The Bottle-Refusing Baby

The Breastfed Baby Who Refuses to Drink from a Bottle

On rare occasions, I receive an email or a phone call from a mother whose breastfed infant refuses to drink from the bottle. Possibly she will be returning to work in a few short days, or perhaps she simply want to have a few hours to herself to go somewhere or do something other than having her kid, whom she adores, hanging from her nipple. A baby who refuses to take a bottle is a frightening prospect. Then you realize you’re staring down the barrel of several months of feeling “stuck.” You are troubled with the following question:

What if my infant refuses to drink from a bottle?

Whenever I am asked this question, I instantly go into a state of post-traumatic stress disorder. My child never drank from a bottle. I don’t recall the specifics since, well, I was a crazy, overworked, emotional, and stressed new mother myself at the time of the incident.

For example, one of the things I remember about this time period is that I bought every bottle on the market that purported to be “just like the breast,” even one that was physically in the shape of a breast. It seeped through my clothing and onto my flesh. I was wet to the skin. My memory is hazy as to when I began offering, but I do recall that when I went to work at the age of 12-16 weeks (again, I’m not sure when, okay?! ), Lucy was refusing to take a bottle. I’m not sure what I did to encourage her to take a bottle. I’m not sure why this is happening. It was at that point that my husband phoned my phone in a hurry and drove her 30 minutes to the hospital where I worked in Philadelphia so that I could come down and nurse her there.

People, cereal thickens breastfeeding, and I recall my mother attempting to feed her my thickened milk with a spoon after thickening it with cereal (yep, cereal, people).

A no-spill sippy cup filled with my breastmilk was offered to her, but I took off the portion that prevented it from spilling. After that, I assisted her in tipping the container back so she could pour it all over herself.

You’re probably curious as to what occurred in the conclusion. I resigned from my position. The feeling I had was that everything in my body was telling me that my baby just wanted me to remain home with her, so I complied with her wishes. In retrospect, it appears to have been a poor decision. I don’t regret it because I don’t regret anything in my life, but I do believe that this was the tipping point in a sequence of events that finally led to the dissolution of my marriage. I don’t regret anything in my life, and I don’t regret anything about this.

And, now that I’ve known Lucy since she was eight years old, I know she was entirely correct in her insistence that I leave from my position, and I was completely willing to comply with her requests. The other day, in the middle of a scuffle with my three-year-old, I genuinely shouted to her, “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!” I did this for the following three years until, in the middle of a throw-down with my horror of a three-year-old, I literally said to her, “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!” I continued doing this until, in the midst of a throw-down with my fear of a three-year-old, I literally shouted to her, Fortunately, for the most part, she will no longer be able to bully me. Don’t get me wrong, she has a similar appearance to her mother. If there is no one who will stand up to her, she will have her way no matter what the cost is to others or herself (she does it to her father multiple times a day). Consequently, I was not surprised when she began to bully me when she was only a few months old, as I had anticipated.

Obviously, I am a nursing expert… not a bottle-feeding expert… so take that into consideration.

However, throughout my years of dealing with other panicked mothers of breastfed kids who refuse to drink from bottles, I’ve observed something interesting. Bottle rejection has two key components: first, the reluctance to accept the bottle.

Confusion with an Artificial Nipple in Reverse (infant does not comprehend how to suck on an artificial nipple)
Obstinacy (Baby is perfectly capable of sucking on a bottle but will not do so since she understands that sucking on a bottle implies mother will not be around).
My kid was afflicted by a lethal combo of the two conditions.

Component One: By starting early, you may avoid reverse nipple misunderstanding completely.
Bottle-feeding should be practiced between four and six weeks of age; even if you are afraid or don’t want to, go ahead and do it. It is not necessary to completely replace a nursing session in order to do this. One option is to provide a small amount of breast milk and then end with nursing. The goal here is to ensure that your infant knows what has to be done.

This is a critical window of opportunity for teaching a newborn how to suck on something other than his or her nipple. If you do not take advantage of this opportunity, things will become much more difficult.

I also believe that babies who are used to sucking on a pacifier will have an easier time sucking on a bottle. For the record, I happen to be one of the few Lactation Consultants in the world who believes that pacifiers are perfectly OK to use during the first two weeks of a baby’s life as long as they are not used to avoid nursing when the infant is plainly hungry. To be safe, wait between two and four weeks after giving birth before using a pacifier on your child. The ability of a breastfed infant who suckers on a pacifier to transition from breast sucking to artificial nipple sucking is a crucial skill for her to develop if she is to learn how to drink from a bottle successfully.

At this point, it doesn’t matter who provides the bottle to drink from.

A one- or two-month-old just isn’t intelligent enough to distinguish between the two. A baby who is three months old or older, on the other hand, is not. At that point, she may only accept the bottle from mom if mom is out of the home, or she may only accept the bottle if she hasn’t eaten in four hours, or she may only accept the bottle if she is just waking up. Understand? Once they reach the age of three months, they become difficult to handle. As a result, get started as soon as possible.

You should not assume that just because you’ve determined that your baby can and will drink from a bottle that you can stop practicing with it. Just because your kid has consumed a bottle in the past does not imply that he or she will continue to consume a bottle in the future. Babies have relatively short memory, similar to goldfish.

Phase 2: Make an offer that is constant and persistent.
If you know your infant is capable of taking a bottle, that’s fantastic! To ensure that she doesn’t lose her ability to use the bottle, provide it to her a couple times a week. With a baby that is attached to her pacifier, you can probably get away with doing this once a week for the time being. In the case of a baby that does not sucker on pacifiers as readily as others, repeat these steps three times a week.

Please remember that if you do not want to use a bottle to replace all of your nursing, you may simply provide around one ounce in the bottle and finish with the breast.

