so fast due to lipase that my daughter wouldn't take the bottle. when i realized this was the problem i began briefly heating my milk in the mw until tiny bubbles form at the surface (la leche league directions), then I could store it in the fridge or freeze it. my daughter then happily took the bottle

[Editor note: see Gross tasting frozen breastmilk


Bottle for breastfed 11-week-old

March 2004

My partner has started pumping so we can start our 11 week old daughter taking a bottle in preparation for her going back to work. The first time she took the bottle like a champ at about 8 weeks, but ever since then she has been pretty resistant to it. She at best just does nothing when I put the nipple in her mouth and more likely cries and cries. We have tried many things and are looking for suggestions. The only thing that has worked once was when my pertner slipped the bottle in after she had been breastfeeding a few minutes. Thanks


We didn't have a problem with either of our two young sons and sadly I think it was because we started them on a bottle (by necessity and against all ''professional'' advice) at only a couple of days old. We had no problems with nipple confusion. But since you can't turn back time I can tell you what else we do. We use the nipples with the wide base since these more closely match the shape of the breast. At first my husband fed the bottles and so the babies didn't smell or see me and so the breast was not an option. We would feed them from the bottle when they were hungry but not desperately hungry. I think that if your method of feeding from the breast and then switching to the bottle is working to help your daughter make the transition then do it and slowly give her less and less time on the breast before switching her to the bottle. Good Luck. Suzie


11-week-old refusing to take bottle of expressed milk

Jan 2005

Hi My 11 week old girl refuses to take a bottle of expressed milk. I have been trying to get her to take the bottle since 6 weeks and we're actually regressing instead of making progress! I've tried Avent bottles, Dr. Brown's, Playtex original nurser, Nuk, and really small Gerber nipples. She would take the milk from Dr. Brown's if I gave it to her asleep but that doesn't even work anymore. We've tried heating up the nipple, having my husband, mom, neighbor, give her the bottle, we've tried when she's hungry, when she's not hungry, and NOTHING is working. I have to go back to work in 4 weeks and am really stressing out about this. Any other ideas???? I'm open to trying anything! Thanks so much, I keep kicking myself thinking I should have tried the bottle on her earlier! Stephanie


It is very common for breast fed babies to refuse a bottle. There are other options besides a bottle that you can consider. Even an infant can be fed from a small cup, an eye dropper, a spoon, a syringe, etc. These other methods will also be less likely to cause nipple confusion like a bottle or pacifier would. If you would like more help consider attending a LLL meeting or calling a Leader. Good Luck! Melissa


Our baby was reluctant to take a bottle. When I tasted the milk I realized why. It tasted horrible! It was soapy, metallic, and rancid tasting- not merely sour. It turned out that I was producing too much of the enzyme lipase and the lipase was digesting the milk and turning it bad within a few hours of pumping even if it was refrigerated or frozen right away. If this turns out to be the case, you can deactivate the lipase by scalding the milk right after pumping- either by heating it in a saucepan until tiny bubbles form at the edge of the pan, or in an Avent bottle warmer on the high setting for about 20 minutes. For some reason the Avent model doesn't have an automatic shutoff mechanism and you can heat the milk to about 175 degrees. This is really handy if you need to pump at work or somewhere where you don't have access to a stove. Sandra


this is a tough one, we faced it as well. we got advice to try a sippy cup or a dropper, neither of which worked for us but worked for others we know. our only success was in trying over and over again, in different areas of teh house and in different situations (the bouncy seat ended up being the ticket). i know it sounds awful, but if she gets hungry enough, she will take a bottle. it just happened to us again last week when she didn't nurse all day because of too many distractions and i had to leave for a few hours...she got hungry while i was gone and took four ounces from my husband out of the bottle, a minor miracle in our house. hang in there, she will sort it out. anon


We had this same problem last year when our daughter was 8 weeks old - my husband had to feed her with a medicine dropper to get her to drink her milk... finally after about a week and a half, she got the hang of the bottle, once he noticed that she was sucking the milk from the dropper. I hope that helps! Good luck!!!!!! Heather


