My 5-month-old daughter is normally breastfeeding. However, we are starting to bottle-feed her with milk from her mother.

When breastfeeding she does fine: she eats as much as the breast can provide and then relaxes, burps or falls asleep.

On the other hand, when bottle-feeding she sometimes keeps sucking after the bottle is finished, so she just gets... air. After a few times of hearing the sound of air going up to her body, I have the feeling that this is not going to make her feel better, so I try to remove the bottle from her mouth. However, at that moment she starts crying very hard as if I was removing her food.

Is there any way to make a baby notice that the bottle is done or should I wait until she notices herself, despite the amount of air she will "eat"?

  • 1
    You might try substituting a pacifier. If she still cries, it may be that she is still hungry and needs to be fed more. In any case, don't let her keep sucking down air...not good for her tummy. Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 18:17

3 Answers 3


Until babies do notice, the solution is just to gently remove the bottle, and either replace with another bottle if she still needs more, or let her suck on a (clean) knuckle or fingertip. You shouldn't let her just suck on air, as she will need to burp a lot, and until she does it could be uncomfortable for her.

Have you looked at how much you are feeding her? It may just be that she needs more at this stage.

  • 2
    You are right, this morning we gave her way more milk and she stopped even before the bottle was finished. So yes, it looks like she needed more food : )
    – fedorqui
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 17:22

Do you wiggle the bottle to get the last drops into the nipple? This alone can signal the end of the bottle, especially if you start wiggling occassionally before it needs to be.

I would also hesitate to let your daughter suck air. In all likelihood, she'll burp it up, but in a less desirable scenario, some of it will make it to the small intestines where she'll have more gas and might be uncomfortable.

One of the reasons the breast is so nice is that they do soothe themselves on it after the hunger has passed, long enough to let them realize the hunger is gone (kind of like eating quickly and eating slowly; you will eat less doing the latter.) When you remove the bottle, it's like taking her off the breast prematurely.

One thing we did was to make sure the nipple opening was only large enough to allow milk to pass with a bit of work on the baby's part. That helped to slow down the rate of feeding so the baby could suck to soothe as well. Making sure the amount of formula/breastmilk was adequate was important too.

If you burp in the middle of the bottle (like when switching breasts), this may decrease the crying at the end, as separation from the bottle isn't always associated with... nothing more.

Offering a bottle of warm water right away after feeding will allow her to suck if she feels the need, but the reaction when she realizes it's only water may be a bit dramatic as well.

Then there's the pacifier.

  • Good points! Funny thing is that making her burp in the middle of the bottle makes her be very nervous, start crying and eating even faster, so I try not to do it.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 17:23
  • By the way I cannot understand the downvote. It is an extremely useful answer.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 17:23
  • Downvotes happen for all kinds of reasons, often good ones. I don't let them bother me; I prefer to believe the down voter had a good reason. I try to look for it in my answer. :) Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 19:44

Babies have a need to suck. It brings comfort. Breastfeeding has the advantage that it delivers milk & satisfies the need to suck at the same time. Drinking from the bottle, while requiring effort, does not satisfy this need enough.

My daughter is a very fast drinker, so when she finished a bottle, she got a pinky or a pacifier. I do admit that for my daughter, once her need was met, she lost all interest in the pacifier.

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