From breast to bottle

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Breastfeeding not for me woman bottle feeding baby
While formula-fed babies have to get used to a teat out of necessity, it's also useful for a breastfed baby to use a teat, although this can be a bit of a challenge. Here's why some babies take a little persuading...

Technique: Sucking from a bottle requires a different technique to feeding from the breast, and babies take a while to master it. If you plan to do both, wait until breastfeeding has been established for three or four weeks. Doing so beforehand can create 'nipple confusion', where a baby can't suck from a bottle and forgets how to feed from the breast, too.

Sensation: While it's recommended to wait a bit, if you plan to introduce a bottle you're also advised not to wait too long. A baby who's used to a warm, soft breast may reject a cold rubber teat.

A matter of taste: If you're supplementing breastmilk with formula, a baby may simply dislike the taste, or the temperature it's served at. This is less likely to be a problem with expressed breastmilk.

A better offer: A baby often refuses a bottle from his mum because he can smell the breastmilk that's being withheld and will usually hold out in the hope of getting it direct from the source. There are easy ways to overcome a refusal to take milk from the bottle, and remember that perseverance pays off:

Timing: Offer a bottle when your baby's hungry but not desperate and avoid introducing it when he's in a bit of a mood, as he's not likely to be up for new experiences.

Mum's not No. 1!: Dads can get really puffed up about this one because they usually have more success than mums. When a baby can't smell or feel his mum's breasts, he's far more likely to take what he's given.

Trying teats: A baby may take well to one teat, and reject another, so try a few. If you plan to breast-feed as well as offering the bottle, it could affect your milk supply so it's worth expressing and storing your milk. It'll keep for 24 hours in the fridge (not the door) or three months in the freezer.

- Next: What happens if my baby starts to refuse milk? Find out more

Continued below...

More help and advice

- More advice on coping after the birth
- Breastfeeding myths busted
- More tips for coping with breastfeeding
- I panicked when my baby stopped breastfeeding!' Read one new mum's experience

All pages in this article

  1. 1. Breastfeeding guide
  2. 2. From breast to bottle
  1. 3. Refusing milk

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