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6 Ways to help baby transition from breast to bottle

It’s time for you to head back to work, and for baby to start spending a few days each week at your local early learning centre or with extended family.

It’s an exciting, worrying, and often emotional time, particularly for those families with a baby who refuses to take a bottle. A breastfed baby that refuses the bottle probably dislikes the foreign taste and feel of the bottle teat in their mouth. It makes the transition from breast to bottle overwhelming.

Here are some tips from the educators at Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure to help with the transition from breast to bottle.

Mimic the breastfeeding experience

Mimic the breastfeeding rhythm and flow by encouraging frequent pauses while the baby drinks from the bottle, just like when a mother has periods of let-down. Also remember to switch from one side to the other, as you would when breastfeeding.

Hold and cuddle your baby

Whilst breastfeeding, skin-to-skin connection is encouraged, so don’t stop this when feeding your baby a bottle. The contact benefits the baby physically, emotionally, and neurologically.


Prolonged elevation of prolactin in the attached parent stimulates the opioid system, heightening the rewards for intimate, loving family relationships. Consider a pouch or sling to keep baby close, the warmth and closeness of baby boosts hormones, as well as reducing the stress hormone, cortisol.

Interact while feeding

Gaze into your baby’s eyes as well as stroke and pat them, interacting with each feature of their face, hands and feet. Feeding for a breastfed baby is a full sensory experience. Mimicking this when bottle feeding makes the experience more fulfilling for both baby and the person feeding.

Avoid bottle propping

Instead of propping baby up somewhere in a bouncer or in their cot, pick up your baby and engage in the bottle feeding experience.

Hold baby upright

Breastfed babies might find it hard to pace themselves when bottle-feeding, because they’re used to controlling the flow of breastmilk. Sometimes these babies can end up drinking too much too quickly. To help make bottle-feeding more like breastfeeding, hold baby in an upright position and let them rest every few minutes.

The transition from breast to bottle can take some time. Try introducing a bottle at least two weeks before you’re due to return to work. This allows you both time to adjust.

For more support in the transition to bottle feeding and introducing your baby to the early learning environment, talk to an experienced educator at your local centre, who can help with the transition.

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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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