All you want as a mother is for your baby to be fed and happy. Sometimes for that to happen, it is necessary to transition to bottle feeds, or simply introduce occasional bottle feeds to your baby’s routine.
There are many reasons why introducing your baby to bottle feeding is a positive thing, including supplementing their diet with formula, or allowing other caregivers to bond through feeding with expressed breast milk.
When trying to find a bottle for your breastfed baby, it is important to remember that they have preferences, just like we do.
However, it can be very frustrating when your breastfed baby refuses a bottle feed and it can be even more difficult if you don’t know why they are refusing. In this article, we will look at the best bottles for breastfed babies that refuse bottles.
Why Do Babies Refuse Bottles?
Before we look at the different types of bottles that may work for your breastfed baby, let’s look at the reasons why a baby might refuse or be reluctant to use a bottle.
Even though all babies are different and individuals, there are a few common reasons why a baby is likely to struggle with transitioning between being breastfed and bottle-fed, especially if they are having to switch back and forth regularly.
One of the main reasons that your baby might refuse a bottle is that they simply prefer the breast.
Feeding on the breast will be familiar, it might be easier for your baby, and it could provide a higher level of comfort to them as well.
This is a problem that can be quite difficult to combat with anything other than patience and encouragement. Change can be difficult for anyone, but sometimes it is necessary.
Another reason why your baby might dislike feeding on a bottle is the temperature of the milk inside the bottle. Your breastfed baby will be used to feeding at the temperature that your breastmilk is when it comes straight from your breast.
If you are using formula to supplement breastfeeding, or you are feeding expressed breast milk, it can be difficult to match the temperature that your baby is used to. This however, can be fixed over time with trial and error.
Finally, a common reason for your baby to refuse a bottle is the flow of the milk. Your breastfed baby will be used to the speed at which your breastmilk leaves your nipple.
If the bottle that you are using has a faster or slower flow, it can be difficult or confusing for your baby to adapt to. Differences in milk flow between breast and bottle feeding can also make it difficult for your baby to switch back and forth.
This is important to consider if you are supplementing breastfeeding or using bottles for expressed milk.
How To Prevent Bottle Refusal
The process of introducing a breastfed baby to the bottle is a delicate art.
Start too soon and you may end up with a baby that refuses the breast, wait too long, however, and your baby may flat out refuse to feed on a bottle. While the balance is fine, it is possible.
One of the best ways to introduce your breastfed baby to the bottle is to introduce a “snack bottle” to your baby’s routine.
This bottle only needs to be around 0.5 to 1 ounce (14 - 30ml) in volume but will allow your baby to become familiar with bottle feeding while maintaining a strong relationship with breastfeeding to avoid disrupting their regular feeding.
However, the bottle that you use to introduce a “snack bottle” is still important.
What To Look For In A Bottle For Your Breastfed Baby
There are a few important aspects to consider when you are looking for a suitable bottle to introduce to your baby.
The best place to start when searching for a bottle to supplement breastfeeding is to understand how you breastfeed.
In particular, it is important to be aware of the flow of milk when you are breastfeeding so that you are able to select a bottle that has a similar milk flow to help your baby transition.
It is also important to look for a bottle that has a teat that is similar to your nipple size and shape, this will help make the bottle feel more familiar for your baby when they use it.
The size of the teat in relation to your nipples is also important for making sure that the bottle is not too big for your baby's mouth.
Finally, it is a good idea to purchase bottles in various sizes when you introduce bottle feeding. Bottles that are capable of providing a full feed to your baby, and a larger size ready for when your baby grows and begins to feed more.
The Best Bottles For Your Breastfed Baby Who Refuses The Bottle
Now that we know why your baby might refuse to feed on a bottle, some ways that you can prevent refusal, and the main things to consider when you are looking for a suitable bottle for your baby, we will now look at the best bottles for your breastfed baby who refuses a bottle.
OUR TOP PICK
The first bottle on our list is the Olababy gentle baby bottle.
This bottle has been designed to mimic the look and feel of a mother’s nipple to avoid nipple confusion in your baby, as well as promote latching and help create an easier transition.
This bottle features a dual-venting, anti-colic system that helps to eliminate air ingestion during feeds.
This dual vent system also helps to create a continuous flow of milk to provide a smooth feeding process, as well as reduce the amount of leftover residue, which will be particularly important to mothers who are expressing to provide bottle feeds.
As with all baby bottles, the Olababy bottle has been made entirely of non-toxic materials and is 100% safe for your baby to use regularly.
It also features a smooth textured exterior that makes it comfortable for your baby to grip during feeds.
- Nipple mimicking teat
- Dual vent system
- Easy to grip
- Threading on the screw cap can be fiddly
The Nanobebe Breast Milk baby bottle is one of the most unique-looking bottles on this list and has been designed specifically to help encourage babies to connect and engage with it which is great for babies that are bottle averse.
The uniqueness of this bottle doesn’t end with its appearance, however. The Nanobebe bottle has been designed to allow breast milk to warm and cool twice as fast as a standard baby bottle.
The more rapid cooling of this bottle helps to prevent the growth of bacteria within the bottle and the milk, increasing the safety of bottle feeding for your baby.
As with many of the bottles in this list, the Nanobebe bottle features a slow milk flow that helps to prevent colic and gas for your baby.
This helps to create a positive bottle feeding experience for both mom and baby and can reduce the risk of your baby developing an aversion to the bottle.
- Unique compact design to encourage engagement
- Rapid heating and cooling of milk
- Antibacterial design
- Slow milk flow
- An insecure base can lead to leaks
- The shape makes independent feeding difficult
The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottle has been designed specifically with transitioning babies in mind. The shape and feel of the teat on the bottle, mimics natural breastfeeding nipples.
