advert

Bottle Strike

Sep11

by

Dear Amalah,
I read your Sleep article today and… excellent advice. (To be honest, all of your articles are excellent. And also tend to induce fits of giggles. And coughs of horror. And I love cloth diapers. And I love my Ergo. So… yeah.) Anyway – I‚Äôm lucky enough to have great people offer to take the kid whenever and my husband ROCKS and helps out as much as he can, BUT… I‚Äôm stuck with night duty because the kid has a serious Boob fetish. I am doing exclusively breast milk (not because I am an anti-formula nutbar, but just because I can feed a small army with on breastmilk alone *deep sigh*) and I can pump litres and litres by just blinking at the stupid pump, but the baby hates anything that doesn‚Äôt come directly out of The Boob. She HATES bottles. Any tips for a mom who would love a night off? Am I stuck to the kid until she starts eating enough solids to get her through the evening? We‚Äôve tried having dad give her the bottle (she screamed). Grandma tried giving her a bottle while I was out (she screamed). I‚Äôve tried giving her a bottle (whoa, bad idea.) Am I doomed to sleepless nights despite having ample food supplies for the kid and a willing husband? Bah!
Thanks kindly,
Natalie

Ugh. I remember those days. Desperately needing a feeding or two off-duty, wanting a grown-up dinner date night out with my husband, crying in the middle of the night because of the double ear infection LEAKING OUT OF MY EYES, yet blindly trying to get boob to baby in the dark OMG HALP.
We never experienced the level of stubbornness you describe — if I may fly in the face of every breastfeeding expert out there, I think the whole “delaying the bottle until six weeks” often causes as many problems as it solves, especially for mothers who really, really NEED their babies to take bottles (i.e., going back to work) — but oh, there were days. Sometimes Ezra would take a bottle…sometimes he wouldn’t. I was adamant though; while breastfeeding was super-duper mega-important to me…so was my mental health and the occasional need to be completely selfish.
What worked for us was patience, persistence…and money. Yeah. Lots of different bottles, lots of different nipples and flow levels. I bought preemie-flow nipples because I didn’t want him to develop a preference for a faster flow, and this actually turned out to be pretty smart, if I do say so myself: if Ezra did have a preference, it was for the slower flow. So if you’re trying level one nipples, pick up some preemies. Or level twos. You just never know.
Some babies like bottles that mimic the boob, like Avent widenecks or the Adiri Natural Nurser. They might need the bottle-giver to wear their mother’s bathrobe or use the same blanket she uses while nursing. But other babies actually need bottlefeeding to be a very different experience — you might have more luck with standard bottles, a medicine dropper, a spoon or even…a cup. Try a soft-spouted sippy cup, or just a small open cup you already own. (Here’s an article about it.) Yes, it’ll be ridiculously messy, but a lot of mothers report that one or two times was enough for their babies to realize that oh, food comes from other places than Mama, and that’s okay.
If your husband and mother were trying to feed your daughter in a similar manner to nursing (i.e., in your usual rocker, using a cradle hold), try the opposite. Offer her a bottle in a different room, while she’s sitting up, facing them on their laps, or in her bouncy or high chair. If she’s expecting to nurse, she will want to nurse. Make the bottle its own “thing”, if that makes sense.
Ezra, of course, was a hybrid of the two approaches — he wanted a bottle as much like the boob as possible (preemie-flow nipples or the Adiri Nurser), but everything else had to be completely different. I could not give him the bottle. I could not be anywhere near him while he drank his bottle. He would not drink a bottle anywhere he usually nursed (which was a LOT of places). So Jason gave him bottles while sitting in this one chair in our living room that I never sat in, holding him mostly upright and facing out, while I hid upstairs doing awful, selfish things like…pumping more breastmilk. And we did this every day for a week or two (IT’S KIND OF FUZZY), until the resistance to the bottle was mostly a thing of the past. (Never force a bottle, of course — if Ezra screamed, we stopped. But then still tried again the next day.)
We also (gulp) had a lot more luck with formula than expressed breastmilk. Fresh breastmilk was okay, but he was about 1,000% more likely to refuse a bottle of thawed milk from the freezer. Which, of course, I had a ton of. I thought perhaps it was the lipase thing I’d read about and tried the suggestion of scalding the milk. It worked…sometimes. Other times he would still refuse to drink it. (Then we lost power and all the milk semi-thawed and smelled terrible and had to be dumped, but that’s a WHOLE OTHER THING.) I fretted about keeping a usable stock of fresh milk once my supply regulated and I couldn’t really pump much anymore…but Ezra never once refused a bottle of formula. Maybe, again, because it was just something “different?” I don’t know.
(Oh! Wait. I’m telling terrible lies, because I’m trying to recall stuff from a time of zero sleep: Ezra refused regular formula, but loved the organic stuff. [Similac Organic, to be exact.] I initially planned to never buy organic formula because I read about it being so much sweeter than the regular stuff. And then I totally freaking caved. Because it’s so much sweeter than the regular stuff. Which meant my baby might drink it. It’s definitely something to be aware of, but personally we’ve seen zero effect on Ezra’s eating habits. Noah never had organic formula and is INSANE for sweets, while Ezra thinks they’re okay, but would rather have some more peas. He also drinks regular older-baby formula now, and we had no problem making the switch back. The organic just helped with the initial bottle-acceptance hump.)
Good luck! Keep trying, and don’t feel guilty if this is really important to you. (It was REALLY important to me, frankly, and I think the occasional block of freedom [or just KNOWING I could potentially have that freedom] really helped me view breastfeeding as something I loved, rather than a burden.) (I know there are tons of women who report that their babies never ever ever once took a bottle for a solid year and went right to a sippy cup, and I salute them. While cowering behind the couch in terror.) Once we started solids the bottle thing became a total non-issue — food comes from cups and spoons and plates and it’s not poison! Who knew! Now every morning I curse my cupboard of expensive specialty bottles with a zillion parts that we bought out of complete desperation, because now the kid would drink milk from a garden hose.
*************************
Special Contest: Our friends at bTrendie, the sales event site (selling some of our fave brands like Ed Hardy, CloudB, Morgan & Milo shoes, and Tea at up to a 60% DISCOUNT), are giving one lucky reader a chance to win a Caden Lane nursery gift package (crib bedding, diaper bag & burp cloths… perfect for an expecting or new parent) worth over $500. Enter to win through this link until October 1.


