what is written here is a share about my experience, please talk to a lactation consultant or doctor for all of your concerns
What can you do when your breastfed baby won't take the bottle? It happened with our first, and we thought it wouldn't happen with our second because we had learned to not wait too long to introduce the bottle and to offer it daily. But, it did. She took a bottle of expressed breast milk at about 6 or 7 weeks and our goal was to give her a bottle once a day. But, she took the bottle so easily that we slacked. There were maybe 2 weeks that we only offered it to her a couple of times. Then, she didn't want it. It was like she didn't know what to do with the bottle nipple. She would chew on it and play a bit until she got frustrated because she was hungry.
So, we tried many bottles. We had read that it depends on the baby, what works for one baby might not for another. Here are some things that helped us along the way or that we at least tried based on what we were told or that we read. And yes, she eventually did take the bottle and drinks from it happily now!
- try different positions and locations - sitting on your lap facing out, hold similar to nursing, walk around while holding the baby, in a baby bjorn bouncer or something similar, outside, in the stroller, leaning back on your thighs with your knees bent, talk to baby, smile and coo, distract with someone else talking to baby
- mom needs to be out of the house, not in another room...baby knows. some babies only took the bottle at first from mom, but I think in most circumstances mom being out of the house is probably best.
- try warm milk, really warm milk, room temp or cold milk.
- if your letdown is fast, use a faster flow nipple. if your letdown is slow - then a newborn or slow flow nipple
We were told: if your baby won't drink milk from the bottle, a syringe can work (we got this one from our pediatrician). Don't put the whole thing in baby's mouth. Just drop a few drops in at a time, they will get some milk. We also were advised to use a small cup and hold it at the base of baby's bottom lip, she'll put her tongue in and lap it up like a kitty, she did! I didn't fully understand it until it happened. It is important not to pour the milk in baby's mouth
I spoke to one lactation consultant who told me that it sounded like our baby didn't know what to do with the plastic nipple in her mouth, that we needed to help her practice. I think this is one thing that really really helped! She advised: hold the baby in a nursing position after she is well fed and before she is asleep. Put a pacifier in her mouth and help her hold it in there without forcing it. Sometimes rubbing it on the roof of the baby's mouth or holding it so she wants to suck it in. To do this for maybe 2 weeks while you are hoping she takes the bottle. Only so it is a positive experience, not forcing anything. I really think this helped.
The bottle she has consistently taken the most and the easiest is this wonderful piece of equipment - the Nuk glass bottle with a latex nipple. Nuk has a branch in the USA and sells their products at http://www.nuk-usa.com. The glass/latex version is only sold through Nuk in Europe. But you can get it on Amazon or eBay (that's what we did). Nuk has a plastic version that seems very similar sold in the USA. For some reason, at least for now, our baby likes the latex nipple version, and we prefer glass to plastic. But, the plastic one is easily available and more economical. Here is a picture of the two of them side by side.
We had heard from another parent that the MAM was all her baby would take. So, we tried it (with the nipple size 2). Our baby definitely liked this one as well. It has a shorter nipple, so it doesn't fill the baby's mouth as much, and it also has a little texture, which some baby's would like. We also had bought MAM's newborn pacifier. I think it is a great bottle! I wish they offered something in the US in glass.
There is a very cool bottle design I had recently read about by a company called Mason Bottle. It is a silicone sleeve, nipple and top. It goes on an existing mason bottle, either 4 oz or 8 oz. It is a great economical design. For some reason, that nipple design didn't work for our baby as well, but I am sure it would for many babies. The nipple seems very similar to the Comotomo or Tommee Tippee which many parents raved were the only bottles their babies would take!
To those of you whose baby's are having trouble...good luck! I know the stress it can cause. Calling a lactation consultant is something that could really help, even if only to get 5 minutes of expert advice. Many health insurance plans will cover a certain amount of lactation consultant appointments, so it is also worth calling your health insurance to find out if it is included in your coverage.
Mason Bottle gave me a set of theirs to try as did Nuk-USA and MAM. Thank you!