This helps your baby to avoid nipple confusion and encourages a strong latch. The 9-ounce container allows you to provide a full feed to your baby with just a single bottle rather than multiple smaller bottles.
The teat is more flexible than any other teat on this list, allowing your baby to manipulate and move it as much as they need to, much like they would if they were breastfeeding.
The Closer to Nature bottles also feature a ventilation system to promote steady milk flow and prevent colic and other digestive issues.
These bottles are unlikely to leak, provided that they are being held with the vent in the right position. They are also available to purchase in a wide range of colors to add some fun to the transition to bottle-feeding.
- Natural, flexible teat mimics nipple
- Anti-colic ventilation system
- Does not leak
- Available in fun colors
- The vent system can be fiddly to maintain milk flow
Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow bottle is great for breastfeeding mothers who are experiencing some anxiety around the effects of bottle feeding on their baby’s digestion or the risk of spit-up.
The teats on this bottle feature a fully vented design that aids digestion in your baby and helps to preserve the nutrients present in the formula or breastmilk.
They are also designed to encourage full engagement with the teat to assist in reducing air ingestion as well as promoting a positive bottle feeding experience for mom and baby.
These bottles are designed to provide a level 1 slow flow of milk for your baby, however, there are some lactation specialists who have recommended the purchase of preemie teat when first encouraging breastfed babies to transition to bottle feeds.
There are few leakage issues with these bottles and the handy transport or storage cap helps to prevent leaks even during transit throughout the day.
Be sure to read our full review of Dr Brown's Natural Flow Bottles.
- Slow flow helps encourage the transition to bottle-feeding
- Encourage full teat engagement
- Preserves milk nutrients
- Reduces risk of digestive issues
- The glass bottle can crack or smash easier than plastic bottles
The Comotomo Natural Feel baby bottle is one of the best for reducing the risk of nipple confusion in your infant and reducing the risk of bottle refusal.
The design of this bottle is modern and sleek, but more importantly, it is easy to clean due to its wide shape.
One of the most impressive features of this bottle, and the main reason why it reduces the risk of bottle refusal, is the shape of the teat and lid.
The teat itself is soft and easily manipulated by your baby, much like a natural nipple is.
The rest of the lid features a more rounded and wide shape than most other bottles on this list which more closely resembles the natural shape of a mom's breast, making the bottle more familiar and comforting to breastfed babies.
These features help your baby to form a strong latch to the bottle.
The silicone body of the bottle allows you or your baby to squeeze the bottle to encourage milk flow when necessary, much like you might do when breastfeeding.
It also means that in the event that the bottle is dropped, it will not break or crack like glass and plastic bottles might over time.
To add to the list of benefits of the Comotomo bottle is the fact that it is microwave, dishwasher, and sterilizer safe making it extremely convenient to clean and prepare milk.
Similarly, a bottle brush is not necessary to clean it effectively, and it is capable of holding boiling water if required during cleaning.
- Natural teat and lid shape
- Soft bottle encourages natural feeding habits
- Easy to clean and sterilize
- Durable design
- The silicone body makes it unstable when standing
- The screw lid threading can be fiddly
Tips For Transitioning To A Bottle
Once you have selected a bottle to facilitate the transition from exclusive breastfeeding to supplemented bottle feeding, there are a few things that you can do to make the transition easier.
Take It Slow
There is no rush for your baby to master the art of bottle feeding and in most cases, it takes a while for babies to get to grips with bottle feeding.
Remember to have patience with your baby but also with yourself. If you have exclusively breastfed from the start, getting the hang of bottle feeding can take some getting used to for you as well.
Choosing the right time of day to offer bottle feeds to your baby is crucial in making the process as easy as possible.
While it might be tempting to encourage your partner or other caregivers to give bottle feeds in the middle of the night to give you a break, it is not going to make the transition any easier for you or your baby.
Instead, try to choose a time of day when both you and your baby are alert and well-rested to introduce the bottle. It may also be necessary to abandon a planned bottle feed near the start if your baby is particularly fussy or feeling unwell.
It might take a few attempts to achieve a successful first feed with the bottle. It is best to try with one feed a day until your baby is able to feed on the bottle.
If your baby is not making any progress in being able to feed on the bottle, you may need to try a different type of bottle to end up seeing success with bottle feeding.
Position Your Baby Upright
The positioning of your baby when bottle feeding is important, and it differs from the position that you and the baby find easiest when breastfeeding.
As a general rule, the best position for introducing bottle feeding to your baby is upright. Your baby should be supported in an upright position with the bottle being held parallel to the floor.
The milk should be coming at your baby horizontally. This helps to encourage your baby to suck on the bottle teat and to keep the bottle properly ventilated to avoid colic and other digestive issues.
If your little one is suffering from colic, these are the best formula's for colic
Pace Bottle Feeds
Pacing bottle feeds allows your baby to take breaks from feeding which helps prevent them from getting overwhelmed.
You should pause bottle feeds every few minutes to allow your baby to feed at their own pace and reduce the risk of vomiting after or during their feed.
It is also important to make sure that you have selected the correct teat size for your baby. You should start off with the smallest, slow flow teat to ensure that your baby can get used to bottle feeding at their own pace.
Over time your baby can move on to bigger teats, if they struggle with the next teat size, you may need to go back a step for a while.
There are many different types of bottles available to help your baby transition from exclusive breastfeeding to bottle feeding.
Not all of them will be suitable for your baby and some trial and error may be necessary, but once you have found a bottle that works for your baby, the risk of bottle refusal should be significantly reduced.