advice_smackdown.png

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


Subscribe to posts by Amalah

22 Responses to “Bottle Strike”

  1. MommiePie Sep 11 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    Ugg! I remember those days well.
    I was a wreck for a solid two weeks trying to solve the bottle puzzle for my son who we were trying to prepare for daycare. (Sorry, kid but the babysitter is not a wet-nurse!)
    Anyway, we had luck with the old-skool Playtex nurser nipples (the brown ones) and also discovered that the real key to his satisfaction was the temperature of the milk. It comes pretty warm straight from the boob so we used a bottle warmer/steamer and spent a lot of time but finally figured out how to get it just right for him. I swear my son is like the baby bear from Goldilocks!

  2. Roberta Sep 11 at 2:26 pm Reply Reply

    We have one of the non-bottle babies. She drank from one just fine, with my husband giving her one every evening, until 2+ months of age, when she just quit. In retrospect, we probably should have kept trying with her. But I wasn’t going back to work, the screaming, hungry, mad baby was awful (she held out for HOURS), so we mostly gave up. In the last few days (at 9.5 months old now – I’m back to work, we have a nanny), she’s gone straight to a sippy cup, and drinks more out of that than she ever did out of a bottle. Would I have liked a break from all that nursing? OH. YES. So, yeah, keep trying, try all the different things suggested, and keep at it. Nursing can be lovely and all, but so can not being tethered to a baby, and going out with your girlfriends and having wine!

  3. Roberta Sep 11 at 2:26 pm Reply Reply

    We have one of the non-bottle babies. She drank from one just fine, with my husband giving her one every evening, until 2+ months of age, when she just quit. In retrospect, we probably should have kept trying with her. But I wasn’t going back to work, the screaming, hungry, mad baby was awful (she held out for HOURS), so we mostly gave up. In the last few days (at 9.5 months old now – I’m back to work, we have a nanny), she’s gone straight to a sippy cup, and drinks more out of that than she ever did out of a bottle. Would I have liked a break from all that nursing? OH. YES. So, yeah, keep trying, try all the different things suggested, and keep at it. Nursing can be lovely and all, but so can not being tethered to a baby, and going out with your girlfriends and having wine!

