Transitioning from Breast to Bottles

If you decide to breastfeed your child, transitioning to a bottle can have its hurdles. Babies get comfortable receiving nutrition from their moms, and introducing a bottle can be difficult. To make the transition as smooth as possible, consider the following:

Have someone else introduce the bottle

If the baby is used to being fed directly from mom, let dad or another guardian introduce the bottle. Have the mom stay out-of-sight so the baby isn’t tempted to reach for her.

Change your environment

Instead of introducing the bottle in the same place the baby typically gets breastfed, go to a new area of the house. By changing up feeding cues, the baby may be more willing to try something new.

Start slow

Begin the transition by feeding the baby with a small amount of breast milk before he would typically get hungry. By doing so, the baby will remain calm. The dad or guardian can also drip a small amount of breast milk on the baby’s lips or tongue so that they know what they will be eating is something familiar and enjoyable.

After that, the feeder should slowly and gently put the bottle into the baby’s mouth. If the child doesn’t respond well at first, don’t force it. Simply take a small break before trying again. You don’t want to associate negative feelings with the bottle.

Switch bottles, if necessary

If you’ve been patient and have tried the same bottle multiple times with no positive results, consider changing the nipple or actual bottle. Be sure to try each new device for a few days before you move on to the next one.

Give more

Once you’ve found a bottle that works and the baby responds positively, increase the amount of milk given until you reach a full feeding. It’s also important to have other people try bottle-feeding, so that if the baby’s parents aren’t available, he can comfortably receive adequate nutrition.

As always, if you hit any bumps in the road, reach out to your pediatrician or other pediatric providers for help.