How to fix nipple confusion… the easy way!

easy way to fix nipple confusion

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Can you fix nipple confusion? And is it even a real thing, or a scare tactic used by mean people to make your parenting as hard as possible?

Can you fix nipple confusion? And is it even a real thing, or a scare tactic used by mean people to make your parenting as hard as possible?

Yes, nipple confusion is a real thing. It’s a documented fact. It’s also personal experience with my first baby. Oh, the tears…

The good news? You can TOTALLY fix nipple confusion!

(Oh… and yes, it’s also a scare tactic that some people use. There are folks who believe babies should never use a bottle or pacifier. If you ask me, that’s not a sustainable lifestyle!!)

So what is nipple confusion exactly? And how the heck do you fix nipple confusion in a baby?

Well my friend, I’m glad you asked. Pull up a chair and let’s talk about it!

easy way to fix nipple confusion

What is nipple confusion?

The short answer is that nipple confusion is when your baby prefers drinking from a bottle over drinking from your breast.

The slightly longer answer is that your baby probably isn’t confused at all! You see, there are muscles in a baby’s mouth and face that have to be used to coax milk from your breast one tiny bit at a time… and it’s tough work.

But a bottle? Oh, a bottle is eeeeeasy! Milk is readily available and just flows out! The nipple has a generous size, gravity is on your baby’s side, and he gets lots of milk no matter how he latches onto that nipple.

So the problem here usually is less about confusion and more about preference. If your baby doesn’t want to nurse anymore, here are a few ways you can guide his preference from the bottle back to you. Follow these steps and you’ll fix nipple confusion in no time!

1. Keep Calm

Your baby didn’t develop a preference for the bottle in one feeding, and he won’t change his mind in only one feeding.

Don’t let that discourage you! It also means that one feeding isn’t going to make or break the future of breastfeeding for this baby. If either you or your baby feel frustrated or overwhelmed, you don’t have to press the issue at this very moment!

If he doesn’t want to nurse, and one (or both!) of you are overwrought, then give him a bottle and wait until you guys are calmer. Offer him the breast again later, once you’re both relaxed. Be sure to choose a time when he’s not overly hungry, but would be willing to eat!

This is going to be a process – and processes have a few steps. Some steps may move you forwards and some steps move you backward. Once you have more forward steps than backward ones, then you’re making headway. AWESOME! Just keep it up!

one feeding won't hurt when you need to fix nipple confusion

2. Maintain a healthy milk supply

While your baby is preferring bottles, be sure to pump so your milk supply doesn’t suffer from lack of use. (Here’s a breast pump I highly recommend!) You need to nurse or pump at every normal feeding time until he’s breastfeeding again consistently.

I don’t mean this as a threat, just a friendly warning: it’s easier to keep your supply healthy than to try to bring it back from the brink of death!

3. Revisit the latch

Imagine for a moment that your baby is a newborn again. Day number one. When you try to nurse him, pretend like he has no idea what he’s doing and really focus on getting the perfect latch.

Just like in the beginning, this may take a few tries. It might feel like you’re starting over at square one. But if little Mr. I-Want-the-Plastic-Nipples got used to not working for his milk, then there’s a good chance he won’t want to work at getting the right latch. Most likely he’ll just grab on any ol’ way – if he even tries at all.

Your breasts might overfill when breastfeeding gets out of whack. That is engorgement. If that happens, you need to express out a little milk so it’ll be easier for him to latch on. After all, can you imagine trying to suck on a softball? A bonus of expressing some milk first: your milk will be flowing more freely and might persuade him this is worth the effort.

4. Get your milk flowing

While we’re still talking about milk flow, think about this. One of the reasons babies prefer bottles is that the milk flows freely, yet it may take a few minutes (of slow drips) before mom’s milk lets down.

If you get your milk to let down ahead of time so he gets to enjoy the fruits of your labor, that gives you a leg up on the competition. Obviously, you don’t want to continue doing that forever…but until he starts showing a preference for the nipple again, it won’t hurt!

milk flowing to fix nipple confusion

5. Show Baby a good time

When you’re entertaining somebody, you pull out all the stops! You want to make sure they have a good time and want to come back again. Do the same thing for your baby! Make nursing as enjoyable as possible. Get some great skin to skin contact going, talk to him, sing to him, snuggle him close, and give him your undivided attention.

Then be sure to make bottle feeding less enjoyable. Don’t be depriving him of love! Just lay it on thick when you’re breastfeeding and lay it on thin when you bottle feed. That alone may inspire a preference for the love-fest that is breastfeeding!

A brief recap

Nipple confusion is definitely a real thing! It’s just been badly named. Your baby isn’t confused, mama. For one reason or another, he’s developed a preference. Your job is going to be to change his mind!

During the process, keep your milk supply strong and keep yourself and your baby calm. Because you guys being overwhelmed will only hurt your cause.

Then start with the basics of getting the right latch again, get your milk flowing before he latches on, and make sure nursing is as wonderful as possible for him. When you do these things, he’ll love nursing so much that if you ever do try to use a bottle… he’s gonna feel jipped!

Did you ever experience this? How did you fix nipple confusion? Please comment and let me know!

easy way to fix nipple confusion


1 thought on “How to fix nipple confusion… the easy way!”

  1. Nicole's signature
  2. Thank you so much for this write up. I have cried a river. But all you have written here is comforting. And I am grateful for it. Will keep trying.

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