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I’ve mentioned this briefly in several other posts, but M won’t take a bottle. It’s been very, VERY frustrating.
Let’s backtrack—we had a few issues with breastfeeding, but overall she got the hang of it pretty quickly. We introduced a bottle to her at 3.5 weeks (pumped milk), and gave her a bottle at 1 feeding every 2-3 days. She took it like a champ from the first time we gave it to her.
We thought we were in the clear for bottle refusal since we did everything right. We introduced it at the perfect time, she took it with no problems, and we kept up with it every few days. What could go wrong?
When M was almost 6 weeks she was napping, we had friends over, and mommy wanted a glass of wine. No problem, she had been asleep for awhile, so I decided to pump and have a drink, and when she was hungry I would feed her the pumped bottle. By the time she would want to eat again, the wine would definitely be out of my system. I prepared the bottle, and when she was hungry my husband attempted to feed her, just like had been doing over the past 2.5 weeks. I had already drank the entire glass of wine.
She screamed bloody murder, and refused the bottle. Hmm, weird. We put the milk in another bottle (same brand, Dr. Browns) in case there was a bad taste on the nipple or something else weird going on with that particular bottle. She did the same thing. I thought it was odd that she wouldn’t take the bottle, so I decided to try a different brand–I went with the Avent bottle. Same thing. Uh oh, what’s going on here? We were confused, but thought maybe it was a fluke.
We managed to keep her calm until I felt comfortable enough to feed her (different people have different comfort levels when it comes to alcohol and breastmilk, I typically wait about 90-120 minutes after a full glass to nurse). We didn’t think too much of this episode since she had taken the bottle with no issues previously.
We tried the bottle again the next night. Same thing—screaming bloody murder, and she absolutely refused to take the bottle. At this point, I started to get worried and turned to Dr. Google. Apparently, babies can start to refuse a bottle even if they’ve taken it with no problems in the past and parents gave one to them consistently. Yeah, we didn’t know that.
In the past few weeks, we’ve tried every suggestion I could find on google—I spent nearly $100 on different types of bottles (including Playtex, Tommee Tippee, Avent, Dr. Browns, Comotomo, and Mimijumi), we tried distracting her, giving her a bottle outside and in other different environments, we tried having me leave the house, we tried other people giving her the bottle—no luck with anything. The only thing left was to try a stand-off.
A stand-off is exactly what it sounds like. Someone (often the father or another caregiver) stays with the baby all day, and tries the bottle over and over again. The mother is NOT in the house. The caregiver comforts the baby when they are upset, and continues to offer the bottle when hunger signs are shown. Sometimes it may take 8-10 hours, but it often (though not always) results in the baby eventually taking the bottle. Well, we tried a mini stand-off for about 2 hours and we couldn’t take it any longer. M was SO UPSET and hysterical, and we felt like we were associating the bottle as a “bad” thing. So we stopped trying to get her to take a bottle for a few days.
We decided to look into other options—cup feeding, syringe feeding, how soon we could give her a sippy cup, etc. Since I will be working from home most of the time, she won’t have to feed from something else often, but we do need to feel confident that she won’t drive her caregiver nuts all day while I’m gone. It would also be nice to have a date night or a happy hour every so often without having her along, but honestly I don’t care about that right now.
Right now, we are trying a new technique–during the day. I start by nursing her, Then I pop her off, and offer her a very small bottle (I only put 1/2 an oz in the bottles..I hate tossing my precious milk!). I let her play with it, but as soon as she starts to act annoyed or fusses, I take it away and give her back the boob. Usually a few minutes later, I’ll try again. I’m trying to help her learn the bottle is not bad, it’s just different, and that we are fine with however she wants to get her food. At first, she would fuss almost immediately. Now, she plays with it for a few minutes and THEN fusses/acts annoyed. Progress. From what I read online, this works with most babies within 1-2 weeks. We’ve been doing this for 2 weeks now and haven’t seen much improvement. I’m going to stick with it, in hopes that she will eventually take the bottle when she’s hungry.
Something interesting though—since I’ve been trying this technique, M has started wanting to suck again when she’s tired. She did this until she was about 3 weeks old, and we would give her a (clean) finger and 5 minutes later she was over it that urge. We’ve never given her a pacifier since the finger worked fine. Then her sucking reflex subsided for nearly 6 weeks. Well, this urge has come back when she’s tired. So guess what I started doing? I started shoving that bottle in her mouth. About 75% of the time, it works. She is only getting a little bit of milk, but she will suck on that bottle until it’s empty, and seems very happy about it. I suppose this is progress, but she won’t accept it during a feeding, and she doesn’t always take it when she wants just to suck.
Sigh. I’m in a wedding on March 2, and we were not going to take her to the events but now we may have to. I have to go into the office for a full day twice in March, and those days concern me. Worst case scenario is that Will and/or my stepmom (they will be watching her on days I go into the office) brings her up to work 1-2 times a day to eat. At the end of March she will be 4 months, and the pediatrician seems okay with us trying to introduce a sippy cup if she’s still refusing a bottle.
Now I’m too good at breastfeeding.