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    Home ›› What to do when your baby is refusing a bottle

    Home ›› What to do when your baby is refusing a bottle

    What to do when your baby is refusing a bottle


    Reading time: 7 mins

    In an ideal world, your little one’s switch from breast to bottle would be as smooth as a baby’s bottom. But if your breastfed baby is refusing a bottle, or your baby squirms and cries when bottle feeding, don’t worry. This isn’t uncommon for babies who are used to breastfeeding, but it can understandably lead to a bit of frustration for mums – especially when a return-to-work date is just on the horizon.


    So, what happens when your baby refuses the bottle and cries? There are many ways you can ease the transition from breast to bottle. Here’s the essential information on how to bottle feed a breastfed baby, and what to do when your baby won’t bottle feed.

    Baby refusing the bottle? Take a step back.


    If your baby is fussy during bottle feeding, squirming and crying and generally upset, the first thing to do is check your approach. Use the following steps to try and stop your baby crying when bottle feeding1:


    • Tilt your baby’s head. Just before you introduce the bottle, make sure that your baby’s head is tilted above his or her body to help avoid any choking, spitting up or overfeeding.
    • Introduce the bottle nipple. Be gentle. Rather than pushing it into his or her mouth, gently slide it in.
    • Keep the bottle at an angle. Tilt the bottle at an angle that fills the nipple only halfway. This will allow your baby to drink at his or her own pace.
    • Burp your baby during and after feedings. In addition to burping after feedings, it may be helpful to burp your newborn about halfway through. This could help relieve any gassiness or belly discomfort your baby may be feeling from swallowing too much air.
    • Throw it away. When your baby starts turning his or her head away from the bottle, it means that he or she is full, and the feeding session is over.


    If your breastfed baby won’t take a bottle, try different positions. Learn how to bottle feed your baby the right way – including popular positions for holding your little one while feeding.

    Other ideas if your baby won’t bottle feed


    If you’re following the above steps and your little one still refuses a bottle, try not to get frustrated. There are many other ways to help if your baby refuses a bottle. Here are a few tips that you can try adding to your bottle-feeding routine2.

    1. Remind your baby of mummy


    There will be times when someone else is feeding your baby, whether it be your partner or your child’s caretaker. If your baby is fussy during bottle feeding by someone else, it may help to wrap the bottle in something that smells like you, such as a piece of clothing or cloth.

    2. Enjoy more skin-to-skin contact


    Some breastfed babies won’t take a bottle because they prefer skin-to-skin contact. Try letting your baby feed in just a nappy and in their favourite breastfeeding position. If your baby is refusing a bottle, experiment with different approaches to see if one helps more than the other.

    3. Move around during feedings


    Sometimes, all that’s needed to get your baby to take a bottle is a little gentle swaying, rocking or walking. The next time your baby squirms and cries during bottle feedings, try moving rhythmically to help calm them.

    4. Try different nipple and milk temperatures


    Experiment with different nipple and milk temperatures if your baby is refusing the bottle. Try putting the nipple in the fridge to cool it down or run warm water over it. As your breast milk is lukewarm, the same bottle temperature is ideal for some babies. Others may prefer it room temperature or colder.

    Choosing the right bottle for your baby


    If your baby is crying when bottle feeding, choosing the right bottle can make switching from breast to bottle feeding much smoother. There are three must-haves when it comes to baby bottles:


    1. Anti-colic valve built into the nipple
    2. Easy to hold
    3. BPA free.


    If your breastfed baby won’t take a bottle, it could be that you haven’t found the right one. You could consider this natural baby bottle – its wide, ultra-soft nipples resemble the breast to help make bottle feeding a more natural experience for you and your baby.


    If your baby is fussy during bottle feeding, it may be helpful to try to relieve any gassiness or reflux that he or she may be experiencing. Our anti-colic bottle that has a unique AirFree vent to help reduce colic, gas and reflux. By keeping the nipple full of milk, the bottle’s designed to help your baby swallow less air as they feed.

    What you need

    ‘My baby refuses to breastfeed but will take a bottle’ – help!


    Sometimes, a breastfed baby becomes accustomed to bottle feeding and begins refusing milk from the breast. If your baby was refusing a bottle, but is now refusing to breastfeed, try not to be upset. We understand this can be a bit frustrating for mums who wish to combine the two, but there are options you can try.


    A nipple protector could help if you wish to both breastfeed and bottle feed your baby3. Our ultra-thin, silicon nipple protectors help you breastfeed longer, more naturally, and more comfortably.


    Remember, if you do want to combine breast and bottle feeding, it’s recommended that you wait three to four weeks before introducing the bottle.

    Your baby refusing a bottle is natural – so be patient


    Rest assured that it’s quite normal for your baby to take some time when adjusting from breast to bottle. If you’re returning to work, give yourself plenty of it to establish a good bottle-feeding routine before you go back.


    Remember that every baby is different. With a little time and patience, you will discover what works best for you when your baby is refusing a bottle. Only you know your infant’s unique needs, but if your baby won’t bottle feed after you’ve tried these steps, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.

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