Baby Prefers Bottle to Breast: How to Reintroduce Breastfeeding

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Do you have a baby that prefers bottle to breast and has gone on a nursing strike?

Are you struggling with wanting to still have the option to nurse, but your baby just isn’t cooperating?

Maybe you’ve also tried and failed many times reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle.

I have been in the same boat!

I started out nursing exclusively, but that only lasted maybe a month. Which led to my baby only wanting to take a bottle and refusing to nurse at all.

Even with all of that stacked against me, I wasn’t ready to give up the idea of nursing just yet and so I had to find a solution.

Which is where the breastfeeding tips I have for you today came from and guess what, they worked! Hopefully they’ll help you out as well.

So mama, If you’re looking for a solution to this problem, keep reading to find out how to fix it!

Baby prefers bottle to breast.

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Why Breastfeeding is Worth the Work

According to the cdc, breastfeeding a baby until they are at least twelve months old provides your child with the ideal nutrition and supports growth and development.

There are also great health benefits for mom as well. Such as, lower blood pressure and less chance of sickness and disease for both mom and baby.

These are all wonderful and legitimate reasons for wanting to break your baby’s nursing strike.

However, maybe your main reason for wanting to reintroduce breastfeeding is the convenience of nursing on demand or the ability to drop a couple pumping sessions a day.

Or, maybe you’re reading this because you want to switch back to exclusively nursing after a period of pumping and/or combination feeding.

You may, like me, just miss the bond with your baby nursing provided.

No matter the reason, the struggle of reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle can be really frustrating for both you and baby.

Reasons Why Baby Prefers Bottle to Breast

Before we discuss some tactics to help you break your baby’s nursing strike, let’s look at some reasons why a baby would prefer the bottle to breast.

  • Baby was introduced to a bottle early on before a solid breastfeeding relationship was established.
  • Mother returned to work and baby is bottle fed most of the day.
  • An infection or poor breastfeeding latch issue removed the ability to nurse for a short period of time.
  • The wrong nipple was used and baby has become a little lazy.

The most common reason a baby would begin to reject the breast after receiving a bottle is that the bottle was an easier route to take.

A little further down, you will see which bottles and nipples are best for breastfed babies.

Furthermore, some women have slow letdowns or even too powerful of a letdown which can frustrate a baby. The baby may realize that a nipple and bottle are much less work for them and begin to prefer that over the breast.

Most of the time however, this nursing strike takes place when a baby has been given a bottle too regularly and gets confused when switching back and forth. 

The bottles listed below should also help eliminate nipple confusion.

Back to the Breastfeeding Basics

Before we go any further, I want to introduce you to a resource that helped me get back to the basics of breastfeeding. Because let’s face it – it can be easy for new moms to over-complicate things.

Simply Breastfeeding takes you through visual and real-life explanations of the fundamental breastfeeding techniques you may have missed in the beginning.

Maybe after watching this online breastfeeding class, you will have picked up on something you didn’t know before that ends up being a game-changer for your breastfeeding goals.

P.S. To further help you succeed at breastfeeding, I’d like to gift you my pumping and milk supply course for FREE if you choose to enroll in Simply Breastfeeding today. Just contact me to let me know you saw this offer and I’ll do the rest!

Breastfeeding Positions you will learn in an online breastfeeding course infographic image.

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Tips to Reintroduce Breastfeeding After Bottle

These tips helped me reintroduce breastfeeding when my baby developed thrush and had to be bottle fed for an extended period of time until it cleared. 

Needless to say, she quickly began to prefer the bottle to breast and the struggle began. However, I did have success with these tips and the nursing strike was lifted!

1. Start with the Nipple

As explained earlier, the type of nipple used on a breastfed baby can play a huge role in whether a baby will begin to prefer bottle to breast.

I recommend switching to one that has a slow flow nipple. Using a slow flow nipple will get the baby used to working a little harder for his or her milk.

This will make the bottle look a little less appealing when your baby is hungry and wants that milk ASAP!

2. Use a Bottle Designed for Breastfed BabiesBaby bottles comparison for breastfed babies.

  • Mam bottles were created for breastfed babies, they feature skin-soft nipples that make it less confusing for baby to switch back and forth.
  • Comotomo bottles also made the list as best bottle for breastfed babies because of their breast-like nipple shape.
  • Philips Avent Natural baby bottle because their petal shape nipple design makes for a more natural latch and similar feel to the breast.

3. Try Nursing When Your Breasts are Full, Before A Pumping Session

I noticed more success in getting my little one interested to nurse when my breasts were fullest and I would have a quicker letdown.

Another great tip, is to express a little bit of breast milk out onto baby’s mouth so they get a taste before they have to work for it.

My little one didn’t always last a full feeding like this, but it was good practice to get her more used to and comfortable with idea of nursing again.

4. Introduce Breastfeeding First Thing in the Morning 

Try nursing your baby when he or she first wakes up and lay them next to you.

If you co-sleep like me, this technique seems to work out pretty seamlessly. My baby is thankfully much less picky in the morning because that is when she is thirstiest.