  4. Camille Sep 11 at 2:55 pm Reply Reply

    Our daughter was the opposite…took a bottle from my husband (stay at home dad) while I was on mat leave (I was out of the house), but fully boycotted all things bottle/sippy cup/finger nurser/regular cup once I went back to work (at 8 weeks). We have a tiny kitchen and also have an entire cupboard dedicated to rejected feeding aparatus (aparati?). We tried warmer/colder milk, different positions, different locations, different people, full moon, new moon…rejection. Our ped said that she’d eat when she got hungry enough, which may be true for some babies (and probably would have been true if I had been away for much longer than 8 hours), but she would refuse to take breastmilk from anything but booby….even when we had 90F+ degree weather in the NW where no one has AC. Wet diapers stopped, she wouldn’t sleep (pressumably because she was starving!) and was miserable, and my husband was ready to leave her on someone’s doorstep (not really). We didn’t want to give formula, and I’m fortunate in that I have a flexible job and work a mile from home so I went home to feed her 1-3 times a day when she was hungry. She still won’t take a bottle even though she’s older (6 months). We’ve just started her on solids although she’s not consuming enough to eliminate a nursing, but she loves “popsicles” made from frozen breastmilk in those mesh feeder things, which buys me some longer windows between coming home.
    So, maybe we catered her too much but she was/is determined and not a gentle crier…like in scream, turn purple, choke, repeat for a surprising length of time (2 hours and 36 minutes is her record…she’s really a treasure despite this!), and we were able to avoid this by adopting the routine that we did. So, I’m without a night off until she’s eating more, but I’m okay with this given the drama-filled alternative. I’m guessing not what you want to hear, but that’s our experience.

  5. wallydraigle Sep 11 at 4:00 pm Reply Reply

    Ugh. My daughter refused a bottle for three months straight. In the middle of Wisconsin winter. I nearly clawed my eyes out. She was totally cool with the bottle until the age of three months. Then she abruptly and vehemently refused to take it anymore. I had to come home early from one of my much-needed and rare days out with a girlfriend so I could feed the baby who hadn’t eaten in 6 hours (my friend lived an hour away).
    We stopped trying after a week or two. It just wasn’t worth it. Then, one day about three months later, I thought, “Well, maybe she’ll take it if let her hold the bottle herself.” And what do you know, she slurped that thing down in seconds. I kicked myself for the next week because she had probably been capable of doing that for at least a month.
    And now she’s the same with solid foods. I have to lay out a smorgasbord of finger foods on her tray if I’m going to get anything into her. If she has something to pick at with her own hands, I can get a few spoonfuls of the messier foods into her without her throwing a tantrum (at 11 months! gah!). The thing that sucks is that she’s averse to anything remotely mushy or wet. So that leaves cheerios, crackers and cheese pieces, basically (rolling things in crushed cheerios does not work). Oh, and any and every random object she finds on the floor, no matter how mushy. Little git.

  6. EW Sep 11 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    We also had a bottle strike around 2.5 months. We started offering her a bottle every day around 3 weeks (I’d also disagree with the usual 6 weeks advice — if breastfeeding is going well, I’d say it is often safe to offer a bottle sooner, and MANY of my friends never got the baby to take a bottle when they started that late). She took it reasonably well once a day every day, then suddenly stopped. She’d chew on it, hold it herself, she was even happy to see it (“Oh goody! A milk-flavored chew toy!) but she wouldn’t drink for anyone, even if she was at Gramma’s.
    At five months, when I went back to work, her Dad took over full time. We planned to bring her in to eat at lunchtime, but knew that she’d be hungry before I could get home, at 6 or 7 pm. The first long day, after she hadn’t eaten for 4 hours, her Dad tried the bottle, and she sucked down 6 ounces! So one piece of advice is to keep trying every so often even if it seems pointless.
    As to the question about night feedings, I’ve never tried handing off one of those, but we did have good luck with having Dad get her when she cried at night. Sometimes he could get her back to sleep, but more importantly, having him get her seemed to give her the idea that waking up might not be worth it, while if I got her, she definitely wanted a snack!

  7. Jen Sep 11 at 6:12 pm Reply Reply

    My older daughter refused the bottle. After trying a bunch of different bottles, we gave up until she was around 4.5 months old when we tried a sippy cup- bingo! We started with the small Nuby cup and then by 6 months switched to the 5 ounce Take and Toss cups. She was willing to drink breastmilk from the cup and starting at 6 months we also offered water when she had solids. At a year we switched to straw cups exclusively- mainly the Tkae and Toss ones.

