I have to go back to work and I’m having trouble getting baby to take a bottle. What can I do?
You’re not alone. Most breastfed babies refuse everything but the real deal at first. Be patient and know that with time (and hunger) your baby will eventually accept food from something other than the breast. There are a couple of things you can do to make it easier:
Find the right bottle nipple. There’s no one bottle nipple that’s “best” for all babies. You’ll have to experiment with a variety of them (slow-flow, fast-flow, wide base, narrow base, firm, flexible) to see which ones your baby will accept. Babies typically prefer the flow rate (slow, medium, fast) that matches their sucking skills. While flow that’s too slow can be frustrating for some babies, flow that’s too fast can make it difficult for your baby to breathe. So watch baby closely during bottle feedings to see which type she seems to be adjusting to more readily.
Bottle-feed the right way. This is actually more important than finding the right nipple: Hold your baby upright and pace the feeding by encouraging your baby to pause after a few sucks. Stop the feeding as soon as baby shows signs of fullness (yes, even if the bottle isn't empty). If baby still refuses a bottle after repeated attempts, consider trying a cup. Surprisingly, even very young babies can learn to drink from a cup!
More from The Bump:
Tips for Choosing the Right Bottle
Weaning and Breast Milk Supply
How Breastfeeding Changes as Baby Grows