Mornings are also when my breast milk supply is the most abundant. Which means, she will stay on longer to get her tummy full and it’s nice and quiet in the house, no distractions.

This is also why I wanted to reintroduce nursing again, the extra time in the morning to sleep in while I’m nursing her is the best breakfast in bed I could ever ask for!

Another plus, she always falls back asleep after this feeding for another thirty minutes or so. Need I say more!?

5. Nurse Baby in a Quiet and Distraction-Free Atmosphere 

It is much easier to attempt anything new with a baby when there aren’t as many sensory distractions.

Use could also try using a room you have had prior success nursing in. This could also be a nice opportunity for skin to skin as well which will help relax both of you.

6. Practice More Skin to Skin Contact

Skin to skin assists to create a more natural feel when nursing.

A bath is the best way to get in a ton of skin to skin with your baby and sometimes it’s an easier way to bathe them and relax at the same time!

Always be sure you are using non-toxic, baby safe bath products! I really like Tubby Todd for their organic baby wash and shampoos.

Skin to skin also supports hormones that are responsible for milk production. Which in turn, keeps your breast milk supply bountiful.

A great breastfeeding position to help get in more skin to skin is the laid back breastfeeding position.

7. Be Patient

Talk your baby through the process. By doing this, I found it really made a big difference in getting my baby to participate with nursing.

When I would stay calm and not get frustrated, she would also follow suit. I’d give her lots of “attagirls” when she would latch, even if just for a second.

Positive affirmations made the experience for her more enjoyable and she resisted much less at the next try.

One day, it all clicked.

She went from totally refusing to nurse to being completely ok with it.

I can now nurse her a couple times a day and get that bonding experience back I craved and a couple less breast pumping sessions too!

I hope these 7 simple tips to resume breastfeeding your baby also works for you!

Please consider giving yourself an enormous breastfeeding head start or an effective refresher by investing in Simply Breastfeeding today. In doing so, you will also receive my pumping and milk supply course for free ($19 value)!

Send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll reserve your seat for FREE in the Pumping Pro Course!

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Keep track of the last side you nursed with this FREE printable!

Printable breastfeeding tracker.

Download Tracker

Here’s a good read for moms experiencing breastfeeding discouragement: From Under-Producer to Overcomer: A New Mom’s Breastfeeding Journey

Final Words

We went over some simple solutions on reintroducing breastfeeding after bottle. Baby’s that prefer bottle to breast can put up quite a fight when you try to resume your breastfeeding plans.

However, if your goal is to once again nurse your baby and get that bonding experience back, you can!

Here’s a quick recap on the tips we went over today:

  1. Use a slow flow nipple to make the bottle less appealing.
  2. Introduce breast-like bottles. 
  3. Offer your breast when you are full and will have a quicker letdown.
  4. Try nursing first thing in the morning when baby is tired and relaxed.
  5. Nurse in a quiet and distraction-free room.
  6. Get plenty of skin to skin contact.
  7. Remain patient and positive!

Please Share!

5 Comments

  • How old was your baby when you managed to get her back to nursing? My son breastfed for first 4 months and then had a nursing strike we couldn’t manage to break. He’s 7 month’s now and we wanted to see if we could get him back to nursing now! Any more tips?

  • Hi Claudia! If I remember correctly, my little one was about 4 months when she would no longer let me nurse her. The longer they go without nursing, the harder it may be to get them back into it, but nothing is impossible with perseverance! I can’t really think of any other tips beyond what I already shared. I believe consistency and commitment to making it happen is what worked best for us! Good luck mama!

  • Hello, my baby is now 3 months old and he was originally a breast fed baby but once I had to have surgery to get my gallbladder removed so I could be breast feed him for 2 weeks after the surgery. I am now able to start breastfeeding him again but I’m afraid that he’s gotten so used to the bottle that he will refuse to eat from me. I have tried to pump as much as I could but I’m only getting about 2 ounces a session. I tried lactation cookies and lactation support drops in my drinks and lactation pills and nothings really helping. I hope these tips help a little more but if you have any other advice for me please don’t hesitate to contact me, I’m in desperate need of help. Thank you in advance. ❤

  • Hello Carlotta, thanks for sharing your concerns! From what research tells us, milk supply is dependent on removal, supply and demand. The more often and the more volume of milk removal, the stronger the signal becomes to our bodies to meet the supply demand. From personal experience, my current baby started out breastfed, but after a few bottles – he began preferring that method of delivery. He will only allow me to nurse him laying on his side at night, early in the morning or after a nap. He gets very distracted and will not focus on nursing anymore otherwise. However, your baby is a few months younger than mine and you may have a better chance of returning yours to the breast by adhering to a nursing routine, regular and often milk expression. You may also find this post on combination feeding helpful as well.

  • Hello. My daughter is 1 month from the beginning I have give her both breast and bottle. Now she cries if I want to breastfeed her. It’s making me so stressed. How can I ménage the. Even when she wakes up she wants bottle more that breas. She will stay starving better and crying rather than drinking from me.

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