Baby Refusing The Bottle? Here’s What To Do To Make Bottle Feeding Easier

by | Nov 22, 2023

Woman feeding baby with a bottle

Are you struggling to get your baby to take a bottle? This is very common, and it can leave you feeling stressed and anxious, especially if you’re preparing to go back to work. Don’t worry, Mama, bottle feeding your baby can become simpler with a few strategies. 

Tip: If you’re going to be pumping and building up a stockpile of breast milk for when you go back to work, download our free guide to storing breast milk here

Keep reading for our favorite bottle feeding baby tips to help your baby overcome bottle aversion and get full feedings (which will positively impact their sleep!). 

But first, what could be behind your baby’s dislike for the bottle?

What Causes Bottle Aversion In Babies? 

It’s important to find the root cause behind your baby’s aversion to the bottle. When you know the ‘why’ it’s way easier to fix the problem. 


Being close to you can be calming for your baby, so trying to reduce breastfeeding and introduce a bottle can be stressful for them. 

Milk Temperature

Formula or breast milk being too hot or too cold can create problems. “Some babies couldn’t care less whether their bottle is cool or warm, but many have a strong preference and will be quite vocal about it,” adds The Bump, so it can be worth it to adjust the temperature.  

Reflux Or Constipation

When your little one’s belly isn’t feeling good, they may refuse the bottle. Addressing reflux and constipation can pave the way for a better feeding journey. 

Here are some techniques you can use to help your baby efficiently feed from their bottle:

Baby being swaddled with a blanket

Try Swaddling For The Feed

Swaddling is a fantastic way to help your baby feel calmer and more secure. A study found that swaddling preterm babies improved bottle feeding quality. So, if it’s the closeness and attachment to you that they’re missing when it comes to bottle feeding, wrapping them in a swaddle may help. 

Calm Baby Before Attempting To Begin Feeding

A calm baby is way easier to feed. If your little one is fussy and overstimulated, take them out of the situation to a darker, quieter environment. Healthline suggests putting on some white noise, “You can also play soft music or turn on a sound machine or white noise machine. Just avoid TVs or phones – experts agree these are too stimulating for children under age 2.”

When your baby has settled down, they’re more likely to be open to feed from a bottle. 

Man feeding baby a bottle

Get Someone Else To Feed Them

If you’re around, your baby might try and hold out for breastfeeding. To reduce this chance and encourage them to take a bottle, get your partner or family member to feed them. What To Expect points out, “Dads release oxytocin, that bonding hormone, just as moms do when they snuggle skin to skin with their little ones.” So, it’s important for their dad to feed them often, too. 

Review Nipple Size For Appropriate Flow Rate

Your baby may be frustrated with feeding from a bottle due to the milk flow rate.

Signs that a flow rate is too fast include: 

  • They’re getting choked on the milk flow and spilling, “As milk flow increases, the rate of swallowing must increase, and therefore, the degree of respiratory interruption increases. If the infant is not able to swallow at a rate to match the flow rate, the infant may compensate by allowing the milk to drool out of the mouth,” explains the National Institutes of Health
  • Your baby is uncoordinated.

If this sounds like your situation, go down a nipple size for a slower flow rate, such as a newborn nipple. This will more closely mimic breastfeeding. 

Signs that a flow rate is too slow:

  • Your baby is older and out of the newborn phase. 
  • They’re taking a couple of ounces and then they’re done, so you’re having to feed them more often.

Try going up a nipple size for an easier feeding experience for your baby.

Position Baby In An Elevated Side Position For Feeding

The position in which you bottle feed your baby is important, too. “Hold your baby in a semi-upright position for bottle feeds. Support their head so they can breathe and swallow comfortably,” advises the NHS. Also, make sure that you’re sitting comfortably; you can maintain eye contact with your little one and talk to them to soothe them. 

Keep The Tip Of The Nipple Full Throughout Feed

This can reduce the chance of your baby swallowing air while feeding. Swallowing too much air can cause discomfort, pain, and gas. 

Man burping a baby

Burp Your Baby 

If your baby swallows air when feeding, they get uncomfortable and fussy. This irritability can cause them to swallow even more air! So, it’s important to take a break during bottle feeding to burp your baby. “To prevent a tummy full of air, burp your baby frequently – after every two or three ounces of formula. If your baby doesn’t burp after a couple of minutes of trying, resume feeding,” says Parents

It may take some trial and error to get your little one comfortable with the bottle. Try the above tips to make the transition an easier one. 

Meet Hillary

Hi! I’m Hillary, the Mama behind Baby Settler. These days you can find me with my four children and husband… probably outside, and helping Mama’s and families. I also have a lot of letters behind my name which translate, I’m also a Labor & Delivery nurse and Lactation Consultant.

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