Transitioning a baby from breast to bottle feeding can be a challenging moment. Studies have shown that up to 30% of parents have reported feeding difficulties in their children. Do you know your baby can go on a bottle strike? Various reasons might cause a baby to play with the bottle instead of drinking.
Reasons That May Make a Baby Play With Bottle Instead Of Drinking
Your Baby Might Not be Hungry
Trying to bottle-feed a baby who is not hungry may prove to be an uphill task. They might instead bite or chew the nipple or even knock down the bottle. The solution might be feeding your baby on cues. Do not feed them if they haven’t shown signs of hunger, and don’t force a baby to finish on their milk. If you have any concerns about their feeding, you can consult a pediatrician for further advice.
Dislike of the Bottle
Breast-fed babies will tend to hate the bottle. They may not like the artificial nipple as much as the breast. A new bottle with a different nipple can also cause a baby to resist drinking and play with it. Babies may want to play with the bottle until they familiarize themselves with the discovery. A bottle that has a nipple that resembles a breast can help them adapt faster. Check on the milk flow, too much or too little may make a baby resist bottle feeding.
Teething can cause soreness, discomfort, and pain in a baby. To improve their feeding, try and offer lukewarm milk, just like breast milk, and provide a nipple that is not rough to avoid injuring the already sore gums. Being patient with the baby as they feed will help you navigate through this challenging period. You can also try latex nipples; they are softer than silicone ones. Some babies have an urge to chew on anything. Get him a chewing toy to reduce the urge to chew and bite on the bottle.
Babies are super active beings. Infants may not differentiate between play and feeding time and thus may want to play even with the bottle. To counter this, progressively introduce a feeding program the baby will identify with. Try feeding them in a quiet room free from toys or other distractions. Doing this consistently will help them associate feeding with quietness and adapt to the routine.
When a baby is unwell, they will probably not feed properly. Feed the baby through other means until they get back to good health. Nasal congestion also prevents a baby from breathing through the nose and thus makes it difficult for the baby to breathe and feed using the mouth simultaneously. In such a case, unclog the nose before you start feeding him.
As babies grow, they want to discover their surroundings and any slight noise or movement distracts them. They will not concentrate on the feeding; they will instead start playing with the bottle. To avoid such distractions, feed your baby in a quiet, boring place.
The Temperature of the Milk
Babies are accustomed to warm breast milk. Feeding them cold or hot milk can make them fail to drink but instead play with the bottle.
Preparation of the Milk
When using formula milk, be sure to use the recommended measures. The wrong measurements can alter the taste of the milk, and your baby can refuse to drink it. Taste the milk before feeding to ensure it does not have an awful taste or smell. This would be a turn-off to the baby. Avoid reheating expressed milk more than once it alters the taste. You could also try mixing formula with breast milk as you start the weaning then reduce breast milk as the baby gets used to the bottle.
A tired baby might not bottle feed properly. The baby becomes sluggish and may want to kick off anything that would prevent them from resting, including their bottle. You might want to allow them a nap before feeding to avoid crying and fussiness caused by tiredness.
Tips to Ensure the Baby Does Not Play With the Bottle
- Find out why the baby is refusing the bottle. As discussed above, several factors can make a baby resist the bottle. Study and understand to get a solution to the root cause, if need be consult a pediatrician.
- Choose the right bottle and nipple for your baby. Nipples made of latex are soft and therefore preferable for younger babies as they mimic the breast. Babies who have gas issues may do better with a bottle that has a filtration system. Purchase a bottle that is easy to use and clean too.
- Provide a fresh supply of breast milk as often as possible. Freezing and thawing alter breast milk taste. Change the formula if the baby has a problem with it. If you don’t like its taste or smell, get a different one.
- Offer the baby milk at the right temperature, just warm.
- Give smaller, frequent portions. It will help the baby finish the milk without stress.
- Change the feeding environment. It might help the baby relax and be able to feed. Take the child away from the playpen to avoid distractions and the urge to play while feeding.
- Establish a feeding schedule. Set a time and place to feed the baby. He will not adapt immediately, it takes time to develop a habit.
- Be patient. Every baby is unique, and so is their feeding. You might get frustrated when comparing your baby to their sibling or another child.
- Withdraw the bottle at the recommended age of 12 months at most, 15 months, and give a sippy cup.
In conclusion, bottle feeding can be challenging when the baby plays with the bottle instead of drinking. Patience coupled with good bottle-feeding practices might help you handle the situation. This is not a unique challenge, so relax unless there are health concerns.