I recently read a lot of postings from about a month ago (about Nov 2004) about how hard it can often be to get 3 and 4 month old breastfed babies to drink from bottles. It didn't even seem to matter whether or not the babies had been given bottles earlier or not (i.e., there were many stories about babies who had had happily had several bottles or more a week still rejected it at about 3 or 4 months!). I, too, was panicking and reading the current and archived advice in November because my usually very happy 3.5 to 4 month old, who had earlier taken bottles about once a week, rejected the bottle with wild cries. Now my son is 6 months old and taking a bottle easily, without even much effort on my part. My so-called ''tactic'' involved simply waiting until he was 5 months old. At this age, he became intensely interested in objects in the world around him, and he could grab on to the bottle himself (with a caregiver still holding the bottle up for him). It seems that his curiousity got the better of him and at 5 months he could deal with the bottle while at 3 and 4 months he wanted nothing to do with it. Of course, I am extremely lucky in that my work schedule was very flexible and I could take him (and my au pair) to work with me during the 4 to 6 weeks that I had to wait. We tried the bottle again the week before I had to be in San Francisco for a meeting every day for a week, and he seemed to be ready and interested in it. So, there's lots of good advice in November newletters and on the archive and things to try and not to try. I just wanted to add my experience to all the varied stories that I didn't do anything at all but manage to wait another month. And to add that you shouldn't guilt- trip yourself for not practicing the bottle thing earlier; it's possible that it *might* not have made a difference for what's going on for you right now. been there and survived


You didn't mention if this is your first baby or not, so what I am suggesting could be difficult or very difficult, depending on your comfort level. My 2nd born would NOT take a bottle. PERIOD. So when it was time for me to go back to work, I called my pediatrician (Dr. Philip Rush) and asked what I should do. His response was that if/when she was hungry ENOUGH, she would take the bottle -- otherwise, she would wait until I got home. Sure enough, I kept pumping at work, and she would wait -- sometimes 6 hours or so, until I got home. She finally got the idea, but it was a long time. She took from a Playtex sippy cup (the kind with the valve) after a while, but never took any type of bottle. It was stressful for me at first, but I finally realized that the Dr. was right -- she didn't starve. In fact, she sure appreciated when I got home! It helped that my mom was the one with her, because it was stressful for me. Good luck! Trish


For my daughter, the trick was making sure she was already calm and reasonably contented each time we gave her a bottle. That is, she had to be rested, not too hungry, warm enough, etc. If she was already even a little upset, she would reject the bottle. After several weeks she would take the bottle under almost any circumstances. Anon.


we had some nursing problems with our second child and were tauaght a number of things which might possibly be helpful to someone in your situation: to get the baby used to getting breast milk from a source other than a breast, we first tried using a small tube taped onto a finger (not ''mommy's finger'') through which milk could be expressed.

this got the baby used to getting milk from a different source, and he was already comfortable sucking on a finger. we moved from there to bottled breast milk without too much trouble. in our case, because our baby had some physical problems, we used a nipple that had a faster flow than might otherwise have been used for a child his age. this doesn't sound necessary for you. if you want to try the tube-on-finger route, most lactation consultants, and many dulas, can help you get started. the tube and bag can also be affixed to the caregivers body in such a way that a nursing position can be achieved for the baby, but that may backfire. as a previous poster said, it's good for the baby to know ''mommy=nursing, everybody else= bottle (or tube)'' t. adams


My second child also refused to take a bottle as an infant. This caused me a lot of anxiety as the time approached for me to return to work. Like you, I tried many different strategies -- leaving the room while my husband gave the bottle, trying different nipples, putting juice on the nipple. Nothing worked. Except hunger. After I went back to work, my baby boy just had the nanny and the bottle. No bottle, no food. He wasn't dumb -- babies get pretty hungry and he figured out pretty quickly that the bottle was the only way to go. It was not the way I'd wanted it, but it was the hand I was dealt and my son is now very happy and healthy. By the way, he preferred me to the bottle right up until about 9 months of age, when he suddenly self-weaned. Ann


2-month-old now refuses the bottle

October 2001

Does anyone have any advice on how to convince a breastfed baby to accept bottles? We are at our whits end. Our normally happy and easy-going 2 month old baby has recently started to completely refuse the bottle (she accepted bottles easily her first month). She is breastfed, but I'd like her to take a bottle during the 4-5 hours that I need to be away at work.

She started refusing bottles when we went on vacation and didn't keep up with the bottles. It's my pumped breastmilk, so it's not a formula problem. I'm afraid we probably made the situation worse by trying to continue giving her the bottle when she was crying. Now she starts crying at the sight of the bottle approaching. Different people have tried (even grandma), we've tried different nipples (gerber's, avent, playtex, rubber, silicone, fast flow, slow flow, preemie). We've tried a medicine dropper and even Medela's Hazelbaker FingerFeeder (a supplementer that allows you to feed baby from your finger). In every case, as soon as she figures out that it's not a breast (a second or so), she starts refusing. She won't even suck on a finger as a substitute. We're not forcing her anymore, just offering it to her, but she will cry and cry for 2 hours (that's as long as we've dared to go). I've even tried leaving the house when my husband is trying, but still no dice.