  8. Two Wishes Sep 11 at 6:20 pm Reply Reply

    If you try bottles that mimic breastfeeding, I highly recommend Breastflow bottles. We had the opposite problem of low milk supply and a baby who vastly preferred bottle to breast, but the Breastflow bottles got her switching back and forth seamlessly. They even improved her poor latch on the breast. Seriously worth a try for anyone using both breast and bottle.

  9. Nicole Sep 11 at 6:25 pm Reply Reply

    I always said I wanted the poptart to take a bottle. So on day two of being home (and sleep deprived, and in pain because I’d been overdoing it after pushing out an 8lb 9oz bowling ball), we gave her an ounce of formula in a bottle. She gulped it down and passed out cold for a couple of hours.
    How it worked weeks 3-8: only dad could give her a bottle. She’d only take the boob from me.
    How it worked weeks 8-12: she’d only take food (boob or bottle)from me.
    Then one day, I went out. By myself and left her with Darren. I figured she’d eat if she was really hungry. Sure enough, she was eating when I got back. The instant she heard me she pulled off the bottle and wouldn’t go back on while Darren had it.
    Being the smrt (sic) people we are, we finally clued in that he could feed her so long as she didn’t see or hear me.
    And that is the way it is.

  10. Mouse Sep 11 at 6:56 pm Reply Reply

    My son hated bottles and would spend the day at home with my partner without eating anything and then nurse all night. Not fun combined with full-time work. We had a little success when we switched to faster-flow nipples, which made sense in retrospect. He might suck at a bottle for several minutes and drink almost nothing, but a satisfying feeding from me went pretty quickly–I’m a fast-flow mama. Of course by the time we made this switch, we also tried sippy cups (Avent had some soft spouts) and he preferred those.

  11. vhmprincess Sep 11 at 8:30 pm Reply Reply

    my cousin’s pediatrician told her, at the baby’s THREE MONTH appt when my cousin said she couldn’t get the baby to take a bottle, was that the optimum time to intro a bottle is 3 weeks and 8 weeks. Those are the best chances to mix boob and breast. SHE WAS PISSED BECAUSE HE KNEW SHE WANTED TO TRY BOTTLES AND HE DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING EARLIER. Every mom I’ve mentioned it to has had success at either 3 weeks or 8 weeks – I don’t know if it is coincidence or not, but a tidbit of info that
    a. that pediatrician believed in so much he WITHHELD THE INFO FROM BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS so they wouldn’t try bottles
    b. works with my small sample size of 5 or 6

  12. Kathleen Sep 11 at 10:25 pm Reply Reply

    I’ve got a bottle strike, too. I’ve tried everything listed EXCEPT the organic formula. He took a bottle fine at 4-6 weeks, and then we went on a vacation and didn’t give him a bottle for a couple of weeks. Bad move. 7+ months now, sort of drinking from a sippy cup or regular cup and eating some food while I’m at work (2-4 oz) and then chowing down when I get home. Still gaining weight ok, so… I guess it’s okay. But man, would I love to be able to leave the kid for a day (as in, when I have to go out of town for work soon?). Yeah. I keep eyeballing that Adiri wondering if he’d take it now, or if it’s not worth having to wean him from the bottle later. (anyone with thoughts on that?)

  13. Kathleen Sep 11 at 10:25 pm Reply Reply

    I’ve got a bottle strike, too. I’ve tried everything listed EXCEPT the organic formula. He took a bottle fine at 4-6 weeks, and then we went on a vacation and didn’t give him a bottle for a couple of weeks. Bad move. 7+ months now, sort of drinking from a sippy cup or regular cup and eating some food while I’m at work (2-4 oz) and then chowing down when I get home. Still gaining weight ok, so… I guess it’s okay. But man, would I love to be able to leave the kid for a day (as in, when I have to go out of town for work soon?). Yeah. I keep eyeballing that Adiri wondering if he’d take it now, or if it’s not worth having to wean him from the bottle later. (anyone with thoughts on that?)

  14. kari Sep 12 at 1:33 pm Reply Reply

    Jacks was like this. REFUSED to take a bottle. Not from me, not from my husband- NO BOTTLE!!!!! I thought that maybe it was the bottle, and tried several different methods and people to give. Nothing. I was finally at my breaking point when I had a bridal shower to go to. My MIL and husband suggested that I just go, and leave Jacks, and it would be fine. If he got hungry enough, he would drink. The shower was at 3:30. I was on my way home at 4:15. He was SO UPSET. I was SO UPSET. I finally broke. I NEEDED some time to myself. My husband was reassuring, and eventually, with persistence Jacks started taking a bottle from others. Eventually, he even took one from me! We had tried breastmilk, and formula. We were more successful with breastmilk. Don’t feel bad for needing time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It will get better.

