Main content

    Suggestions for Introducing the Bottle

    • To begin introducing the bottle, it’s helpful for baby to first be familiar with it. Let baby play around with bottle (licking, smelling, touching) and/or have it visually accessible.


    • Have someone other than mom introduce the bottle. Many nursing babies won’t take a bottle from their mother because they can smell her milk 50-100 feet away. Consider leaving the house for at least a 1/2 hour. An experienced bottle feeder may be most successful due to experience and confidence. It’s important that whoever is giving the bottle have a casual and relaxed attitude. Babies can sense when a person is getting agitated and/or has an "agenda."


    • Some babies prefer breast milk in the bottle and some prefer something other than breast milk.


    • The silicone nipples have a flow similar to the breast. Do not try too many different nipples in a short amount of time. Stay with any new nipple for at least 8 days. When you find one baby will take, stick with that.


    • Try varying the nipple temperature. Some babies like the contents of the bottle warmed to breast milk temperature and some babies don’t mind. To warm the nipple run under warm water. Or, cool nipple by placing in the refrigerator if you have a teething baby.


    • Some babies take a bottle better in a totally different position from nursing. Try propping the baby in your lap with the baby’s back to your chest. The baby will see the room while drinking the bottle. Position baby as if in an infant seat, and give the bottle while looking at him or her.


    • Take baby outside in a baby carrier (such as Baby Bjorn). Have your baby facing outward as you are walking around giving the bottle. It helps if baby is interested in other things, therefore, distracting baby from your agenda of giving them the bottle.


    • It is best not to introduce a bottle when baby is extremely hungry or late in the day. It is hard for someone to introduce the first bottle at PM feedings when they have not been with the baby all day.


    • Gently stimulate the baby’s mouth with the silicone nipple as is done for the first nursing at the breast. Let the baby “mouth” the bottle nipple and become familiar with it. Remember baby “suckles” at the breast – with a bottle baby gets milk with very little effort and may initially back off from the faster flow.


    • Try to feed while moving rhythmically, calming the baby and distracting him or her when introducing the bottle.


    • If all else fails, consider a training cup with a soft nipple or a regular cup. When mother and baby are together, frequent nursing helps satisfy his sucking need. If all else fails, make an appointment with a lactation consultant to discuss your specific needs.


    • Above all do not get into a “fight” with the baby – if baby is adamantly refusing to take the bottle wait until another time and try again. Just as with breastfeeding use lots of patience and persistence!