Breasts are amazing, cushy feeding machines that always serve milk at the perfect temperature and happen to be attached to your baby's number one person. Sometimes, though, you want to give your baby a bottle only to find them refusing it. But is there a reason why your baby prefers breastfeeding over a bottle? Turns out, it's not because they're just stubborn.
You probably have a morning routine. It might be something like wake up, pour a cup of coffee with a splash of soy — no sugar — read your Facebook, watch the news, brush your teeth, and get ready. As it turns out, babies are just as rooted in their routine as you are, even if they've only had six weeks to perfect it. To them, tucking into a warm, welcoming cuddle and having a nip from your breast is their coffee with a splash of soy. They've become reliant upon it and like the familiar comfort and satiety it brings, according to La Leche League. Trading all of that for a bottle may send them for a total loop.
But sometimes, it's a bigger issue than just an aberrant routine. According to the website for Dr. Sears, babies occasionally experience what is known as "nipple confusion." This is when their sucking reflex has not quite caught up to the change in delivery method of the milk.
The ease of flow from the manufactured nipple, combined with the difference in plasticity in the texture of the nipples, can cause the baby to be unsure of how to suck to get a comfortable amount of milk released easily, according to DrSears.com. While it's a difficult situation to deal with, it is resolvable, according to La Leche League International — it just takes a lot of bottle experimentation and patience. The website for Dr. Sears suggested feeding the baby when the baby is calm, and continue feeding the baby in familiar environments until they can go between breast and bottle smoothly.
According to Balanced Breastfeeding, a strong preference for breast over bottle is common among infants. I know it was with my son — he flat out refused bottles. It didn't matter who it came from or how cozy we made the environment, he wasn't interested. It eventually took us switching directly to a sippy cup at 6 months for him to start taking milk from something that wasn't the source.
There is some relief though. According to Breastfeeding USA, small changes in routine and environment, built over time, can achieve big gains and lasting results. It also helps to discuss this with a lactation consultant or pediatrician to determine if your baby is irritated or having genuine problems feeding — it can help to have a set of fresh eyes on the situation. Just know that this is a phase, however frustrating. I know I dealt with a lot of really strong emotions over this problem, and it can get to you. Please talk to someone if it's not working as well as you'd like. Breastfeeding is hard enough without any additional issues.