  15. olivia Sep 14 at 8:07 am Reply Reply

    I watched a great breastfeeding video that recommended introducing a bottle at around 3 weeks, before baby gets too attached to the boob. We introduced our baby at 2 weeks because I had to go back to work at 3 weeks, and our baby didn’t have any nipple confusion.
    Uh, so I don’t have any suggestions….Good luck with getting your baby to take a bottle.

  16. Julie Sep 14 at 12:38 pm Reply Reply

    As always, Amalah has great advice! I went through this with my now 3-year old son. We tried everything – different bottles, nipples, locations, positions. It ended up being a combination of things – softer nipple, warmer milk (and occasionally the bottle-giver wearing my big fluffy yellow bathrobe – including my father-in-law!), but mostly it was just persistence (he finally started taking one after I was back at work for 2 weeks).
    One tip the lactation consultant recommended was to try with only 1 or 2 ounces until you find something that worked. That way, you aren’t dumping precious breastmilk down the drain because you can’t heat it up anymore.

  17. Natalie Sep 15 at 9:58 am Reply Reply

    Thanks for all the advice – everyone! I did manage to get her to drink a couple of ounces from an “orthodontic” nipple while sitting in a chair, but no luck since then. We’ll keep trying, but I’m one of those horrible Canadians, so I don’t have to worry about going back to work until she’s a year old.

  18. Jessi Sep 15 at 10:21 am Reply Reply

    We had to supplement at one week with my son and I was so worried about “nipple confusion” at that age. But all the nurses and doctors assured me there wouldn’t be a problem.
    And sure enough, there isn’t a problem. I’m back at work and my husband feeds him and I nurse him when I get home. It’s nice to pump and know anyone can feed him while we take a break by getting out of the house.

  19. Mary Ellen Sep 16 at 3:22 pm Reply Reply

    This is great advice and tips. I have twin 5 month olds. One on the bottle, one on the boob. The stubborn one is just like all the other babes described here. Screams her little head off no matter who comes at her with what bottle, regardless of what is in it! Just screams. And she took it fine for the first 8 weeks. We have wasted so much money on different bottles for her. I’m a stay at home mom, but desperately would like a break so we’ll keep tring.

  20. Leah Sep 19 at 2:19 am Reply Reply

    We have a no-bottle baby too (now 9 mo. old), and our solution was to just stick it out until he was ready for solids (4 mo.) and the sippy cup (around the same time). I know it can feel like forever when you’re in the thick of it, but soon enough you’ll have a kid who can eat more than just boob, and you won’t feel so hammered all the time.

  21. Shylo Sep 20 at 9:30 pm Reply Reply

    The Breastflows are great, but if no bottles are working, try a Hazelbaker Finger Feeder that you can get through Medela. It’s a little tube that you tape to your finger that connects to a bulb of milk. It is awkward at first, but it does work. The one drawback to the Hazelbaker is that it only holds 2oz at a time, so you’ll have to refill it mid-feed.

  22. Stella Jan 04 at 11:12 pm Reply Reply

    My son is 6 1/2 months old and I have had issues with bottle feeding since he was 2 months old. I feel relieved that I am not alone at all with this issue! We didn’t try too many things in terms of money. Fortunately, my work (which I started after the first month) is very flexible and let me adjust my hours when I realized that my son is just not adjusting to the bottle. What I would do differently is to give him the bottle after the first week or two, and give one to him once a day. My mistake is that I tried the bottle at 3 weeks. he took to it beautifully the first 3 times. Then (our mistake) we didn’t give him the bottle for a week or two. Ever since then, he has refused to take the bottle. Eventually he took the bottle begrudgingly after much screaming and sleeping from exhaustion (according to my husband0 2-4 oz. I didn’t want to, but to alleviate stress on all parties, he was fed solids at 4 months which he took a little bit while I was at work. Though some days, he still isn’t happy with anything but the “boob”. At 6.5 months, I’m trying all sorts of training cups. Just started, but hoping it will work better than the sippy cup (which flows too fast for him when he sucks) which has worked better than the bottle so far. Oh man. But it’s been alot better since he started solids, and even better now that he takes the sippy cup (despite the mess). It can only get better from here I hope :)

Like us on Facebook

Close