Ask Our Experts: Tips for When Baby Won’t Take a Bottle

Libby Cain

Lactation consultant and midwife, Libby Cain from Libby & Co offers her advice.

Q: Help, my baby won’t take a bottle! I want to be able to pump and have someone give my baby a bottle of expressed milk so I can go out on occasion but they keep refusing. Any tips?

Libby: Having your baby refusing to taking a bottle can be stressful for both your baby and the person trying to feed them.

Because babies love the smell of their mums and associate feeding with the comfort of breastfeeding, they understandably may not take one. So I advise getting someone other than the mum to give it to them. Sometimes the mum may need to leave the house so their baby can’t smell them.

My other tips include:

  • Getting someone to give the bottle in-between feeds so that the baby can grasp the new skill when they are bit more relaxed.
  • Sometimes moving around while trying to give them a bottle might help.
  • Experiment with different temperatures of milk as this may make a difference.
  • Try wrapping the bottle in a piece of the mums clothing so it smells familiar.
  • Hold the baby in a different position to the way in which they normally breastfeed.
  • Try using a wider teat and allow them to take in the teat “their time” with a wide mouth around the base of the teat.

It’s also important to keep in mind that when feeding your baby with a bottle, it is recommended to use the paced bottle feeding method, in which a baby has more control of the feeding, much like when on the breast. There are plenty of videos of this on YouTube and Soteria have a step-by-step guide which you can read here.


Follow Libby on Instagram @libbyandco_nz. To book a consultation with Libby, contact her via the details on her website.

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