There are a number of options for feeding baby when you are unable to directly breastfeed – a bottle is only one of them. If your baby is older than 4-6 months old, consider going straight to a cup. If your baby is younger than 3-4 weeks old, consider avoiding the use of a bottle for a couple of reasons:
- regular use of a bottle instead of breastfeeding can interfere with mom’s efforts to establish a good milk supply
- bottle use also increases baby’s risk of nipple confusion or flow preference
Following are some resources for alternative feeding methods.
- Tips for bottle feeding the breastfed baby
- How to bottle-feed the breastfed baby
- Baby-led Bottle Feeding from NurturedChild.ca
- Boosting Bottle Feeding Bonding – 5 top tips… from AnalyticalArmadillo.co.uk
- The Babe’s Guide to Bottle Feeding by Fleur Bickford, BSc., RN, IBCLC
- Bottle Feeding Breastfed Babies by Tanya Lieberman, IBCLC, with Amy Peterson, IBCLC
- Bottles and Bottle Nipples that Minimize Nipple Confusion or Flow Preference from LowMilkSupply.org
- New thoughts on using bottle nipples with breastfed babies (PDF) from Lactation Education Resources
- Bottle-feeding as a tool to reinforce breastfeeding (PDF) by Dee Kassing, from J Hum Lact. 2002 Feb;18(1):56-60.
- Tips for encouraging your baby to accept a bottle
- Offering Your Breastfed Baby a Bottle by Becky Flora, BSed, IBCLC
- Tips on Offering Bottles by Paula Yount
- Guidelines for Introducing a Bottle to a Breast-Fed Baby by Marianne Neifert, MD, et al.
- Introducing Bottles and Pacifiers to a Breastfed Baby by Anne Smith, BA, IBCLC
- Helping a Breastfed Baby Accept a Bottle from Lactation Education Resources
- Tips for combining breast and bottle feeding
- Combining breast and bottle feeding by Anne Smith, BA, IBCLC
- Partial Weaning & Combination Feeding @
- Should I use a bottle if baby is refusing to nurse? from “Help — My Baby Won’t Nurse!” @
Cup, dropper, syringe, and links with various methods
- Alternatives to bottle from AskDrSears.com
- Alternative Feeding Methods for Breastfed Babies from Lactation Education Resources
- Refusing a Bottle: Dropper & Cup Feeding by Paula Yount
- Finger and Cup Feeding by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
- Cup Feeding from the Breastfeeding Committee for Saskatchewan
- Cup Feeding Instructions and FAQs from foleycup.com
- Cup Feeding Video using the Medela SoftFeeder, from Breastfeeding.com and Medela (also shows a paladai)
- Comparison of the Safety of Cup and Bottle Feedings in Premature Infants Whose Mothers Intend to Breastfeed information on study by Kathleen A. Marinelli, MD, IBCLC; Georgine S. Burke, Ph.D; Virginia L. Dodd, MS, RNC. The full article can be found here.
- Feeding by cup, paladai or spoon (see p. 206 of PDF file – note that this file is very large and will likely take a long time to load if you have a slow connection) from the WHO document Managing Newborn Problems: a guide for doctors, nurses and midwives.
- Physiologic Stability of Newborns During Cup- and Bottle-feeding by Cynthia R. Howard, et al., from Pediatrics, Vol. 104 No. 5 Supplement, November 1999, pp. 1204-1207.
- SoftFeeder Instructions from Medela
- Finger and Cup Feeding by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
- Finger-Feeding with a Feeding Tube from the Breastfeeding Committee for Saskatchewan
- Finger-feeding a Preemie by Jude Kurokawa, CNM, from Midwifery Today, Spring 1994 (No. 29)
- Finger-feeding a Preemie – A Follow-up Letter by Linda Killion Healow, RN
- Finger feeding with an SNS and caution re: finger feeding with an SNS by Kathy Kuhn, IBCLC
- Nursing Supplementers from Notes from “Induced Lactation and Adoptive Nursing” @
- Lactation Aid (nursing supplementer) by Jack Newman, MD
- Using a feeding tube device at breast can be frustrating and fiddly. Why bother? by Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC
- Breast Feeding with a Feeding Tube from the Breastfeeding Committee for Saskatchewan
- Nursing supplementer comparison (Lact-Aid & SNS) by Darrillyn Starr
- Transitioning baby from formula feeding to breastfeeding @
includes links to information on reducing supplements and transitioning to the breast from bottles, nursing supplementers, Haberman feeders, etc.
After 4-6 months, there is really no need to introduce a bottle — babies this age can generally handle a cup just fine (expect to help out in the beginning, though). If you need to, try different types of cups to see what works best for you and baby: regular cup (try different sizes), sippy cup, no-spill sippy cup, cup with straw (or a cup with a built-in straw), and sports bottle are all options that different babies use.
Occasionally a baby will refuse to drink from any type of cup or bottle. In this case, try feeding baby breastmilk with a spoon, dropper or syringe. If baby has started solids, mix the solids with lots of breastmilk. You might also try a momsicle, ice cream, yogurt or a smoothie made with breastmilk.
- Introducing a sippy cup by Paula Yount
- How My Child With Down Syndrome Learned To Drink From A Straw Cup from NoahsDad.com. These are great tips for anyone teaching baby to use a straw.
- Momsicles – Frozen Breastmilk On A Stick by Paula Yount
- Breastmilk recipes