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Creative Child

Baby: 10 Tips to Coax Your Baby to Take the Bottle

by Deborah Song

Is your baby refusing the bottle? If so, you're not alone in what can be an exhausting battle. I remember all too well the dirty looks my baby used to give me at the sight of a bottle, how she flicked the bottle away from her face with repulsion when I tried to feed her, the uncontrollable crying bouts that ensued because she preferred to starve than drink from the bottle.

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And above all, I recall very vividly how tired and frustrated I was. I couldn't leave my daughter for more than three hours at a time and while she was a young infant, never saw a six-hour stretch of sleep. I was fortunate enough to work from home, but even then, found it difficult to focus with intermittent breastfeeding sessions every two and half hours.

Whatever your situation may be, having a baby that adamantly refuses the bottle is taxing on the mind, body and soul. I tried many different tactics. Some worked. Some didn't. And no one tactic worked right off the bat.

But after two months of persistent effort, I finally got my baby to take the bottle. So planning ahead is half the battle; the best weapon you can have is time. Many experts say, and even my own experience has shown, that trying to attempt this feat cold turkey can inflict unnecessary stress on both the baby and mom.

Here are 10 tips to coax your baby to taking the bottle.

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1. Try different bottles.

You never know which one your baby will like. Some babies like narrower, firmer nipples while others wider, more pliable ones. My child preferred the bottle I tried last ; the cheapest one, go figure. Though she didn't take the bottle right away, she chose one eventually.

2. Choose the right time.

Offer the bottle to your baby when he's ready to eat, but not ravenous. Not hungry enough and he may not bite, but too hungry and he may be too fussy to try something new. Choosing an optimal time is critical.

3. Give him freshly expressed milk.

You want to simulate the bottle-feeding experience as precisely as possible to breastfeeding. That means filling the bottle with freshly expressed milk (not thawed frozen milk), which will not only guarantee the same taste but the right temperature as well. Once your baby acclimates to the bottle, you can warm up frozen milk or vary the temperature. But make your first offer your best one.

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4. Try feeding in different positions.

Try sitting him upright, propped up at an angle, in a swing or in your arms. Breastfeeding is comforting for babies, so try cozying up with your little one while giving him the bottle.

5. Add a little bounce.

Even babies who hate car rides like motion in someone's arms. Try bouncing your baby gently up and down while feeding him. In order to do this, I used to place my baby in a carrier so I had a free arm to feed her. Or you can try feeding him in a rocking chair.

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