5 Tricks to Get Your Baby to Bottle Feed

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There are few things as frustrating for a parent than trying to get your child to properly bottle feed.  This is especially true if your baby has been a solid breastfed baby for most of their life.  There are many different reasons why some babies just don’t seem to want to eat from a bottle.  The main reason is that the nipple of a bottle has a different mouth feel which can be a turn off for your baby.  There is help, however.  When you know the tricks to help keep your child latched, you are much more likely to have success when it comes to bottle feeding.  Here are 5 great tricks to get your baby to bottle feed successfully.

Why should you bottle feed?

While bottle feeding isn’t always necessary, it is a good tool to have in your parenting belt.  If you are on the fence about whether or not to start bottle feeding your baby, consider these advantages:

Some women cannot breastfeed

The number one reason why some parents have to bottle feed their baby is because simply they are unable to breastfeed their child.  There is no shame in admitting defeat when it comes to breastfeeding.  Bottle feeding is a perfectly reasonable option because, after all, your baby needs to eat.  Whether you cannot produce milk or cannot get your baby to latch onto your breast, it is good to know that you have options.

Great time for dad to bond

Some dads have that natural jealousy that comes with watching their partner breastfeed.  There is a magical connection that happens between mother and child during breastfeeding and it is only fair to give dads that same bonding time.  Not only does letting your child eat from a bottle allow dad to connect with their child, it also gives the mother a break.  Dads can take care of those pesky midnight feedings while mom can catch up on some much needed sleep.

Transition so sippy cups

Letting your baby bottle feed is a great way to get them to learn how to self feed.  Many bottles are specially designed with a natural curve which allows your child to easily grasp the bottle.  This is great for when the time comes to wean your child off the nipple on onto a sippy cup.  Most babies are ready for sippy cups after the age of one and parents who primarily breastfeed their babies have a harder time making this transition.

Perfect for working parents

Working parents finally have an alternative option when it comes to feeding their child.  There is more freedom to live your life when you choose to bottle feed your child.  Transitioning to a bottle makes going back to work a whole lot easier. 

Great for travel

There isn’t always going to be a place where you feel completely comfortable breastfeeding.  This isn’t your fault, some place just are not as breastfeeding friendly as they should be.  So when you are traveling with your child, bottle feeding might be the easiest solution for you.  Not only does this make the trip go a little faster, but it also allows you to stop and enjoy your vacation a little bit more.

It should also be said that bottle feeding does not mean that you have to stop breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding has so many benefits for your child, so it is important to keep trying if you are able to.  Bottle feeding is just another option when it comes to supplement.  This also doesn’t mean that bottle feeding means giving your child formula either.  Many women who bottle feed choose to do so with breast milk that they have pumped.  Also, many parents choose to do a combination of bottle feeding and breastfeeding.  There is no wrong way to parent, so do what works best for you and your family.

Find the right bottle

One of the best tricks to get your baby to bottle feed is finding the right bottle for your little one.  This all depends on what your child needs.  It is also good to know that bottles can be personalized to fit your child’s eating habits.  From perfectly sized nipples to vented bottles, you are sure to find the bottle that is perfect for your baby.

One of the most important things to remember when trying to find the perfect bottle is whether or not your child has digestive problems.  If your child suffers from problems like colic and acid reflux, you should try to find a bottle that helps this.  Anti-colic bottles are a great option because they work to push painful air bubbles away from the nipple so that your child’s tummy can settle easily.  There are many different styles of vented bottles out there and sometimes getting your baby to bottle feed like a champ comes down to finding the right one.

You should also make sure that you are selecting a bottle with the right nipple size.  It should also be said that most bottles have replaceable nipples.  This means that you don’t have to stick with just one size nipple.  Nipple size generally depends on your child’s age.   You wouldn’t want to give a newborn a bottle with a nipple that is meant for an older child.   The milk flow will be too fast for little tummies to handle.

If you are trying to get your child to bottle feed in hopes of getting them to self feed, consider the shape of the bottle you need.  Angled bottles are perfect for self feeders because the shape is perfect for a natural flow of milk.  You should also consider using a bottle with an hourglass shape.  These bottles are a lot easier for little hands to grasp onto because of the smaller middle shape.  You can even find bottles that have a silicone non-slip sleeve. 

Ask for help

One of the most frustrating things about trying to get your little one to bottle feed is trying to get your child to latch onto a bottle during late night feedings.  This isn’t fun, especially for parents who are already sleep deprived.  Asking for guidance is always something you should feel comfortable doing.  There is no shame in admitting that you need help.  Reach out to a trusted friend who has been where you have been and see if they have any tricks to get your baby to bottle feed.

You can also consult with your child’s pediatrician if you are still having trouble getting your child to bottle feed.  You always want to make sure that your little one is getting the proper nutrients that they need to grow up strong and healthy so seeking medical advice is a good thing.  Sometimes the problem isn’t as easy as needing to switch the type of bottle nipple you are using.  A doctor should help you be able to pin point what is going wrong in the transition from breast to bottle.  Also, they might be able to recommend other forms of bottle distraction like sugar water on the nipple.  If you are having problems producing enough milk if you are pumping, consult with a lactation specialist to see if there is anything they would strongly encourage you to do.