However, I encourage you to use this time spent bottle-feeding your child as a chance for self-care. Make a special effort for yourself! Make time for the gym, grocery shopping, getting your hair done, and driving around by yourself in complete quiet. Take a little snooze. Allow your child’s father some space and time to get to know your child in a different way.

If your infant refuses to take a bottle, offer it as a substitute for nursing on a regular and persistent basis. To put it another way, that means almost every day. That is, enable the infant to become hungry enough to need the use of the bottle. That is to say, don’t give up as soon as things become difficult. A confused or a defiant baby—or both—are the opponents you must contend with.

How to tell whether your kid is confused or obstinate is as follows:
A confused infant joyfully wraps his or her lips around the bottle nipple, but he or she does not suck. It is possible that if milk dribbles out of her nipple, it may either spill out the side of her mouth or startle and choke her, causing her to cry and get disturbed. If this occurs, she will cry and become agitated. Initially, the befuddled infant will endure mouthing the delightfully delicious chew toy for a few minutes before crying and pleading with you to please remove the object from her mouth.

Even though this infant need consistency, a leaking bottle might be contributing to the issue. Initially, you may assume that this baby only has to comprehend that there is milk in the bottle before she will begin to drink; nevertheless, this baby truly needs to comprehend that she is intended to suck on the bottle.

My advise to this youngster is as follows:

Consider using a no-drip bottle that only releases milk when the baby suckes properly. This will prevent her from experiencing milk-choke before she is ready, and it will promote good behavior by rewarding her with a nice treat when she sucks correctly.

Medela’s Calma Nipple is a calming nipple.

Bittylab’s Bare Bottle is a minimalistic design.

A obstinate infant understands how to suck on a nipple with both hands. You’ve seen her do it yourself. She may even use a pacifier on a daily basis. She, on the other hand, freaked out every time the bottle is thrown at her. It is possible that if she is placed in a situation where she is extremely hungry and is offered a bottle, she will stubbornly drink only enough to alleviate her hunger (thereby demonstrating that she can in fact drink from a bottle), but will then stop and scream before finishing the remainder of it.

My advise to this youngster is as follows:

Consistency, perseverance, and a willingness to experiment are required. Something is causing her a lot of anxiety. Is it the one who is providing her with food? Because she has learned that food comes from her mother’s bottle, this newborn will occasionally only accept a bottle from her mother as a source of nutrition. What are you asking since she has learned that she will only breastfeed from her mother and will not drink from any other source? Is it coming from her father or from someone else other than her mother? Is it necessary to give it to her when she is in desperate need of nourishment? Have you only recently begun to experience hunger? When you first wake up after a nap, how do you feel? Is it possible that you’ve just woken up from a deep sleep? What is the best way to walk when wearing a sling? What if you’re in a nursing position, for example? What posture, whether in a bouncing chair or facing away from you, is diametrically opposed to the nursing position? Is it acceptable to drink milk that has the same temperature as breast milk? What is the difference between breastfeeding and when the milk is cold in this case?

Do you understand what I’m trying to say? Something will come to fruition in the near future. Now it’s only a question of figuring out what the problem is. Unfortunately, because your newborn is unable to speak, you will have to employ a number of techniques to get his or her attention.

Additionally, there are several “tricks” available on the Internet to get your infant to drink from a bottle. The majority of strategies entail purchasing items or fooling your infant into believing that mom is present by wearing a smelly shirt or something similar. Please don’t make fun of your baby’s intelligence, especially if she’s more than three months old. I realize I referred to the one- to two-month-old as a goldfish, but after they reach the age of three months, they become quite attached to their moms. They are familiar with her by heart, by scent, and by feel. Nobody will be fooled into believing that an Old Spice-scented daddy guy is a life-sustaining booby lady thanks to a stinky shirt.

A word of caution when purchasing nipples: Some individuals have had success in finding the one bottle that their child would accept, generally after spending $300 on each and every style of bottle. I’ve discovered that this is usually the most commonly tried trick, as well as the one with the lowest likelihood of success. Using a latex nipple, for example, has been shown to work in certain cases since the texture of the nipple is distinct from the rest of them. Since all of the nipples today are silicone, there aren’t many remaining on the market, but I have seen a bottle refuser accept a latex nipple, presumably because of the color and greater flexibility of the nipple.

I pray that the force is with you if you have a confused and obstinate bottle refuser on your hands. In order for your infant to accept a bottle due to the fact that you are returning to work, you must be constant and persistent with your efforts. If you don’t have a hard deadline, keep the following in mind:

Around six months of age, your baby will begin to eat solids and drink water from a sippy cup, albeit in a clumsy fashion. By the time your baby is nine to twelve months old, you will most likely be able to wean him or her off of breast milk for a few hours by providing him or her with solid meals. By the time your child is 12 months old, you can substitute full-fat dairy meals for nursing.

As a result, there is yet hope. After 14 months, I was able to return to my previous job. While I was abroad, my mother spent the most of her time looking for Lucy. The entire evening while I was doing other job, she ate meals from a plate and I believe she even drank some cow’s milk from a cup (I’m not sure about that). Everything else was down to just her and me, nursing constantly around the clock for the rest of the time. During the time she was weaned, I was a single mother, and Joe had a great deal of respect for our nursing connection, so he did not take her away from me overnight or on weekends for the vast majority of the time during that period.

Sure, having a kid that refuses to take a bottle seems like a death sentence, but it is heartbreakingly transitory to have a baby who requires your attention every few hours in order to survive. You’ll blink and your little one will be off to full-day kindergarten, staying the night at a friend’s house, or attending sleep-away camp in the blink of an eye!

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