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Having Trouble Bottle Feeding Your Baby? Try These Tips

Breastfeeding is important for a newborn's health because breast milk contains antibodies which help protect the child from several common childhood illnesses, and it also provides energy and nutrients that the newborn requires for the first few months of life. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life, and continue breastfeeding along with introducing nutritious complementary foods up to the age of two years or beyond [1].

However, breastfeeding can be challenging for some mothers. From having problems while breastfeeding to wanting to resume work, there are many reasons why a mother may decide to introduce her infant to bottle-feeding. So, what is bottle-feeding? It is defined as feeding of any liquid, including breast milk or semi-solid food from a bottle with nipple/teat.

Although bottle-feeding could be helpful sometimes you may face trouble bottle-feeding your infant, especially when you are trying to feed and your baby refuses the bottle. There could be many reasons behind it [2].

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Reasons Why Your Baby Is Refusing The Bottle

Here are some common reasons why your baby refuses bottle-feeding:

  • Your baby wants to continue breastfeeding.
  • Your baby does not like the texture of the nipple/teat of the bottle.
  • You are holding your baby in an uncomfortable position.
  • Your baby is not hungry enough.
  • Your baby is feeling sick and doesn't want bottle-feeding.
  • Your baby doesn't like the flavour, temperature or texture of the milk.

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Signs To Know When Your Baby Refuses To Bottle-Feed

Here are some common signs you should observe when your baby refuses the bottle:

  • Your baby starts to cry when you place them in a feeding position.
  • Your baby falls asleep while feeding.
  • Your baby is constantly turning and shifting the head to avoid the bottle.
  • Your baby coughs and spits out milk.
  • Throwing up the milk from the mouth.
  • Closing the mouth when the nipple of the bottle is inserted, but not sucking.
  • Your baby spills out most of the milk from the sides of the mouth instead of swallowing.

Once you know the reason why your baby is refusing to bottle-feed you can address the problem with the help of these tips.

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Tips For Bottle-Feeding Problems

  • Stay calm and relaxed while bottle-feeding as this can make the baby more open to bottle-feeding.
  • Wait for your baby to feel hungry before feeding.
  • Try changing the bottle size and shape and the nipple to see how your baby responds.
  • Make a slow and gradual transition from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding.
  • Check the temperature of the milk before feeding. Breast milk is lukewarm so ensure that the bottle is not too warm or cold.
  • Hold your baby in a different feeding position while feeding.
  • If your baby is teething, try changing the temperature of the milk because teething babies sometimes prefer cold milk.
  • Feed your baby at regular time intervals of three to four hours.
  • Stay in a comfortable position while feeding your baby.
  • When bottle-feeding, avoid any kind of distractions like music, phone and toys.
  • Set a mealtime limit to 30 minutes.
  • Allow another member of the family to bottle-feed to see how your baby responds to it.

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When To See A Doctor

It is normal for babies to sometimes refuse bottle-feeding, but if your baby is refusing the bottle constantly, it could be a sign of an eating disorder or an illness [3].

Consult a doctor immediately if this lasts more than one month, having prolonged and stressful mealtimes and creating distractions to increase the food intake. Also, if your baby is sick and unable to eat, then you should seek medical help immediately.

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