Switching baby from breast to bottle

Q: How do I get my three-month-old daughter to take a bottle? She started refusing the occasional emergency bottle of pumped breast milk about three weeks ago. I have started teaching one night a week, and my very patient husband has had no luck getting her to take a bottle while I’m gone. We have tried several bottles and nipples to no avail. (She uses a Nuk pacifier.)Any advice would be appreciated!

A: Because sucking at the breast is so completely different from sucking from a bottle, many breast-fed infants who have never drunk from a bottle by about three weeks of age never learn (or are never willing to do so). Many of these babies can be taught to drink from a cup, and I would encourage you to try feeding her pumped breast milk from a small cup.

Isn’t it amazing how such a little person can be so set in his ways? Babies have a tremendous instinct to know that breast-feeding is good for them. But rest assured, most babies will eventually take a bottle when they’re really hungry. Your baby may prefer to take it from someone other than you.

Here’s how to begin: Take a few hours away from your daughter and leave a bottle of pumped breast milk with your partner or your mom. Your daughter may wait a little longer and eat slightly less than she normally would while breast-feeding. But don’t stick around to watch — your daughter will know if you are there, and you will be more likely to nurse him if she resists. Don’t give up — the trick is to be persistent.

Some babies are particular about the nipple they will use, either because of the shape or the texture. Clear silicon nipples seem to be less offensive to breast-fed babies. I have also found that many babies will take the brand, “Avent” nipples more because they appear to have more breast-like qualities.

Another way to help facilitate the transition is the introduction of a pacifier. Encouraging your baby to take one may help make his mouth less sensitive to foreign objects. As a last resort, some babies can learn to drink from a sippy cup by the time they are approximately four weeks old.

As you return to work, you may be able to continue to breast feed your baby. With the help of an electric pump, you can supply breast milk to your daughter’s caregiver.

I encourage you to seek further advice from a certified lactation consultant in your area.

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