I often get calls about a baby who won’t take a bottle. This is usually accompanied by a plea from a desperate mother who is getting ready to return to work and fears that her baby won’t eat all day. The internet is full of helpful (or not so helpful) suggestions for parents to try. Some work, some do not. Ideas such as “your baby will drink from the bottle when they are hungry” don’t usually work. Young babies are not masters of manipulation and they are not refusing because they have a different plan in mind.
On the same level, I usually hear from someone that their first baby (or second, or third…) would not take a bottle. Ever.
So what’s a mother to do? It has been my experience that if a baby will not take a bottle and you have tried all the other little tricks such as changing bottle nipples, walking with baby while feeding, paced feeding, there is one thing left. It’s possible that your baby can’t take the bottle. They can’t figure out how to make it work. This could be a coordination problem, tongue tie, suck issue…there’s several to investigate. This can be overcome, but the best thing to do is call a lactation consultant to assess the latch and see just what your baby is doing when bottles are offered. Is she gagging? Pushing the nipple out? Rolling it around on her tongue? Chewing on it? Remember, breastfeeding is instinctive. Breastfeeding comes easier to babies than bottle feeding, and your baby may need a little help to figure out how to do it.
If you never need to give a bottle, then you have nothing to worry about. However, more mothers are returning to the workforce a couple of months after having a baby and giving a bottle is an important part of that. Do you find yourself in this situation? Then you need to check out this week’s podcast. All about bottle feeding, and what to do if it’s not working.