Do you struggle with a baby that doesn’t seem to have any interest in nursing? Usually, the quick fix is bottle feeding. But when you introduce the bottle you soon find yourself wondering how to fix nipple confusion.
When my son was an infant he refused to eat (he still does sometimes.) He was jaundiced. Before we were able to leave the hospital he had to eat, which meant the lactation consultant brought him a bottle…and cue the nipple confusion.
How to Fix Nipple Confusion
Bottle-feeding is easier for infants. They don’t have to work so hard to get the milk they want. From that moment, he did not want to breastfeed.
He cried. I cried. Fun times.
Affiliate links to the exact products I used are included in this post.
Then I decided to use a nipple shield to wean my newborn off of the bottle.
The nipple shield is a small piece of silicone that fits over the nipple. It is used for latch on issues or for mothers with particularly sore nipples. I decided to use it to reintroduce him to nursing as his latching and sucking abilities got stronger.
It feels similar to the bottle nipple and though my son resisted at first, he eventually figured it out. I let him nurse with the nipple shield for about a week.
After the first week, I let him nurse for a few minutes with the shield. Then I whipped off the shield and presented him with my bare nipple. He fussed. I put the shield back on and he finished nursing.
Keep in mind that I continued to pump and store milk during this entire month to retain my milk supply. I used these heating/cooling breast pads to help reduce pain and I sipped on Mother’s Milk Tea all day.
During each session I would take off the shield when he was nursing contentedly and try without it. Each time, I increased the amount of time he would have with the bare nipple.
I never said this process wouldn’t take patience! But patience is easy to find when you want your baby to breastfeed.
It took about of month of consistent trickery while feeding him, but he eventually did not notice when I took off the shield. By the end of the month, he only fussed when he was given the nipple without the shield at the beginning of the nursing session. After a few seconds of having the shield, I could take it off without an issue. This part of the “training” took the longest to overcome but he finally began to take the nipple without the shield.
I had several shields so that I did not have to take the time to clean and sanitize it after each feeding. This helped during the late night/early morning hours. I found that the easiest way to clean the shields was by using these microwave steam sanitizing bags.
For many new moms, once their child refuses the nipple or has can’t latch on, the protective instinct kicks in and mom just wants her baby to eat. I get that. But I also know that nipple confusion can be overcome. I am not a lactation consultant (yet) or an expert at breastfeeding by any means–but I do know that this worked for us.
If you want to breastfeed your nipple confused baby, don’t lose hope. You can do it. It takes time and patience but you want to know how to fix nipple confusion for a reason. For some great information on breastfeeding, be sure to check out La Leche League International.
Have you experienced nipple confusion? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!
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Irish Danielle Hallegado says
Hi! My daughter is 2month old and 20days. My husband and mother tried to use bottle in feeding my baby so I can go back to work. After several trials (about 10-15times), my daughter still refuses the bottle so we stopped giving it to her and go back to direct breast feeding. However, after days of stopping the bottle, she started refusing my breast. She would go wild, cry out loud or bite my nipple. She somehow will feed but not the usual as she would. Sometimes, she prefers sucking her hand or my arms. But when I offer my breast, she gets mad. She also started missing her usual feeding time (every two hours) I still can’t figure it out how to bring back her normal feeding. I am also concern of her milk intake since she’s feeding less than the usual.
My two month old son had a hard time to latch on correctly so at 4 weeks old I use a shield until about 8 week to get time for my nipples to heal. One day I use a bottle ( I have to mention he try the bottle a couple of time as a newborn and didn’t had any issues going back to the breast) so one day I had to use the bottle meddela calma bc my milk supply had slowed down. Anyway now he refuses to take my breast . It’s a big fuss and cries.
Ill try the shield again and try your tips. Thanks for sharing. It’s important for me to continue breastfeeding, i hope it works.
It’s rough when breastfeeding doesn’t go as easily as expected. I hope he starts latching again. Thinking of you!
I have a ten days old and I got an advice from the nurse to speed up my milk production by pumping and of course, I was not warned about giving it with bottle. And my daughter has started the bottle that way and I found myself in this nipple confusion. I am so hopeless now and literally cry on every nursing session. I feel guilty and failure. I have no idea about this since this is my fourth baby and I am supposedly an experienced mom. I am now avoiding the bottle and ( she did not like the pacifier) insisting on breastfeeding. However she is so stubborn. Even though I use the techniques for correct latch, she pull herself back and try to get her mouth on the bottle position. I am hoping it will not take as long as your did. Thank you for sharing your experience.