Nipple confusion is a subject that leaves a lot of mums a little, well, confused. When babies switch between bottle and breastfeeding, they may experience nipple confusion and refuse to feed. This can be an extremely frustrating experience for both mum and baby.

Why does nipple confusion happen? Well, breastfeeding and bottle feeding both require different sucking and latching techniques. Breastfeeding requires coordination to latch-on correctly and your baby has to actively suck to get the milk. With bottle feeding, babies do not have to suck “correctly” or work as hard to get the milk. Problems may arise when your baby has become established with a particular feeding routine and a new technique is introduced.

There are different ways to deal with nipple confusion depending on the feeding method your baby prefers.

What to do if your baby prefers bottle feeding...

  • Go back to the basics and try breastfeeding again. Focus on skin-to-skin contact and proper positioning. It may take a few sessions, but your baby should be back on track in no time.
  • Get your milk flowing before feeding sessions either manually or by pumping so your baby doesn’t have to work so hard to get the milk.
  • Try breastfeeding when your baby is hungry but not starving. Your baby may not have the patience to latch-on if too hungry.

What to do if your baby prefers breastfeeding...

  • Have dad or another family member take care of the bottle feeding. Your baby may be apprehensive to take the bottle when you are around.
  • Keep trying different types of teats until you find one your baby likes.
  • Try to make your bottle feeding sessions as similar to breastfeeding as possible. Hold your baby close in a similar position, switch arms part way through the session and interact with your baby.

Deciding when to introduce a bottle ultimately depends on your lifestyle and preferences. Mums should not fret if their baby experiences nipple confusion. It’s most important to be patient and persistent and eventually your baby will settle into a new routine.

References What To Expect: Nipple Confusion / Ask Dr.Sears: Nipple Confusion