Lastly, the best part about bottle feeding is that you finally get to take a break.  This is especially true for breastfeeding only mothers.  So seize this opportunity and let someone else try to take a swing at the bottle feeding thing for you.  When you are able to relax and clear your mind you are much better able to attend to your child with a fresh outlook.

It should also be said that sometimes babies are not taking to a bottle because you are in the room.  Why would they want to drink from a bottle when they have the real thing right in front of them?  They don’t want the middle man!  So with you leaving the room the baby can see that there is no other option for getting fed at that moment and might be more willing to latch onto the second best thing.

Switch back and fourth

If you are breastfeeding your child but are interested in starting the road to bottle feeding, consider switching on and off.  Just remember to take it slow.  Babies are sensitive beings and they may not react well to a forceful switch.  Keep a record of what your breastfeeding routine is and see if there is any room in there for a little bit of bottle supplementing.  For example, continue to breastfeed your child four times throughout the day but switch two or three of their smaller feedings to bottle feedings.  This is one of the best tricks to get your baby to bottle feed if you are looking to only supplement with a bottle.  Eventually your child will catch on so when bottle time comes they can latch on like a champ.

If you are planning on continuing to breastfeed but also want to supplement with formula, don’t make the switch too drastic for your child.  While sometimes it cannot be helped, if you are able try to hold off formula for the first week or so that you are trying to bottle train your child.  This is because no matter how hard it tried to compare, formula just does not taste the same and your child is sure to notice the difference.  Breast milk is much sweeter and if your child has had nothing but breast milk their whole young life, they might not be so keen to this new change right away.

Start off slow when introducing formula, if this is what you are planning to do.  When first switching to bottles, keep feeding your child breast milk.  After a week you can start doing a combination of both.  Bottles with half formula and half breast milk are a great way to start to introduce that formula taste to your little one.  Over time you will be able to give your child full bottles of formula in between breastfeeding.  This also makes the transition from breast milk to formula easier for parents who want to wean their child off of breast milk all together.  Just note that if you are not breastfeeding or using a breast pump as much as you used to than your milk supply might deplete. 

Spoon feed your child

One of the tricks to get your baby to bottle feed that many parents use is the spoon trick.  This helps little ones to use their mouths in a way they never thought of.  This forces your child to use more a slurping technique when it comes to drinking so that they might be able to latch on the bottle much easier next time you offer it to them.  Another trick is to use a medicine dropper.  Medicine droppers are much slimmer than bottle nipples are so your child will have to work extra hard on their suckling to latch.  This will make bottles seem like a dream to them so when you are ready to give them a bottle they should latch on like a champ.

You can do this by either putting a little bit of breast milk on a small spoon or in the dropper and slow let your child find their way to it.  If these little tricks are failing you, consider changing the flavor of the bottle nipples.  While sugar water is sometimes looked down on as a solution, it has been proven to work.  This doesn’t mean that you need to load your baby up with sugar to eat; just a little change of taste may be all they need.  Simple mix the tiniest bit of sugar in with some warm water and slowly dip the bottle nipple into the mixture.  The new taste sensation can stimulate your child’s taste buds and get them to latch on to a bottle much easier.

Take your time

One of the most important tricks to get your baby to bottle feed is to remember that it isn’t a race.  Unless you are under super tight time restrictions for whatever reason, there is no need to rush into bottle feeding.  So take it slow and take your time.  Let your child lead the way, they will show you what they need.  Follow their cues, if they are simply not taking to a bottle and are too cranky to even try, let them have the breast.  Sometimes the problem is that they are simply just not ready for this step.  If your child has been only breastfed their whole young life, they just might not be emotionally ready for this big switch.

It is also important to follow your own lead when it comes to bottle feeding.  If you feel that sometimes is not working for you and your child, don’t do it.  You ultimately have the power and control to parent your child the way you see fit.  When you are stressing out and getting upset, your child will catch on and that might make them even more anxious.  So, stay calm and try again another day.  It is important to remember not to lose your sanity.  Trust me; this challenge will seem like a dream once your child is older and getting into more trouble.

It is also important to remember that not every piece of advice you get will work for you.  This is especially true when it comes to the mom chatter you will get while out in the public.  People love to insert their options and advice even when you didn’t ask for it, so you need to learn how to drown out the white noise.  Getting your baby to bottle feed will be full of judgment from other parents, but just be assured that you are doing your best when it comes to your own child.  Don’t be afraid to try new things.  Maybe you will come up your own great tricks to get your baby to bottle feed that you can pass onto your friends when their time comes.  When it comes to getting your child to bottle feed, trial and error is the way to go.  So, don’t rush it.

Final Thoughts

The best tricks to get your baby to bottle feed are the ones that offer you support while also helping you and your child reach your ultimate goal.  Just remember to stay calm and stay vigilant and if things just are not working out the way you have hoped, take a break and try again later down the road.  Babies do not come with manuals and there is no golden rule saying that you have to bottle feed your child by a certain or even bottle feed them at all.  But, it is also important to give you a break but not to give up.  If you want it to be, it will be.  Good luck and take care.

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