Will My Baby Ever Drink From a Bottle?Shari Bruno, Certified Lacataton Consultant
Q I have been breastfeeding my ten week old son. At 6 weeks we started giving him a bottle of expressed breastmilk 1-2 times per week. Those feedings went fine. It took him a little while to get the hang of the nipple each time but he'd get the hang of it. Now we are trying to give him 1 bottle per day in preparation for my return to work in 2 months. These feedings have become a battle. My husband is giving him this bottle in the evening when he gets home from work, but my son doesn't want the bottle. He just cries and cries. We calm him down (often requiring a pacifier) and try again. He cries again.
He moves his tongue around but doesn't successfully start sucking. Sometimes he gags but this is after he's been crying and not eating. Eventually he will take the bottle but this can take 2 hours from start to finish. We had been using Avent newborn nipples. Two days again we tried an Avent nipple with 2 holes in it. My son was very relaxed and took the bottle right away. I thought we had found the solution! My husband stopped to burp him and when he tried to start again the crying ensued. Should I try other bottles? Is there a way to tell if he is rejecting this particular nipple, or just doesn't want any bottle? Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. We all dread these bottle feedings. Tonight we skipped it just for a breather. We were able to enjoy ourselves without the stressful feeding. I have to go back to work. Will my baby ever take a bottle?
A The difficulties you're experiencing are normal and somewhat expected when trying to introduce an artificial nipple to a breastfed baby. There are a few things you can try that might help:
Don't be in the room, or even within earshot when your husband is trying to give your son the bottle. Your son relates you and the breast and if he knows you're around he'll be less likely to accept the bottle, he'll simply hold out for you.
Do NOT be the one who give him the bottle, most especially if you're putting expressed breast milk into it. Bottles are much easier to operate than the breast and if your son realizes he can have the benefits of the milk he enjoys from Mom, without having to do the work that comes with nursing, he may stop nursing altogether. Always make sure that someone else is giving him the bottle.
Wait until he's hungry but not too hungry. If he's frantic to eat he'll be less likely to accept any alternatives. It's also easier to give him a bottle if he's drowsy.
Try warming the nipple under warm water first, he may be rejecting the colder feel of the bottle nipple.
You may have to try several different nipples before you find one he accepts, so don't get discouraged if this doesn't work right away.
Unfortunately there isn't any one bottle nipple that all breastfed babies will take to without a fuss. Your baby, as tiny as he is, is still an individual with very definite likes and preferences, so you're just going to have to hit on it by trial and error.
Also, your son may not successfully take to the bottle until you're actually back at work. Even then he may still try to hold out for you and not eat while you're gone. If this happens do not worry, just nurse him when you get home for as long as he likes. He will not suffer any malnutrition from this and eventually will take to the bottle and fed from it when you're not there.
If you work an erratic schedule where you may be gone on different days every week or different times then it will take him a bit longer to get the hang of the bottle. The important thing is to remain consistent and to always have someone other than yourself give him the bottles.
A source you may find helpful that directly tackles the difficulties of the working nursing mother is "Breastfeeding & the Active Mother" by Lillian A. Pfluke, published by WRS Publishing in Waco, Texas. You can probably find this in your local public library.
Click here to Ask Shari your questions
Shari is the mother of 4, ages 11 months to 13 years. She is a LLL Certified Lacataton Consultant. She provides all mothers who want to breastfeed with information and encouragement.
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