It’s important to wait until your milk supply is well established and your baby is breastfeeding well before you introduce a bottle. This is usually at least four weeks after your baby is born. Be sure to introduce the bottle before you return to work, because some babies need an adjustment period. If you’ll be returning to work before four weeks postpartum, wait at least two weeks, if possible, before introducing a bottle.
Some babies adjust very easily between the breast and a bottle, while others refuse to have anything to do with it. Often finding the right type of bottle nipple is the key. There are a variety of bottle nipples on the market. Orthodontic-shaped nipples or nipples with a wider base are often well received. If you have a stubborn bottle-feeder, try pre-warming the nipple in warm water or using a clear silicone nipple that is softer than latex.
The size of the nipple hole is also important. Many breastfed babies are used to an unrestricted flow of milk. Sometimes it’s necessary to increase the nipple size to get a flow rate that is fast enough and won’t frustrate your baby. On the other hand, if the nipple hole is too large, your baby may gag or gulp.
Don’t wait until your baby is really hungry to start bottle-feeding. Learning a new way to eat isn’t compatible with a frustrated, hungry baby. If your baby won’t take a bottle after a week or two of trying, contact your healthcare team or lactation consultant.