Ask the experts: Bottle-feeding

My baby is having trouble adapting to bottle-feeding. What should I do?

Babies who are feeding well at the breast sometimes react quite strongly when they’re offered a bottle instead. It can cause a lot of upset and stress if you’re a mother about to return to work or if you want the flexibility of being able to leave a bottle with a caregiver while you do something else.

One tip is to ensure you’re not the person offering the bottle. Your baby may accept if from someone else who’s not the person offering the bottle. Your baby may empty bottle to hold and play with, so she becomes familiar with the object. Ask your caregiver to be gentle and patient when the bottle is offered and to avoid forcing or pushing.

If your baby is resisting the bottle and shows signs of distress when it’s offered, wait for a week or so before trying again.

Babies around 4 to 5 months of age can drink from a cup with assistance. Use a small cup (even an egg cup) at first, and then work up to a larger one, perhaps with a sput so she can sip and suck. Yes, cup-feeding takes longer at first, because of the small amounts going in at a time, but it’s a useful option if you feel the bottle route is closed because of your baby’s difficulty with it.

—Heather Welford, author of Successful Infant Feeding: Ensuring Your Baby Thrives on the Breast or Bottle and volunteer breastfeeding counselor

Image: / Grady Reese

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