How on earth do you wean Baby to solids and formula if they refuse the bottle??

The mom in this Q&A needs to wean due to traveling soon, and we try to find a way. At least the baby seems to accept the solid foods introduction, which is a great first step. :-)

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Mom’s Question:
I have just started to wean my 5, 1/2 month baby from breastfeeding to bottle and solids, but he hates formula and the bottle. What can I do?

At the same time, I have also started to wean my son onto solids, and that seems to work! I chose to do this at five and a half months, as my family and I are going away on holiday in the first three weeks of October; otherwise, I would have left it until he was 6 months old.

I started him on rice cereal after his first feed in the morning for the first three days; then, on the third day, I introduced banana blended in the morning after his second feed, and then again in the evening, I introduced rice cereal for his dinner. I have found that he has not wanted his breast milk as much; he has already dropped two feeds, as he always had eight or more breastfeeds in a day.

The thing is, I have tried to see if he will take formula milk in a big bottle, but he does not want to take it; he wants me. I wonder if he would prefer a smaller bottle? Do you have any tips for me? As I am breastfeeding at home, not out and about, will he ever take to the bottle?

As I would like to start going out of the house for walks, will he ever stop wanting his breast milk? This will be a problem for me on holiday, as I don’t feel confident about breastfeeding in public, and I want to start to wean him altogether now. Will I ever get there?

Can you help me with some information and tips, please? Many thanks.


Breastfed Baby Refusing Bottle, But Eating Solids

Keep Going With the Introduction of Solids

First of all, I want to congratulate you on the successful introduction of solid foods! If your son is already, after only a few days, starting to breastfeed less, it means that he eats enough other foods to be content. That is certainly not the case for many babies when starting with solids!

For the solids, just keep going, but at a slow and relaxed pace. You can aim for a baby feeding schedule like this one over time and slowly start introducing new tastes and simple dishes (check out some stage 1 recipes here).

How to Introduce Formula And Solids at The Same Time When Baby Refuses

Introducing Both Solids and Formula May Be to Push It

Your problem is that your baby is eating solids but refusing the bottle. And actually, it may be that he also does not accept the formula, rather than just the bottle. In any case, he doesn’t like the idea of switching from breastfeeding to (formula) bottle feeding.

My first thought is that all these changes at the same time might be a little bit too much for your baby.

Starting to eat solid foods is a big step, and weaning from the breast to the bottle (with formula) at exactly the same time might be a little bit tough.

It sounds like you have a time limit for the solids and formula introduction due to traveling, and this is, of course, a more tricky situation than if you had simply decided to wean. If you can postpone the bottle and focus on the introduction of solids (since it is going so well), then do.

However, recognizing that you might not really have a choice but to introduce both solid foods and formula bottle-feeding at the same time, here are some ideas to help you out!

Tips to Get Breastfed Baby to Accept the Bottle

A few things you can do to try to make him accept the bottle are:

  • Start with feeding him breast milk in the bottle rather than formula. Either express breast milk by hand or invest in a breast pump. (Or borrow one from a friend; hopefully you won’t need a breast pump for long!)
  • Offer him the bottle while he is in his chair (or on your lap) for his solid foods (so that he doesn’t expect the breast).
  • If you do need to bottlefeed him on your lap, make sure the situation is at least as cozy as when breastfeeding. Cuddle, smile, relax, and keep him close.
  • Give him plenty of time to become familiar with the bottle – more like playing with it, although there is a little bit of formula or breast milk in it.
  • Try different bottles and nipples. Refusing the bottle is quite common for breastfed babies – so common that there are baby bottles and bottle nipples specifically developed for breastfed babies.

All this said it is entirely possible that your baby will continue to reject the bottle for a long time. In that case, you might want to consider a sippy cup if you really don’t want to or can breastfeed.

Tips to Get Breastfed Baby to Accept Formula

It may also be that your baby simply doesn’t like the taste of the formula. Experiment with different brands, and also try mixing an increasing share of formula in a bottle of breast milk if you manage to get him to accept the bottle with breast milk in it. (Or use a mixture of formula and breastmilk in a sippy cup and slowly increase the share of formula.)

