How can I find a bottle nipple my breastfed baby will actually take? Transitioning to a Bottle

iStock.com/BelindaPretorius


iStock.com/BelindaPretorius

For some breastfed babies, it can be a bit of an uphill battle to get them to take a bottle. And a key part of that battle can be finding a bottle nipple they can get used to. Thankfully, moms and experts have helpful insight on how you can find the nipple design and model that works best for your babe.

Try a Slower Flow Nipple

"Many companies are manufacturing artificial nipples that mimic a mother's nipple. You should aim to purchase a few and trial them. Your goal should be to find a nipple that requires the infant to work toward getting the milk by suckling rather than it gushing into the baby's mouth with little effort. A slower flow nipple mimics a breastfeeding experience." -- Maria Lombardi, MD, a pediatrician at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network,...

"Many companies are manufacturing artificial nipples that mimic a mother's nipple. You should aim to purchase a few and trial them. Your goal should be to find a nipple that requires the infant to work toward getting the milk by suckling rather than it gushing into the baby's mouth with little effort. A slower flow nipple mimics a breastfeeding experience." -- Maria Lombardi, MD, a pediatrician at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, Valhalla, New York

Type Doesn't Matter as Much as Consistency

"Most babies do not have any problem with the addition of a bottle once they become pros at breastfeeding. The type of nipple is not as important as the consistency of using it. If the baby refuses it from Mom, she may let Dad or another family member have a try. Remember to burp more often [when bottle-feeding], since bottles let in more air. If Mom is the only one home, she can try mimicking the position of breastfeeding by holding the infant snug and in the breastfeeding positions the...

"Most babies do not have any problem with the addition of a bottle once they become pros at breastfeeding. The type of nipple is not as important as the consistency of using it. If the baby refuses it from Mom, she may let Dad or another family member have a try. Remember to burp more often [when bottle-feeding], since bottles let in more air. If Mom is the only one home, she can try mimicking the position of breastfeeding by holding the infant snug and in the breastfeeding positions the baby has become accustomed to." -- Jill Creighton, MD, pediatrician, Stony Brook Children's Hospital, Stony Brook, New York

Give Baby Time & Keep Trying

"If you're breastfeeding exclusively and want to feed your baby breast milk through a bottle or transition to formula feeding, it may take a period of trial and error to find a nipple that's right for your infant." -- Lisa Liu, MD, physician at Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, assistant professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Melrose Park, Illinois 

"If you're breastfeeding exclusively and want to feed your baby breast milk through a bottle or transition to formula feeding, it may take a period of trial and error to find a nipple that's right for your infant." -- Lisa Liu, MD, physician at Loyola Center for Health at Gottlieb, assistant professor of family medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Melrose Park, Illinois 

Use a Nipple With a Wide Base

"Try to use bottles with nipples that have a wide base to them. Babies with a good latch on the breast normally flange their lips. I found that a wide base on a bottle nipple helps to keep your baby used to properly latching, so he/she doesn't get confused between breast and bottle. Also, when you tip the bottle upside down, make sure the nipple doesn't leak. A fast flow can bloat your baby's tummy and make him/her used to getting milk right away without having to work for it. Then, they...

"Try to use bottles with nipples that have a wide base to them. Babies with a good latch on the breast normally flange their lips. I found that a wide base on a bottle nipple helps to keep your baby used to properly latching, so he/she doesn't get confused between breast and bottle. Also, when you tip the bottle upside down, make sure the nipple doesn't leak. A fast flow can bloat your baby's tummy and make him/her used to getting milk right away without having to work for it. Then, they might start to get fussy at the breast when letdown doesn't occur right away. My son takes well to bottles made out of silicon and are soft and squishy like a breast. They also have the wide base at the nipples that I mentioned."

Have Someone Else Feed the Baby

"Trying to get your breastfed baby to take a bottle can be difficult. It's a try-'til-it-works kinda thing. In my experience, one nipple may work for some babies, but not others. Try to have someone else feed the baby the bottle since they relate booby with mommy. Baby may not give in at first, but they are smart enough to eventually eat from it when they are hungry enough." 

Find One That's Soft & Shaped Like the Real Thing

"Look for nipples that are soft -- a lot of popular 'breastfeeding-friendly' ones are pretty hard -- and shaped like your nipple and encourage a wide latch. I've found that small nipples can cause latch issues; they just make them open their mouths so differently. Only buy one at a time until you find one that works. I suggest going to a store with a lot of options, where you can actually feel and look at the nipples." 

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.