I've been told that some babies just won't take bottles, but she used to before. It just pains me so much to hear her crying and crying when she could just take a bottle. I'm not as freaked out about it as I used to be, since I realize that she won't starve, but eventually she'll need to go to daycare, at least part-time, so I'm really concerned. I'd really appreciate hearing if anyone has had similar experiences. Is it hopeless, or have you had any success? Thanks for your help! Marguerite


I stumbled on a solution to this with my first, when she was adamantly refusing the bottle at two months. While bathing her, I just picked up a nipple (no bottle), put a little warm water in it, and put it near her mouth. She sucked it, so I repeated it with water, then put a little milk in it (still, just the nipple, not the bottle). I can't remember if I introduced the bottle then, or at a later bath. After that, she took the bottle--although she still always prefered nursing and didn't like me to give her a bottle. However, she'd take it from someone else easily after that. I think the key was that we were both relaxed and happy at the time, and the situation wasn't loaded...it just occured to me to try this while she was in her bath. Good luck. meghan


I'm in the process of introducing my 6wk old baby to the bottle as well. She was having a little tough time. But the only advice I can give that I did was just let her fuss and be patient. I was very persistant. She's going to be hungry at some point and will want to eat. I tried talking to her too, so that she would know that it was mommy's milk. I know its hard to hear them cry and this is my second child so its not as hard. Crying is good for their lungs anyway. I try and give her a bottle as much as possible too, so that she will get used to it. Don't let the baby take control over you. You have to lay down the guidelines and rules for them. Nia


Our son _never_ took a bottle with a nipple -- and like you, we tried everything! Finally, when he was about 6 months old, we got the sippy-cup spout attachments for our Avent bottles, and those worked very well for us -- we'd tip a little breastmilk into his mouth and he would happily swallow it. It was kind of a high-maintenance feeding method, but it did enable me to leave him with a sitter for the first time ever! If I have the same problem with my next child, I'll probably try this solution a little bit earlier. Sara


My daughter also refused to take the bottle (at around 4 mos), after having no difficulty when she was very small. We tried just about everything, as it seems you have. The only thing that really worked was letting her go hungry for a long period of time. I left the house for twelve hours. She didn't eat until the 10th. I would recommend that you find someone other than dad.. like grandma, or auntie, or a good friend with kids who will not take it personally when your child screams at them all day for not having boobs. Your baby knows how, survival instinct will eventually kick in. Some babies only want the real thing and will wait a long time to get it.

It will also get easier in a few months when your baby starts to eat some rice cereal and other starter foods. It certainly doesn't satisfy them in the same way, but at least if you're getting some solids in, you don't feel quite so bad when they bottle strike. Good luck!


My oldest child had exactly the situation you describe- at first she took the bottle willingly, and when we didn't follow up for a few weeks she began to refuse. I, too, needed to return to work and we were panicked. We received all sorts of advice; one friend told us that he got his child to take it by putting strawberry Quik in the bottle; another said he went down in the basement with the baby and bottle and didn't come up until he succeeded. We did neither of those. My amazingly patient husband just hung in there and offered her the bottle in a quiet, gentle way, with lots of encouragement, and calming strokes (through all her screams). He did it in the morning, when she was hungry but not cranky, and I left the house. He did this several days in a row. Finally, after one 45-minute session she finally took the bottle, and we were careful to follow up every day after that with at least one bottle a day. After the battle was over she took the bottle willingly. Good luck! Lauren


I had this experience with my son who refused to take a bottle when he was about seven weeks old after accepting the bottle when he was younger. We tried all types of nipples and bottles to no avail. We had the best luck with a sippy cup, but it was difficult to really establish the habit when he four-five months old. However, when he was about six months old he bonded with the sippy cup and now readily uses it to take medicine, vitamins or breast milk when I am not around. We've been told that now he won't have to wean from a bottle and a breast. Good luck. tiara


My daughter also cried at the sight of the bottle. When she was six months old and I went back to work, however, breastfeeding was not an option during the day and she took the bottle from her father with no fuss at all. After a month or so she didn't want to breastfeed. Now she is 16 months old and drinks from the bottle at bedtime and drinks from a tippy cup during the day.


(1) Check your breast milk. Make sure it hasn't soured. I learned that mine didn't store for long (high amounts of lipase) which made the baby sad.

(2) Make your bottle routine really different than the breast feeding routine. For our baby, that meant I (mom) couldn't even be in the house. Her daddy found that putting her in the sling and walking around with her worked the best (and it was really different than our nursing routines of rocking in the chair or lying in the bed).

