How to Introduce a Bottle

Julie Bendix, MPH RD LC CLC

It’s bottle time! Are you ready to learn how to introduce a bottle? You’re in the right place. Whether you need to leave your little one for work, a date, or whatever, bottles give you that extra freedom. Even if you don’t have an urgent need, bottle feeding is a way to involve your partner and gives you extra flexibility. Remember, only breastmilk or formula should go in the bottle until your little one is ready for solids around 6 months.

When can you start?

When your baby is about 2 weeks old, you can start introducing the bottle at least once a day.

Why start early? 

It will take a few tries for your little one to take a bottle. So the answer to how to introduce a bottle starts with patience. If you do it at least once a day, this will get your baby used to the bottle and keep him used to taking one. It is important to keep offering a bottle on a daily basis so that your baby does not forget (or start to refuse) the bottle in preference for the boob.

How to Introduce a Bottle, Step-by-Step

Tip 1: Give a taste

When you first introduce a bottle, squirt a little of the milk on the bottle nipple so your baby can taste it and know to start sucking. Rub the bottle’s nipple on your baby’s lips and allow them to open their mouths and latch onto the bottle.

Tip 2: Pump fresh

Offer freshly pumped breastmilk in a bottle. Older milk or milk at colder temperatures may be refused in the beginning. Start with ½ ounce at a time so you do not waste your milk. 

Tip 3: Keep mom away

Babies usually associate breastfeeding with mom. Consequently, some babies are more receptive to a bottle if it is offered to them from someone other than mom. Allow different caregivers to try and, if possible, go on an errand or a walk so you are not nearby. Your baby can smell you!

Tip 4: Baby is alert 

Try to offer the bottle while your baby is not sleepy, such as immediately after they wake up from a nap. 

Tip 5: Don’t give up!

Keep trying every day. Allow different caregivers to try. Keep it calm and never force it. If your baby starts to cry or push the bottle away, move on and try again the next day.

Tip 6: Be patient

If you research how to introduce a bottle, you might see a recommendation to try different bottles. Take caution on this one. You can try different types of bottles and nipples but this can end up costing you a lot of money. If you are consistent with the same bottle, your baby WILL eventually take it.

Tip 7: Seriously, be patient

Remember, all babies will eventually adjust to take a bottle when their breastfeeding moms are away. It can be stressful during this trial period but your baby will not refuse food when he or she is hungry enough and you are not nearby.

Bottom line: How to introduce a bottle? Do what’s right for you.

Feeding a newborn takes learning and experimenting for all involved! This isn’t easy. You are doing a great job! If you want to talk to one of our Fooblie coaches, who are lactation consultant we are here for you!

Remember, if you have to go back to work, daycare workers are trained in infant feeding and are experienced in handling bottle refusal. You’ve got this!