This is a celebratory post for me. The last couple of months I have been struggling with my 6mo baby to take a bottle. She is the cutest baby, happy most of the time, and super cuddly. However, I could not be away from her for more than 2-3 hours at a time since she was born because she would refuse being fed with a bottle.
Breastfeeding with her went relatively smooth compared to my first baby, so there was no immediate need to introduce a bottle early on. We tried a couple of times in the first month, but she refused it and we let it go. There was no hurry to make her take the bottle and I thought it was just a matter of time for her to get used to it. What I didn’t expect was that it would take this much time!
I’d decided to apply for jobs and go back to work, but in order for me to go out on interviews and accept a job offer, I needed to feel secure that my baby wouldn’t starve being away from me all day. I know that it is unlikely she would starve, but I was feeling very stressed and didn’t want to leave her until I was sure she would be okay with bottle feeding.
Luckily, I have a few amazing friends that are moms and they gave me a lot of support. We shared our struggles and experiences on helping our babies transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding. There is a lot of information online, but it definitely feels better to talk to a person you are connected with, and that would give you a realistic perspective.
Good news is that last week, on my wedding anniversary, my baby accepted the bottle and drank a few ounces of milk with no fuss! What an anniversary gift! Thank you baby L!
Since it was such a struggle for me, and I am sure many moms are going through it, I will share what worked and didn’t work for my baby. Each baby is different and getting the right thing to work is a matter of ‘trial and error’. But if nothing else, this post may give you some ideas of what to try!
Some babies are picky about the temperature, and it was the case for baby L. Making the bottle warm, around 30-38 C, worked the best. Other babies may prefer it cooler, so try different temperatures and see what he/she likes best.
Not a good idea to introduce a bottle when baby is super hungry, they will get more frustrated and will associate drinking from a bottle as something bad. Some people suggest trying the bottle after breastfeeding, but this didn’t work for me, as baby L was already full and had no interest. When she finally took the bottle she was hungry, but maybe not too hungry – it was a couple of hours after her last feeding.
If the baby is fussing and crying too much, it is better to stop and try again later.
Leave the house
There are articles that say that the baby can smell the mom even if she is in another room, so they suggest you leave the house and let someone else try giving her a bottle. This would not work for me because I am alone with them most of the day and weekends are usually busy and I want to be around my husband and kids. Funny fact is that my baby would take the bottle from me better than from her dad. She tried to go for the breast first, but when she realized it wouldn’t happen she took the bottle (I mean, after a long long time trying!). If you can leave the house and let someone else try, go for it!
Switch between breast and bottle
I didn’t try that, because it sounded too stressful and kind of torturing the poor baby. Okay, torturing is a bit dramatic, but I can’t handle much crying so I tried to avoid it as much as possible.
Distraction seemed to work a few times. My husband got her to drink a couple of ounces (in 1 hour) by singing and rocking her while trying. However, distraction has also been a negative, such as when her big sister is around playing. Baby L stops everything she is doing every time she hears her big sister’s voice. A quite room is usually the best to get baby L to drink her bottle.
Bottle type and nipple flow
We tried 4 different bottles and three different nipples. A few people said that babies like faster flow because they can get more milk. This was actually the opposite for baby L. I started with #2 nipples which have 2 holes, then I tried #3. She hated them and she gagged. With #2 nipples she would drink 1 ounce and loose interest. Then, after reading more online, I realized that the flow was too fast for her. So I changed to #1 (1 hole) and it worked! She happily drank almost 4 ounces!
The bottle that worked for baby L and that we are currently using is from ‘Comotomo’, you can find it online. J always drank her milk from Avent bottles, but I think she wouldn’t mind other brands as she was used to take bottles since she was born. The difference between the bottles is more about the type of material that makes the nipple (in my personal opinion), so when you choose different brands, make sure they make nipples with different material.
Try a sippy cup
Before taking any bottle, baby L seemed happy drinking for a sippy cup. The one she liked didn’t have any valves and the milk flowed freely. The problem is that the milk came out too fast so she would swallow a lot of air and not drink enough. She didn’t like the fancy sippy cups that were spill proof or that she had to suck to get the milk out.
Breast milk versus formula
It is better to try breast milk in a bottle before you try formula (if you plan to give formula to your baby), so you know if she is refusing because she doesn’t like the bottle or the taste of formula. In the beginning, baby L rejected both but the first time she drank the bottle without fussing it was with formula, what makes me believe she doesn’t mind the taste.
In conclusion, for baby L, the requirements for a happy bottle feeding are: warm milk on a slow flow silicone nipple. I hope this was helpful and that you find the ideal bottle for your baby!
Happy feeding! 🙂