My 9-week-old has recently started to refuse to nurse from the breast. She will only eat from the bottle (pumped breastmilk).

She has successfully breastfed since birth, she also uses the bottle rarely, just on the occasions when her mother is away.

The breast is not too full for her to latch on. She drinks the milk perfectly fine from a heated bottle.

When we try to put her to the breast, she moves her head away and cries and won't latch on at all. But then, she will accept breastmilk from the bottle with no problem at all.

What can the problem be? And how do we get her to nurse from the breast again when she refuses?

  • 2
    I noticed that you've posted a couple of times and it seems that this is prob your first kid. No? I just wanted to offer you some words of encouragement: Don't worry (= The confusion of the first few months is the hardest for new parents, because you don't know and the kid can't tell you. after a while, they'll be able to communicate on a basic level. But you're seeking advice and doing what you can. soon enough, it will be fun and wonderful and much less stress. You'll make it! Even if I'm wrong about it being your first, congratulations and I wish you luck.
    – monsto
    Oct 2, 2011 at 18:55
  • You're right, it is my first. Thanks for the encouragement :)
    – Kyle
    Oct 2, 2011 at 18:57

5 Answers 5


Some nipples require less effort than nursing from the breast. Milk flows from some just by holding them upside down. In this case, the child only has to stop the flow by covering the opening with the tongue to rest or to swallow. Some children prefer this pattern to the sucking necessary for the breast.

Of course, the strength for later eating and speech is developed during the feeding process. As a speech language pathologist that works with children with feeding and speech problems, I would encourage careful selection of nipples and pacifiers. These devices should be carefully chosen to promote oral motor strength within the child's functional abilities.

The Avent Naturally Feeding Bottle is available in a variety of flow rates. It is an excellent nipple for oral motor development. It often works well for breastfed babies and they have soft spout cups that work well for transitioning to cup drinking later. I'm not sure what flow rate nipple you are presently using, but you might try going to a slower flow rate if possible to make your baby work harder since the hypothesis is that bottle feeding is easier than the breast.

You might research different nipples and find one that more closely matches the breast. You might try the Evenflo Classic Sensitive Response (silicone). This nipple works the cheeks and lips and is not for a baby with weak musculature. It does flow during pauses in sucking however.

I encourage parents to compare nipples and pacifiers by trying them. With careful experimentation, you can identify the subtle differences in effort, pattern, etc.

Of course, she may rebel against another nipple at first, but it may be worth the aggravation of changing.

  • We use Avent bottle tips, with one hole. The milk dose not drain simply by holding it upside down, but of course it is still less effort to feed from the bottle then the breast. And the point of my question was to ask how to get her back to feeding from the breast.
    – Kyle
    Oct 1, 2011 at 17:39
  • @KyleSevenoaks Your revision helped clarify your purpose. Thanks! Oct 1, 2011 at 17:43
  • @KyleSevenoaks I added more specific nipple information. I hope it is helpful! Oct 16, 2011 at 23:23

Many Hospitals in the US have Lactation consultants and this is all they do. We had issues with our second child that was stressing both the baby and the mommy out. The consultant came in and worked wonders for us.

Also check out La Leche League, an organization of lactation consultants: http://www.llli.org/resources.html

  • Unfortunately I live in Norway and we have no such thing, thanks though :)
    – Kyle
    Oct 13, 2011 at 22:10
  • 2
    Perhaps talk to your local hospital. They may have people trained on it, if perhaps called something different.
    – DA01
    Oct 13, 2011 at 23:04

Maybe switch bottles to something that is closer to breastfeeding, not the shape but the action? I read something about that on a site discussing Nuk bottles/nipples.

  • FYI:The Nuk bottle is the same as the Gerber bottle. I thought it might help to make this clarification if searching for this item. Oct 16, 2011 at 23:05

I think, it is much easier to drink from a normal baby bottle as to suck from the breast, so refusing the breast and preferring a bottle could just be more "convenient" for the baby.

I see that our situation was different, as our baby did not know at the beginning how to effectively drink at the breast (nipple confusion) while yours already knew it and someday seemed to refuse to do it.

We were recommended by a speech therapist (which also helped the baby learning to use its muscles for sucking by kind of a massage in the mouth and on the face) to use the playtex bottles (http://www.playtexbaby.com/Bottles/Dropins) which have a single use plastic bag containing the milk and are supposed to be as "difficult" to suck at as the human breast.

I'm not sure if they are also suited for your case or only for learning to suck at a breast, but at least they could be an alternative to the "standard" bottles which are mostly used and which make sucking much easier for the baby compared to breastfeeding.

For our experience with nipple confusion (most probably caused by very early bottle feeding during the first days) see my answer here: Can pacifier-use interfere with breastfeeding?

  • 2
    Your experience is consistent with research that "nipple confusion" is more likely by babies that have difficulty with mom's breast too and is not true confusion but rather difficulty with the process of sucking. No problems are reported here with sucking but more preference for the bottle. Rarely are midwives & nurses trained to address the problem. The La Lache League International <llli.org> is a site for lactation information. Oct 1, 2011 at 20:53
  • thank your for explaining. So I'll delete the midwife advice.
    – BBM
    Oct 2, 2011 at 8:31
  • Our child does not have nipple confusion. She just refuses to eat from the breast. She has breastfed and bottle fed since birth with absolutely no problem up until a few days ago. She was rarely bottlefed, just used bottle when her mother was away. Anyone else have something more useful to offer up?
    – Kyle
    Oct 2, 2011 at 14:17
  • @KyleSevenoaks: I'm sorry, if my experience is not useful for you. The intereting part could be (as Marie mentioned) that there are bottles which are more similar to natural breastfeeding - unfortunately I don't remember their name at the moment.
    – BBM
    Oct 2, 2011 at 17:18
  • @MarieHendrix, at KyleSevenoaks: I've edited my post and added the name of the bottles (finally found them) - however (sorry), I'm not sure if they might be also helpful in your case. At least it should be more difficult for the baby to get the milk out of them than "normal" standard bottles. Maybe Marie Hendrix knows better?
    – BBM
    Oct 2, 2011 at 19:27

Have you changed perfumes/soaps/other scented personal products? Soap leaves a residue. My wife accidentally washed her breasts with soap and our son had a similar reaction. She washed with water a few more times and it seemed to resolve the problem. We found that this la leche league book helped immensely in diagnosing those sorts of problems: "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" ISBN-10: 0345518446 ISBN-13: 978-0345518446

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