Some breastfed babies seem to prefer ready-to-feed formula – don’t ask me why. My youngest son was like that, and I have heard several other moms say the same. Maybe it is something with texture.

Ready-to-feed formulas are more often expensive but very convenient for traveling or at night, for example.

Also, make sure the formula is the same temperature as your breastmilk would be.

Make a Plan B if You Want to Wean, But Your Baby Refuses Formula or the Bottle.

Relax! Decide for yourself that if he doesn’t accept the formula (or the bottle, or both), you have a plan B.

For example, you can pump and feed him the breast milk in a bottle, or you can reconsider breastfeeding in public. Babies often pick up our feelings, and if you feel pressured and stressed about him not wanting the bottle (or formula), he will get nervous about it, too.

I understand your stress and concern since your vacation is only a few weeks away. To take away some of the stress for both you and your baby, I think you should also consider if there is any way at all that you could become more confident regarding breastfeeding away from home.

I know that for some mothers, it is unthinkable, but it really makes life a lot easier! And trust me, it can be done without anyone even knowing for sure what you are doing if you practice a bit. (I’ve even breastfed in public in a very religious country once on vacation, but don’t tell anybody… :-) )

For tips on how to breastfeed in public in a discrete way, click here.

Last – even if you don’t think of it that way, you have already started to wean your baby from breastfeeding. That happened with his first spoon of cereal! Many babies wean to solid foods primarily rather than formula.

I think you and your baby seem to be doing just fine in the weaning process; he just needs some time. Continue offering him the bottle, but make some preparations to have a great vacation even if he still refuses the bottle. Never try to push him to wean. It will only slow down the process and make the feeding miserable.

You’ll find more bottle feeding tips here.

Good luck!

P.S. Moms, if you have additional tips for weaning baby to formula or what else to do in this situation, please share by leaving a comment below!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. new mommy

    Hi there,
    My baby is 14 days old & I breastfeed through the day and once at night, my husband gives him a bottle with 130mls of my breast milk for the other feed in the night but my baby still wants my breast afterward. Surely he can’t be still hungry? Maybe its for comfort but how can I stop him wanting my boob after a bottle at night, is it to early to introduce the bottle?
    many thanks in advance!

    1. Paula @ easybabylife

      Congratulations on your baby. Being only two weeks old, your baby’s feeding is still being established. Please don’t mess with it at all yet. It is excellent that he wants your breast and is able to suckle. Try to endure frequent feeding, whether it is for hunger or comfort. I know it is exhausting, but if you just wait a couple more weeks, you can try to introduce a pacifier after the bottle. It is possible that it is more the sucking need than hunger that makes him want your breast after the bottle.

      Also, learn how to breastfeed comfortably while lying down so that you can rest while breastfeeding at night.

      Good luck!

  2. Rita

    That is a lot of change at one time, starting solids and weaning off breast. Take it slowly! Try feeding from the bottle at a time that you are not feeding food. When my son was weaning off the breast, I found that he took the bottle better his first feeding in the morning.

  3. Kelly

    Hi Paula,
    many thanks for the information, on weaning from the breast to the bottle, it seems to be working for me, your tips.

    I have been offering my expressed milk in a small bottle and he has been playing with the bottle, and he has been taking it better after a day or two, he likes me too hold him in my arms when I feed him from the bottle, just the same way I breastfeed him. I still breastfeed him when he is in the bed with me at night, and then once in the morning, and then one more time before I get up before midday, I do this so it’s a sudden shock for him, and as a treat, for his emotions, and he loves this. Today I offered him his rice cereal mixed with pure banana, strawberry, and peaches and then blended it together to a mixed consistency and he loved it.
    He has only had one breastfeed today and I have expressed my milk into a bottle for him, already and he still has not had it yet, I’m impressed as to how the rice cereal helps fill him up and keeps him content, and how he has dropped so quick on his breastfeeds, the weaning onto solids is really working for me, also I’m very proud in how he is doing so well doing with this change.

    Thanks again, Kelly