Who could have thought that the small bundle of joys could be so picky about their source of nourishment! However, many new parents can experience stress trying to figure out how to get their baby to take a bottle if the baby is exclusively breastfed. Bottle and artificial nipple cannot be compared to a mother's breast at all, even if the bottle is given in by someone caressing the baby with all the love. That's because babies are not used to being fed with bottles and artificial nipples on them. But it can ruin the mother's peace who has to return to her job, and it is also a nightmare for the caregiver who will take care of the baby in the mother's absence.
However, you don't have to fret as there are multiple tricks that you can try to bottle train your baby.
1. The Right Time To Introduce BottleFeed
Pediatricians suggest not introducing bottlefeed to your newborn baby until she is four weeks old. Young babies tend to get more confused about nipples, and if they start taking bottlefeed, they may completely deny breastfeeding.
However, it is best to introduce a baby bottle two weeks before you resume your job and work responsibilities.
2. Skin-to-Skin Contact
During breastfeeding, a baby feels secure snuggling to the mother's chest. There is a lot more skin-to-skin contact during that time. A baby associates feeding time to the mother's touch and strongly opposes any other substitute. So, start giving the bottle while maintaining the same position and skin-to-skin contact.
3. Let the Caregiver Bottlefeed the Baby
Some babies are very particular about who cares for them, including their feeding preferences. The babies often get confused and fussy about why you are not offering to breastfeed and giving them a bottle instead. In that case, let someone else take over to bottlefeed the baby while you go out of sight. With time, the baby will start accepting the bottle from the caregiver and not associate feeding time with only you.
4. Warm the Milk
The milk temperature also plays a role, and babies may refuse to bottlefeed if the temperature is too cold than the babies are used to. You can warm the baby milk to the right temperature and try again. However, don't overheat the milk. Test it on your wrist before giving it to the baby. There are also some baby milk warmers available that can keep the milk at a constant temperature 24/7. You won't have to worry about warming milk or testing the temperature on the wrist. (hyperlink on baby milk warmers)
5. Give the Bottle at the Right Time
Sometimes it makes sense to try and give your baby a bottle when they are starving. Since the baby is too hungry, you may think the baby will accept the bottle immediately. But you are wrong! Learning bottle feeding takes time and patience, and when babies are too hungry, they would be edgy and refuse the bottle and cry on top of their lungs. So, give them the bottle when they are hungry but not starving. Alternatively, offer the bottle to them when they are well-rested, so they explore the bottle's nipple in their mouth and get used to its feeling. You can also dip the nipple in breastmilk to give them a similar taste, so they accept the bottle right away.
6. Give Them a Breastfeeding-Like Bottle
If your baby is not accepting the bottle feed, try to give him the bottle with a nipple that resembles breast shape and size. However, the bottle doesn't need to be expensive. Any bottle with the right shape would do. A nipple with a broader base gradually shifting to a long shape is better. Don't buy a short, flat nipple as the baby can latch on the long nipple deeply just as she latches to the breast.
7. Breastflow Bottle
Sometimes a baby cannot handle the fast flow of milk from the nipple. So, try a nipple with a slow flow that matches breastmilk flow. It also outweighs the baby's chances of choking due to bottle-feeding, which happens when the milk is coming faster than the baby can swallow.
And if the bottle flow is too slow, it will agitate the baby, making her work harder. So, you need to check and maintain the bottle flow according to the baby's preference.
8. Quiet Atmosphere
The baby may get distracted in a noisy environment and stop suckling the bottle feed. So, the caregiver should go to a quiet place and offer the bottle with no disruptions from anyone. The caregiver can also take a stroll or sway with gentle movements, and when the baby is relaxed, try giving her the bottle.
9. Try Different Positions
Try holding the baby in a different position. If the baby is not taking the bottle in a close, breastfeeding position, try an upright, almost sitting position with support from the caregiver. You can put the baby in an infant seat or feed her in your lap.
10. Encourage the Baby to Open the Mouth Herself
Don't forcefully insert the bottle into the baby's mouth. Take the bottle near the baby and tickle her to open the mouth wide enough and take the nipple on her own. Make sure that she latches on the nipple profoundly and not just the tip of the nipple as she would do during breastfeeding.
It takes time for the baby to become habitual to bottlefeed. So even if the baby resists the bottle at first, don't lose heart. Just keep trying again, and your baby will soon learn to take the bottle. However, if all attempts of bottle-feeding fail, you can proceed with the cup or spoon feeding if it is indispensable.