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What to Do When Baby Refuses a Bottle

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Try Another Nipple

Babies can be picky about nipple shapes and sizes. You might have to try a variety of nipples before finding one that works best.

"Luckily, there are many different bottles on the market, so a parent has lots of choices," says Dyan Hes, MD, of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York.

Potock recommends cylindrical nipples with a base that's wide enough for baby to keep a successful latch with no liquid dripping from his or her mouth.

If your baby uses a pacifier, try a nipple with a similar shape.

Try different flow variations. A baby who's getting too much milk too fast may get overwhelmed. If it's coming out too slowly, your baby may get frustrated.

You can try a small medicine cup or sippy cup, even if he's very young.

Don't Force It

Let your baby explore the nipple with his mouth. But don't push it past the gums. That can irritate and frustrate your baby.

If your baby gets upset or doesn't eat after about 10 minutes, take a break. It's better to leave on a happy note than end with bad feelings about feedings.

Pass the Feeding Job to Dad

"Many times babies who are struggling to take a bottle, especially breast-fed babies, will not take it from mom," Shope says. The baby might resist even if he hears or smells mom nearby.

Let dad try to bottle-feed the baby, preferably in a different room.

"Often if the father, or anyone but the mother, offers the baby a bottle, he or she will take it," Hes says.

Get Help

Keep trying, and don't give up too soon. It may take a few days before it clicks.

But if your baby continues to have difficult feedings, loses weight, or isn't progressing, talk to your pediatrician.

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Reviewed on January 17, 2014

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