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Ask an Expert: Baby Refusing Bottle

***Ask an Expert is a blog feature hosted by a team of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). Once a month each IBCLC randomly chooses a question from The Badass Breastfeeder Facebook wall and provides their response on the blog.

By Ashley Treadwell, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“My darling daughter has gone from refusing the bottle to launching into hysterical crying when her Daddy attempts to feed her. It’s the only time he gets to feed her and is sorely missing his bonding time with her. It breaks my heart to see how sad it makes him when she screams whenever he tries to feed her, and whenever mommy leaves. Help!”

Hi Shannon,

You didn’t specify how old your daughter is, so some of this information may or may not be appropriate!  I know how frustrating it is when baby refuses a bottle – it’s so stressful for both mom and the caregiver trying to feed the baby.  Here are a few tips to try:

  • If your baby is old enough (5-ish months +) – try a straw sippy cup.  Sometimes the novelty of the new cup is exciting enough for baby that they’ll be happy to drink out of it.  You can teach a baby to drink out of a straw by using a regular straw you’d get with a fountain drink – draw a small amount of water up into the straw and close end with your finger, holding the water in.  Place the straw near the baby’s mouth, and when she opens up and sucks, move your finger to allow a small amount of water to flow through the straw.
  • Try a faster-flow nipple (if your baby is already breastfeeding well, over 3-months) – often the flow from mom’s breast is faster than a slow-flow nipple and babies grow frustrated!
  • Try leaving the house just after you’ve nursed baby, so she doesn’t associate the bottle with you leaving.  Get out of the house for more than a couple of hours – have lunch, see a movie, get a pedicure!  Leave a bottle for your husband and your cell-phone on (just in case) – if you’re gone for longer than a couple of hours, baby may be more likely to take a bottle.
  • And as with all things baby-related, know that things can change very quickly!

unnamedAshley Treadwell is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), blogger on the topic of breastfeeding, and advocate for judgmentfree breastfeeding support for all mothers. Ashley lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, Tim, their two girls, Jane and Evelyn, and their dog, Grace and cat, Abby. She loves running, everything related to cooking and feeding her family, spending time with family and friends, and bad reality television.