Try These Simple Tricks When Your Baby is Distracted While Bottle Feeding!

Is your baby distracted while bottle feeding? Does your baby act hungry, but then start playing with the bottle or other stuff instead of feeding? Or, I love this one: does your baby drink 3 sips of milk, then act finished, but scream the moment you take the bottle away? 

When my daughter hit 4 months old, she got very distracted while nursing. Then around 7 months, she got too distracted to bottle feed . Every baby is different, but I hope my tips help you get through this!

If your baby is distracted while bottle feeding, I have three areas where you can make some changes, and lots of tips and suggestions!

tricks for when your baby is distracted while bottle feeding

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Why is your baby distracted during bottle feeding? 

Babies are constantly exploring the world around them! Around 4 months, your baby is starting to see things further away than the person feeding them, distinguish more colors, and connect sounds with objects. Now they’re becoming developed enough to look at something that’s moving or making a sound. And so they do, whether they are playing or you are trying to feed them a bottle! 

And your baby just continues developing! From around four months and onwards, your baby is becoming more mobile and will want to practice those mobility skills too! This means sitting up, turning over, scooting, standing, and more! At 7 months, my baby started being less distracted by sights and sounds, and more because she wants to play instead of eating! (Related post: this applies to bottle feeding too: Everything you need to know about baby behavior while breastfeeding.)

It’s helpful for me to remember that yes, my baby is distracted, but she’s also learning. And one thing she needs to learn is how to tune out distractions! 

Baby distracted during bottle feeding? Tip #1: Create a distraction- free environment

Creating a distraction-free environment sounds so simple, yet seems impossible! First, you want a dark, quiet place to give your baby their bottle. Personally, we use our nursery, but it can be any room, even a closet or the basement! 

Making the room dark stops your baby from looking around instead of feeding. To make a room dark, shut the door and close the curtains. You should not be able to see more than 18 inches or so from your face. This is approximately the distance from your eyeballs to your baby’s face when they’re propped in your lap for bottle feeding. 

Get blackout curtains if you don’t have them. I recommend these blackout curtains from Amazon. They really do block out all of the light, and are available in a variety of colors. Bonus – if you put them in the nursery, your little one may sleep in longer in the morning since their room is so dark that the sun won’t wake them up! 

Click the image to see more details on Amazon

And making the room quiet helps your baby not get distracted by every little sound. I know the mailman always shows up, or the dogs start barking as soon as my baby starts going to town on a bottle. I’ll close the door to the nursery, but I also recommend a white noise machine to help drown out louder sounds.  I use this white noise machine (click to view link on Amazon). It has a handy nightlight which is great for middle of the night diaper changes! Of course, you can always keep it simple by putting a fan in the room to make white noise, or download a white noise app on your phone!

Click the image to see more details on Amazon

If you can’t do these things for whatever reason, remove all the distractions that you can. Turn off the tv, tune the radio so it’s playing static, turn the ringer off on your phone, and so on. Think about the things that distract your baby and get rid of them- at least right before you begin each bottle feed! 

Tip #2: Make sure your baby is ready for a bottle! 

That’s right, if your baby is distracted during bottle feeding, there are things you can do beforehand to make them less distractible!

Wait until they’re definitely hungry

When your baby is a newborn, pediatricians usually suggest feeding your baby whenever they give hunger cues, like rooting, and sticking out their tongue. Now that your baby is a little older, see if you can distract them for a few minutes before starting the feeding process. I’d suggest no more than 15 minutes, otherwise you might have a baby who is too upset to bottle feed! Play with toys, change their diapers, sing a song, or read a book. The hungrier they are, the better they will eat! 

Tire your baby out with lots of active playtime to get them ready for a bottle

What milestone is your baby working towards now? Rolling over? Sitting up? Crawling? Walking? Make sure your baby gets some good physical activity in before you start bottle feeding. If possible, try to do it a bit before the bottle feeding, otherwise they may just get upset trying to roll, sit, crawl, or walk. 

If your baby is working towards rolling over, have some tummy time! Lifting their head and neck will wear them out. 

