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Baby Whisperer: Weaning from Breast to Bottle

With Sharleen Poole

Introducing a bottle can be very challenging for some parents, depending on when and how they decide to start the introduction process.  Whether you are weaning your baby from breast to bottle or just introducing an occasional bottle the older the baby is when you start the more challenging it can become.

It is hard enough for mothers to wean their babies or to introduce a bottle when their baby rejects the new feeding style, especially if they are returning to work and when their baby will not take a bottle it adds an unnecessary stress to the situation.  I believe that if you know you have to return to work in a babies 1st year of life or for your lifestyle or baby you would like to have flexibility and support, you are best to introduce a bottle into a babies day or week from quite early on.  It is important from the beginning to establish good milk production and breast feeding practices but from 3-6wks is when I would think about introducing a regular bottle so that they can familiarize themselves with the foreign texture in their mouth.  I would always suggest that you start with expressed milk where you can and that you do so when you have no concerns with latching to the breast.  I have never seen a baby have 'nipple/teat' confusion if they have been started in the right way and when they are using the right teat.  It comes down how often a baby is feeding from either practice to what they are familiar with.

Step-by-step instructions (if appropriate)/the Baby Whisperer's tips

Introducing a bottle:

If you are returning to work within the first 3-6 months of your baby's life I would suggest introducing a bottle 1-2 x a week from 3-4 weeks of age, starting with expressed breast milk while your baby adjusts to the different texture of the teat.

If your baby will not take the bottle make sure of the following:

- Start with Expressed breast milk so that you know the babies is tasting something familiar and once they have got use the texture of the teat you can change over slowly to formula
- Offer bottle to baby when they are hungry, at the beginning of their feed, often the early afternoon feed is good to begin with after they have had a good midday sleep
- That you are holding your baby in a cradle position, holding them snugly and with confidence
- Make sure the milk is warm
- Rock, sway and use reassuring words "good girl, you are so clever" to help distract them and comfort them in the learning process
- Tap the side of the bottle to help encourage your baby to suck
- If your baby gets distressed, stop and try again the next day so as not to create a rejection from the beginning

Where to go for further info:

Sharlene Poole, Baby Whispering DVD, 0-3mths (

Little Miracles Postnatal Care Ltd (

Plunket (contact your local plunket nurse)

For Green to Grow bottles -

- Nature Baby Stores, Auckland (they stock the rubber teats that fit narrow neck bottles)