(3) Go to a La Leche League meeting and talk to experienced breastfeeding moms or call a La Leche League leader. They are a great resource. Ilana


We had exactly the same experience with our now 18-month-old boy. My husband introduced the bottle at 4 weeks old and we gave him a bottle once a week from there, but that only lasted a few weeks. He started to refuse, and it soon became quite traumatic for everyone. By the way, he also never wanted a pacifier and never exhibited much of a sucking tendency at all (except nursing, which he did quite well). I needed to return to work and put him in daycare starting at 4 months. We tried everything, paid a consultant, tried every bottle, every nipple/flow, every position, every caregiver, everything! Like your baby, he soon screamed at the sight of a bottle, it had become so traumatic. This became VERY stressful for me as the target date for returning to work approached. I was so tired of reciting all the details, and it seemed that everyone had advice on what we must be doing incorrectly.

The first thing that worked for me is that I declared I wanted to give up trying - accept he would never take a bottle - and a huge weight was lifted. We shifted our energy from trying to change him, to trying to find another alternative that worked. The problem is that all the advice - in books, from friends, family, professionals - convinces you that there must be SOME WAY to make your baby take the bottle, instead of giving you options other than the bottle. We did find a way - quickly - as soon as we put our minds to it. First, I work close to his daycare, so I went there to feed him at lunch for the first few months. I don't know if this is a possibility for you, but if there is any way you can make it work, it is worth the effort. I came to love our mid-day visits, and it helped smooth the transition to daycare. Second, a consultant pointed out to us that he would be on a sippy cup in a few months anyway, and the beauty of a sippy cup is that the milk pours into their mouth - they do not have to actively suck - and they have no choice but to swallow. The product that saved us was Avent's soft rubber sippy-cup-shaped nipple that fits on its regular bottles. In the beginning, we gave him just a few sips, putting it in, pulling it out right away, and then I breastfed him. He was held upright in our lap, or sometimes in the car seat. He had some trouble, but soon got the hang of it. He by no means had it mastered by the time he went to daycare, but our center was very patient and his desire for milk won out. The combination of lunchtime visits and the slow learning curve (never pushing) of the Avent sippy worked for us. At 18 months, he still uses the Avent sippy (we use it for milk only) and can hold it himself and handle the fast flow - so it is like he takes a bottle after all.

I am sure you have heard that some babies do not have milk during the day and make up for it at night by breastfeeding more. While not ideal, I think it is preferable to shrug your shoulders and say, we'll make it work, rather than beating yourself up over the bottle thing.

In restrospect (and this is too late for either of us, but I do tell my pregnant friends this, and I know it is controversial), I would have allowed a bottle to be introduced in the hospital, and I would have given him a bottle more often than once a week. But in the end, like all things baby, they find their own way and, together, you make it work. Good luck. Jennifer


My baby took breastmilk from a bottle from around age six weeks to four months, then totally refused. I went back to work when she was five months and at first she would not take a bottle at daycare either, but it worked out. First, the infant room teachers at our daycare center (Child Education Center) had been through it before, and knew what they were doing. They coaxed her with different bottles that they had on hand and eventually found a type she would take. Second, although I had planned to go back full-time, I was fortunate to be fairly flexible at first. I didn't leave her there all day until she started taking the bottle; I called after a couple of hours and if she wasn't eating, I picked her up. I only had to do this for a week or so. That gave the teachers time to work their magic and, I think, gave my daughter time to figure out without trauma that in this new place, with these new people, there was only one way to eat. She continued to refuse bottles at home for a long time. So my advice is not to stress out about the bottle now. Your baby may not take it at home from her familiar people, but given a patient and experienced daycare provider and a little time, she will learn what she needs to do in her new situation. At 20 months my daughter loves both daycare and bottles. Teresa


We have a 5-mo-old who has had a LOT of problems with the bottle. We started at 6 weeks and have struggled endlessly, until about recently. Our story sounds like yours -- we tried a lot of different nipples, different people, etc. Here are some things that have worked for us, based on information you DIDN'T mention:

- change of location -- our baby did a lot better with the bottle when he was in an unfamiliar environment. We tried feeding him outdoors, at friends' homes, and in rooms where he wasn't breastfed.

- don't let it escalate -- this was advice we got from our ped's office and it helped us. Once he started crying a lot, we just stopped, because we didn't want it to become a war of wills and have him associate the bottle with being really upset.

- change of position -- one position that worked well for us was NOT holding him, just putting him on the floor and letting him suck the bottle.

- take a break -- I think we just gave up for about a week or so, then reintroduced the bottle. He actually kind of forgot how much he hated it.

- time of day -- we discovered that the one time he would take a bottle, almost consistently without protest, was at bedtime, right before going to sleep (he would tank up to get ready for bed, so he was always hungrier). So we started adding a bottle at bedtime, and this seems to have made giving bottles during the day easier.

Good luck! Teresa and Sam