How To Overcome Bottle Aversion?

Breast milk may be best for baby, but certainly not for the mother! What if the baby does not want the bottle? Here’s how to overcome bottle aversion in your baby.

Whether a mother chooses to bottle-feed or breastfeed her child is her choice. Due to different reasons, mothers have been switching to bottle-feeding their children, as is evident by the decreasing breastfeeding rate from 90% in the 20th century to approximately 42% in the 21st century. But its also a fact that breast milk is good for the babies health, at least for the first few months.

But what if a baby has an aversion to bottle feeding? It can be a cause of worry for parents, and all they want is to help their babies overcome this aversion so that they can keep growing. Read on below to find out what bottle-feeding aversion is, its reasons, and how to overcome it.

How To Overcome Bottle Aversion

What Is Bottle-Feeding Aversion?

Bottle feeding aversion is the refusal of feeding on a bottle by a baby who is otherwise physically well even after being hungry. It is common in premature babies, but can happen with normal babies too.

A breastfed baby with bottle-feeding aversion is perplexing because they refuse to suck at a bottle nipple when they fully well understand what to do. Every time parents try to bottle feed the baby, and they show signs of distress and cry.

Why would a mother want to bottle feed their child?

There can be a variety of reasons why you or someone else would want to bottle feed their child, and the choice solely depends on the mother. The reason can be anything, from not having enough milk to the babies needing supplements or formula or the mother choosing not to breastfeed her child.

Some mothers have to resume work soon after childbirth, and bottle feeding allows them to do so easily. Bottle feeding your child will enable you to do your tasks without worrying about your child being hungry.

How To Overcome Bottle Aversion

Signs of Oral Aversion

If you are unsure whether your child has bottle aversion, you can look for these few signs.

  • Your baby is skipping their feed without any sign of distress.
  • Your baby is hungry but refuses to take milk, or solid food.
  • When it is time to feed, your baby screams, cries, or distresses.
  • Even during feeding, the baby only drinks a small amount of milk.
  • When you try to bottle feed your baby, they turn their head away, shut their mouth, and avoid looking at the bottle or you.
  • You can only feed them when they are sleepy or drowsy.
  • The baby is showing poor growth .

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Bottle Aversion: Why Does My Baby Refuse To Be Bottle Fed?

Bottle aversion can result from fear associated with the bottle due to unpleasant experiences. Several reasons can trigger a negative feeling in your baby when you try to bottle feed them.

  • Parents often pressure babies into eating more if they feel that their baby is underweight. It can result in babies feeling stressed.
  • Your baby may be fearful of the bottle because of a previous instance of choking or gagging while feeding on the bottle.
  • Your baby may have undergone a medical procedure like inserting a feeding tube or oral or nasal suctioning. They may be associating the feeling with the bottle.
  • Your baby may be in pain due to mouth ulcers, acid reflux, or milk allergy.
  • Your baby may have a feeding disorder which is common in babies who have been in NICU for a long time.
How To Overcome Bottle Aversion

How Can Bottle Aversion Affect You?

Since babies can not express their feelings, it isn’t easy to understand why they behave a certain way. For a new parent, it is even more frustrating if your baby has bottle aversion, and that too, within a few months or weeks of being born. 

Many parents whose baby has a bottle aversion can develop anxiety over time. Even the thought of feeding their baby can trigger an anxiety attack. It will eventually lower their confidence, self-esteem, and competence as a parent. 

While most parents overcome this phase slowly, the situation can worsen for some. Parents often don’t even want to leave their homes or go to work so that they can try feeding their children. 

Babies’ aversion to bottle feeding can also feel like rejection to parents, and they will have trouble creating a bond with their child. It can lead to frustration and anger directed towards their baby, resulting in guilt. Bottle aversion in babies can be traumatizing for parents and can affect their daily lifestyle.

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Here Are Our Top Tips for Overcoming Bottle Refusal

As a parent, everyone wishes to see their child grow and develop, and bottle aversion can result in a setback in the child’s growth. However, there are a few ways you can help your baby overcome bottle aversion.

Let the baby get used to bottle-feeding

Do not force your baby to drink from a bottle. Let them become habituated with the bottle first. Babies should latch on to the bottle like they do with breasts. 

  • First, touch the baby’s nose and lips with the nipple on the bottle. Due to the rooting reflex, babies will open their mouths automatically. Once they do that, only then place the nipple in their mouth.
  • Instead of using the whole bottle, try this technique with just the nipple first. Once babies have taken the nipple in their mouth, rub the nipple along their tongue, inner cheek, and gums to make them get accustomed to the texture and feel of the nipple. Repeat this process till the baby starts to accept the nipple. 
  • Put your fingers inside the nipple and rub it against their tongue to encourage them to suck it. Once they start sucking, only they offer milk with the bottle. 
  • Start slowly. Give a few drops of milk first and if they drink it, then offer the whole bottle.
How To Overcome Bottle Aversion

Let someone else feed the baby.

Babies often associate feeding with their mother and be averted to bottle if they see or smell you. You can try leaving the room and letting someone else feed the baby.

Bottle feed your baby the same way as breastfeeding

  • While bottle feeding, hold and cuddle your baby the same way you do when breastfeeding.
  • Maintain skin contact with the baby to ease them while bottle feeding.
  • Sleep with a piece of cloth and then wrap the cloth around the bottle so that it smells like you.
  • You can also associate breastfeeding with a stuffed animal and use the same toy while bottle-feeding the baby.
  • If you sing or play any specific song while breastfeeding, do the same while bottle feeding.

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Change the location or position of the feeding.

Your baby may be averted to bottle feeding if the feeding position or the location is not comfortable for them.

  • You can try changing the location or position of bottle feeding. 
  • Try holding your baby slightly upright or have your partner hold them.
  • You can also put them in a seat or a stroller.
  • Walk around the house to distract them while bottle feeding.
  • Take your baby outside or distract them with a toy or music.
How To Overcome Bottle Aversion

The milk should be at an ideal temperature.

The temperature of the milk might be too hot or cold for your baby’s liking. Try milk with different temperatures to find out what your baby likes. Some babies prefer to drink slightly warm milk or milk having a temperature similar to breast milk, while some prefer to drink cold milk from a bottle. You can also put the nipple into the freezer to soothe the baby’s gum if they are teething.

Change the bottle

The bottle may be too big or too small, or the nipple may not be comfortable with sucking for the baby. If none of the above tips work, you can try changing the bottle. The nipple on the bottle differs from your breast nipple, which may be why your baby has bottle aversion.

Be Patient

You have to be patient while trying to bottle-feed your baby. It might take a few days to a few weeks for your baby to become habitual with bottle feeding. If your baby does not like the bottle, try the next day again.

How To Overcome Bottle Aversion

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does bottle aversion last?

There is no fixed time for how long a bottle aversion will last in a baby. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It all depends on the reason for the aversion and what tips you are using to overcome the aversion.

Why do breastfed babies refuse bottle?

Breastfed babies are used to feeding on their mothers, which is why they refuse bottles. There can be several reasons behind it, the feel of the nipple is different, the feeding position may be uncomfortable, or the babies may refuse bottles because they don’t associate bottles with feeding.

Why is my baby fighting his bottle?

There can be several reasons for your baby to fight his bottle. He might not like the feel of the bottle and want to be breastfed, or he might be sick. If your baby is hungry but still fights his bottle, there can be some underlying cause.

Wrap Up

Babies can be averted to bottle feeding for stress, pain, or other reasons. There are several ways you can help your baby overcome its bottle aversion. Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope that the tips we have shared in this article helped you.