Without a doubt, one of the most challenging transitions as a breastfeeding mom (aside from weaning!) can be when you return to work and need to get your baby to feed from a bottle while you're away. You'll want to prepare in several ways, such as pumping and storing milk and introducing a bottle before you go back. But what happens if your baby just refuses to eat from it? Here are 10 tips to help your baby take and get used to a bottle:
1. Offer your baby a bottle by six weeks of age. If baby is breastfeeding well it is fine to introduce as early as three weeks. Attempting to feed with a bottle once a day or at least every other day will most likely make it easier for baby to adjust to going back and forth between bottle and breast when you return to work.
2. Repeat attempts. If baby becomes upset during a bottle attempt, give it a break and don't create a struggle. If possible, wait 30 minutes and try again.
3. Simulate. Let your baby suckle on a pacifier or on your finger for a few minutes. Once your baby is calmly sucking then withdraw and gently replace with the bottle.
4. Try a different nipple. If the nipple seems to be the basis of rejection, after a few days try using a different nipple on the bottle. Small brown latex nipples tend to be softer and more pliable -- mimicking a real nipple -- which may do the trick!
5. Check the temperature. Make sure the milk is slightly warm and that some breast milk is in the nipple tip when attempting to feed the baby.
6. Change the scenery. Try to offer the bottle when baby is in a bouncy seat/stroller or while you are walking around.
7. Use distraction. Distract your baby while offering him/her the bottle by putting a new toy in his hand.
8. Mind the timing. Calmly continue to offer a bottle when your baby is ready to eat, or even slightly before you think s/he is hungry. This way frustration and extreme hunger will not be as much of a factor of unsuccessful attempts. Also, it is best just to add 2 ounces (60ml) into the bottle so that if baby simply refuses you are not wasting much breast milk.
9. Give yourself a break. Have another person offer baby the bottle. This is good for baby's bonding with other caregivers too!
10. Hire a professional. Many baby nurses are trained to work with babies that refuse the bottle.
Try presenting the bottle daily to get your baby familiar with the routine. It's key not to give up -- your baby will not starve and when hungry enough, will most likely take it. Good luck and let me know if you have other questions!
Image credit: Sura Nualpradid via FreeDigitalPhotos.net