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The Bottle Battle



*I interrupt our regularly scheduled sleep post for one on bottles. Don’t worry. We will return to the Sleep Saga tomorrow. 🙂

Something I have not written about has been our bottle battle. When Sabine was born I was determined to breast feed. I am blessed to have had few problems with breast feeding. We had some early latch challenges due to Sabine’s tiny mouth, a serious case of mastitis and some really sore nipples, but after about 5 weeks or so things were going along smoothly.

My doula, lactation consultant, doctor and all my breast feeding friends all warned about early-on nipple confusion. I was instructed not to introduce a bottle until at least 4 weeks of age to make sure my supply was well established and to avoid nipple confusion. I followed these instructions, terrified that I would ruin our breast feeding relationship. After she turned 4 weeks I worried every time I gave Sabine a bottle and, because of this, ended up giving her very few.

At no point during my early breast feeding days did anyone warn me that I could end up with the opposite problem. No one said, “Hey Belle, if you don’t introduce enough bottles your baby will never take one.” NO ONE TOLD ME THIS. Around 12 weeks of age I ventured out for a few hours and left the Professor with Sabine. “Bottle is in the fridge,” I told him and off I went.

I came home to a screaming child and a very upset husband. She would not take the bottle. This has been the case ever since. We have tried everything. We have tons of different bottles, silicone and latex nipples, sippy cups galore, straw cups and a fancy “my first cup” cup. We tried spoon feeding, regular cup feeding and everything short of syringe feeding. Nothing worked. Today Sabine still only takes breast milk straight from “the milk maker.” She still will not take water and I am not introducing juice until she is older. Because of this I can’t be away from my baby for more than a few hours at a time. On Saturday I’m in class from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. I feed Sabine twice before I leave and then the Professor schleps all the way into Manhattan from the Bronx at lunch time so I can nurse her during our break. I spend all of Saturday evening nursing her. It is not an ideal situation but it works.

Lately the Professor has noticed that Sabine will drink tub water from one of our plastic cups when he bathes her. Gross, I know, but at least she is getting a little liquid the nights that I’m in school. Tonight Sabine had a delicious dinner of egg yolks, quinoa, carrots and peas. As always, we offered her milk from a bottle and as always it was rejected. Rather than toss the milk (I waste so much milk. It kills me) I brought it into the bath with us and instructed the Professor to let her try drinking it from their bath cup.

AND SHE DRANK IT. EAGERLY!!! Granted, quite a bit spilled into the tub, but quite a bit also went into her mouth, and then down the hatch. This is such an amazingly big step for us! From now on we will offer her milk at bath time from her bath cup. It’s a good place for her to practice messy drinking. I hope that in a few weeks she will perfect cup drinking and be a much tidier drinker so MAYBE she can go all Saturday without having to come all the way to Manhattan!



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  1. March 28, 2014

    Yikes, I’m sorry you never heard about the opposite problem. 😦 I had heard about both, so I was terrified of introducing too early OR too late, and of not doing it often “enough” to keep Stella/Harvey taking the bottle. With both kids we started bottles at 3.5 weeks and gave them at LEAST every other night from them on out (I went back to work at 8w) b/c I was so afraid of either of them rejecting the bottle and reverse cycling.

    At any rate, Dr. Brown’s bottles were the only bottles that worked for us with either kid. Also, when we did BLW (Baby Led Weaning) with Stella starting at 6 months, we also started giving her a shot glass (classy, I know) with water in it. It was perfect size for her little hands, and she loved controlling the drink herself. She has drank water/milk out of a “big kid” glass easily ever since!

  2. March 28, 2014

    We had this problem too :(. R never did take a bottle and only nursed. She wouldn’t drink breast milk or cows milk from a cup or bottle. At 14 months I quit nursing for our FET and she now doesn’t drink any milk at all :(. I hope Sabine continues to drink milk from a cup, that would make it all so much easier!

  3. March 28, 2014

    I was warned up and down about nipple confusion as well since I had to supplement with some formula at the hospital due to Ps blood sugar being a bit low. The nurse at the hospital used a small medicine cup to feed the formula to P and she drank from it. We tried it at home too but she would spill more on her than in her so we started to give her the formula in a bottle and I have been giving her at least one bottle of expressed BM or a combo bottle every day since. Luckily we have had no issues with nipple confusion and she still happily takes a bottle at bed time and when we are out an about and not in a place where I can easily BF her. Sounds like the cup will work well for Sabine and might even make the transition to sippy cups even easier later on 🙂

  4. denise100709 #
    March 28, 2014

    Brilliant Bath move, Belle!

  5. March 29, 2014

    Oh, girl. I wish I had talked to you so much earlier! I had the very same problem with my first daughter…except we never did find an alternative way for her to drink fluids, so I felt like we were tied at the hip until I weaned her. Glad you found something that works, though! It actually sounds like a pretty brilliant way to teach a wee one to drink from a cup. Way to go!

  6. March 29, 2014

    We had the same problem as you! Paxlet never did care much for bottles and hardly ever used one. Maybe 2-3 times and that was only at the point when he was so hungry and tired from crying. Other times he only played with the bottles making a huge mess. These day (19 mo) he does quite well with sippy cups and even much better recently with regular cups. Still lots of spills, but he’s doing better.

  7. Prairie #
    March 29, 2014

    Don’t kick yourself too much for Not introducing a bottle earlier. I primarily BF’d but did successfully give bottles when my son was young. Then he rejected them and all feeds had to be from the source for a number of months. So early bottle use doesn’t guarantee forever bottle use. Experimenting with location also did the trick for us. He’d take a bottle on the play mat but not in highchair or in arms. A soft nozzle sippy cup got him back to the bottle eventually.

  8. jesicabrennan #
    March 29, 2014

    At this point you shouldn’t even bother with bottles anyway, just move straight to the cup like you’re doing. We never really did bottles, he took like 3…ever. We just moved to sippy cups and regular cups. Also, don’t worry so much about her having milk while you’re gone, your hubs can give her solids and she should be all good at this age. If she doesn’t want milk when you’re gone just give her some other sort of snack, you’re well past when breastmilk is her only source of nutriition.

  9. March 29, 2014

    Tru is the same way. He took a bottle just fine from 2 days after birth onward but eventually I stopped giving him one around 3 months or so and now he completely refuses it. He will gag on it. He does like to take sips of water from our cups but its a messy process.

  10. March 29, 2014

    Oh man, i would have given you a completely opposite story. I asked the LC at the hospital about it and she agreed with two it would be good for me to periodically have a break (I was doing 16 feeds a day minimum). She recommended a specific bottle type (Avent with a side base to mimic breastfeeding) and feeding technique (paced feeding) and we introduced them at only a couple days old. I had someone do one feed per day typically so I could have a break. Of course every baby is different, but ours took to it like champs.

  11. jak #
    March 31, 2014

    firstly – sorry i have been such a bad blog reader!!!!!!! i miss your blog, but i’ve been so completely swamped that i can’t relax enough to read anything that isnt work related. it’s terrible and making me super anxious, so i decided to break the tension and sit down and read something for fun:)

    ha! so funny. glad something gave and you guys figured out a way to get some milk into the bean. perhaps one day she will also enjoy her beers in the bath tub like i do.

    i went back to work at 13 weeks, so we introduced a bottle around the same time (never before), but we didnt have a problem. my kid is a pig. apparently now at daycare, he cruises around the floor, stands up, and grabs the older kids’ sippy cups.

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