How to Help your Breastfed Baby Accept Bottles like a Champ

Apr 10, 2024

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to nourish your baby, but there might come a time when you need to introduce a bottle into your baby's feeding routine. Whether it's for a return to work, a date night, or any other reason, helping your breastfed baby transition from breast to bottle can be a challenge. It requires patience, persistence, and the right strategies to make the process smooth and stress-free for both you and your little one.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the art of helping breastfed babies accept a bottle. We'll explore the reasons behind bottle aversion, provide you with practical tips, and guide you through the transition process. Remember, every baby is unique, so what works for one may not work for another. Be patient, trust the process, and find the techniques that suit your baby's preferences.

Understanding Bottle Aversion

Before delving into the strategies to help your breastfed baby accept a bottle, let's take a moment to understand why some babies develop bottle aversion. Bottle aversion is when a breastfed baby resists or refuses a bottle, despite being willing to breastfeed. This can be frustrating for parents and caregivers, but it's essential to recognize that it's a common issue.

Several reasons can contribute to bottle aversion:

  1. Flow Difference: Babies are used to the flow of milk from the breast (slower), which can differ from the flow of milk from a bottle nipple (much faster). Some babies may become frustrated or even overwhelmed by the flow of the milk from a bottle as they have lesser control over it as compared to the breast.

  2. Texture and Taste: Breast milk has a unique texture and taste, and some babies might initially reject the different taste and feel of milk from a bottle.

  3. Comfort and Security: Breastfeeding isn't just about nourishment; it provides comfort and security for babies. When presented with a bottle, babies may miss the close physical contact they have with their breastfeeding parent.

  4. Mom's Presence: Babies associate feeding with the presence of their breastfeeding parent. When mom is nearby during a bottle feeding attempt, they might resist the bottle in favor of the breast.

Now that we've explored some of the reasons behind bottle aversion let's move on to the practical tips and strategies you can use to help your breastfed baby accept a bottle.

Tips to help your breastfed baby accept a bottle

  1. Team Effort: Involve Other Caregivers
    • Sometimes, the presence of the breastfeeding mother can create a strong association with nursing. To break this link, ask other caregivers, like your partner or a family member, to introduce the bottle while you are in another room or out of the house. This shift in dynamics can make it easier for your baby to accept the bottle from someone else.
  2. Choose the Right Nipple and Bottle
    • Choose a bottle with a longer nipple with a gradual slope that promotes a deeper latch (like Dr Brown's, Lansinoh and Pigeon) instead of a shallow "hanger" shaped nipple with an abruptly wide base (like Philips Avent or Comotomo)
    • When selecting a bottle nipple, opt for a slow flow or newborn flow nipple. These nipples closely mimic the natural flow of milk from the breast. The familiar flow can ease your baby's transition to the bottle and reduce confusion.
  3. Embrace Paced Feeding

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    • Paced feeding is a technique that replicates the breastfeeding experience. Hold the bottle horizontally, allowing your baby to suck and swallow at their own pace. Take breaks during the feed, just as you would during breastfeeding. Holding your baby in a more upright position can further mimic the breastfeeding posture.
  4. Vary Feeding Positions

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    • Breastfeeding typically involves close physical contact between you and your baby. To introduce variety, try holding your baby in positions different from breastfeeding.
    • You can experiment with facing your baby in the side lying inclined position (pictured above) or sitting upright but facing outwards to distract them.
    • You can even try placing them in a reclined infant seat or high chair. These changes in positioning can reduce the association between breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
  5. Offer Freshly Expressed Breast Milk
    • Whenever possible, offer freshly expressed breast milk in the bottle. This is an essential step, albeit a slightly challenging one. While it may require you to find time for additional pumping sessions during the day, it's well worth the effort. Even expressing just an ounce every day through a short 10-15 minute session can support the transition to bottle feeding.

    • It's important to note that frozen and defrosted breast milk can sometimes have a different taste and smell (tastes soapy or metallic) due to the activity of an enzyme called lipase. Your baby might notice this difference, so it's wise to begin bottle introduction with fresh milk before gradually introducing thawed milk and, if needed, formula. You can also prevent the change in taste from happening by scalding the milk i.e. put freshly expressed milk into a hot and clean pan. Heat to 82 degrees C and then let it cool down. After that you can refrigerate/freeze your breastmilk. 

  6. Avoid Stress and Pressure
    • Babies are intuitive and can sense their caregivers' emotions. Avoid any stress or pressure during bottle feeding attempts. If your baby does not accept the bottle initially, do not force or apply undue pressure. Forcing the bottle can lead to bottle aversion, making the transition even more challenging. Instead, remain calm and patient, and try again at a later time.
  7. Choose the Right Timing
    • Timing can be crucial in bottle introduction. Offer the bottle when your baby is not extremely hungry or tired, as they can become frustrated in such states. Opt for a top-up feed around 30 minutes before naptime or offer a bottle after your baby has nursed halfway. Finding the right window can make a significant difference in your baby's willingness to accept the bottle.
  8. Mimic Ideal Temperature
    • Babies often prefer milk at body temperature, similar to breast milk. To mimic this temperature, warm the bottle and test it on your wrist to ensure it's not too hot. Offering milk that's close to body temperature can make the bottle more appealing to your baby.
  9. Skip the bottle
    • If your baby is younger, you can opt for spoon feeding or use a feeding cup (has a spout) to feed your baby breastmilk/formula. 
    • If your baby is older, you can also introduce open cups and/or straw cups to drink milk. 


Introducing a bottle to your breastfed baby is a journey that requires patience, persistence, and a sprinkle of flexibility. Each baby is unique, and their response to bottle feeding can vary. Therefore, it's essential to remain calm, adaptable, and responsive to your baby's cues throughout this process.

Remember, the goal is not just to transition your baby to the bottle but to do so smoothly and lovingly. If this transition is not working well despite repeated attempts, you can consider other alternatives to bottles such as using an open cup orr straw cup or spoon feeding.

Besides feeding, if you're a mother preparing to return to work and concerned about sleep issues due to nighttime wake-ups, don't worry; I have a solution for you.

Check out my signature Infant Sleep Training Program, designed to help your child sleep through the night. It's time for both you and your baby to enjoy the restful sleep you deserve.