When your baby is learning to sit up, well, sit them up. Lie down and sit them on your chest. Spread their legs at different angles to work different muscles in their teeny tiny cores and backs. Hold out toys so they learn to keep their balance, even while reaching with their arms. I sometimes sit on the floor and sit my daughter on my leg and her feet on the floor so she can practice balancing that way too!

Once my baby could sit up, this baby jumper (click to view more details on Amazon) became a life- saver. My daughter puts her feet on the floor and bounces. The jumper lights up and plays music when she does. She gets excited just seeing the jumper because she has so much fun in it! We make sure she gets at least 10 minutes jumping around before feeding her. It’s also great because I can move her to whatever room I’m in and get something done while she bounces! 

Click the image to see more details on Amazon

Tip #3: Ways to keep your baby focused during bottle feeding

So now you have a dark, quiet room and a tired baby. Here are a few more tips for keeping your baby from being distracted during bottle feeding. 

Try again by redirecting your baby with the bottle! 

If your baby gets distracted, patiently offer the bottle again and see if they will take it. Sometimes it’s as simple as reminding them why they’re sitting on your lap!

Try a faster flow nipple on the bottle

Around four to six months, babies often feed more efficiently. Check for the next size up for the bottles you use. Here are links to medium and fast flow nipples for common bottle brands on Amazon:  

Help your baby focus on their new motor skills while feeding from a bottle! 

What position do you use to bottle feed your baby? Changing it up and making bottle feeding more active will help prevent your baby from being distracted while bottle feeding. I found that letting my baby sit unsupported helps a lot. She’s so busy trying to sit and drink from the bottle, that she focuses on those instead of playing.

Create your own distraction with toys!

My baby loves holding a small toy while bottle feeding. That way, she is more interested in the toy and  keeps eating, instead of whatever is going on around us! I wait until she has the bottle in her mouth and starts drinking. Then, I show her the toy or put it in her hand so she plays with it but keeps feeding from the bottle.  This means the toy shouldn’t be too distracting! 

I like using these silicone nursing beads from Amazon. Even though she can’t see them with the blackout curtains closed, my daughter touches and grabs them. They’re also good if we’re out and about and she needs a bottle, and we can’t find a dark, quiet place. Sure, they are called nursing beads, but there’s no reason your baby can’t play with them while bottle feeding!

Click the image to see more details on Amazon

Small toys like these bath toys from Amazon are great, they are soft and have some bumpy features that your baby will enjoy grabbing. Of course, anything you have handy can become a toy- a teething ring, a small comb, whatever! 

Click the image to see more details on Amazon

A lovey (click the link to see an example on Amazon) or stuffed animal also makes a great toy for your baby while bottle feeding. They can wave it around and whack you with it, and it won’t hurt!

Sometimes both of you need to take a break! 

Sometimes, my daughter gets extra distracted while bottle feeding and nothing will get her back on the bottle. I have two options. If I have time, I’ll say “okay, let’s take a break and get the wiggles out!” I’ll turn the light on and we’ll play for a bit, then try feeding again when she’s ready and showing hunger cues. It may take 10-30 minutes!

If I need her to eat right away, I say “I’m going to put you down now.” I put her in the crib and walk away for a few minutes. Usually she screams since the fun stopped and the food is gone! This means that as soon as I go back in and pick her up, she’s ready to eat again! And she eats heartily! 

Final tips if your baby is distracted while bottle feeding

Be patient! Your baby is learning and growing, which means experimenting with what they can do. By the time your baby is around a year old, they’ll likely be drinking from a sippy cup more than a bottle! One of my favorite pieces of advice for babies is “If your baby is doing something you love, enjoy it because they will grow out of it. If your baby is doing something you don’t like, remember they will grow out of it soon!”

Sometimes I get frustrated when my baby won’t feed from the bottle. But other times, we have super fun playtime with lots of laughing when we take a break if she’s distracted! 

Lactation consultant Kellymom has more great tips for teaching your baby manners while they nurse that also apply to bottle feeding! 

Conclusions: Simple tricks if your baby is distracted while bottle feeding

To wrap things up, we learned how to make an environment with fewer distractions and how to tire your baby out before bottle feeding. Then we talked about tips to use while bottle feeding: nipples with faster flow, keeping your baby busy trying a new feeding position, and simple toys they can play with while feeding from a bottle. I hope these tips help you as your baby grows.

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