When Baby Refuses The Bottle

When baby refuses the bottle, shove it in their mouth. Sort of. The milk, not the bottle. Let me explain the background on this one first. When my little girl was a month old, I was running on no sleep, no energy, and my husband was back at work. So, when he offered to do one of the night feeds for me so that I could get 4-6 hours of straight sleep instead of only 2-3, I begrudgingly agreed and bought myself a Haakaa to collect some of my milk. It went great! Fast forward to just over a month later, and bottles were apparently poison. Seriously, the screams coming out of this child sounded like death was imminent. As time passed, mama needed to get back to work, which meant bottles needed to happen. Hundreds of dollars spent later on different bottles and nipples, we finally found the solution. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.

Haakaa ‘pump’ that collects milk while baby nurses; works best in the first few months before starting solid foods.

Here is where the shoving advice comes from. In our extensive search for bottles that would work, we stumbled upon a brand of bottles that the base was soft silicone rather than hard plastic or glass. We quickly discovered that this was an amazing invention that allowed you to literally squirt breastmilk into baby’s mouth, in a stream that resembled the let-down. So, that’s what we did. In between the screams of hunger (and likely frustration), we squirted some breastmilk into her mouth, and let her swallow before beginning her broccoli cries again. Yeah, you know that whiny little kid voice that complains as they chew their vegetables “I… don’t… like… broccoli…” Yup, sounded exactly like that!

Alas, after a half a dozen sessions of this, she finally got the hint. This bottle meant food. Now they are her favourite and she fusses anytime she has to drink from anything else. Como Tomo saved the day!

the Como Tomo bottle with soft silicone base that squishes perfectly (comes in pink or green).

The irony is that she only started accepting the actual drinking function of the bottle when she started solid foods and early stages of teething because that’s when she started accepting non-boob things into her mouth willingly. The pacifier that was previously shoved away every single time was now being chewed all over (mostly the handle!), and bottle nipples became fun to chew on. She quickly learned that silicone in her mouth was fine, and resulted in some sort of good thing: teething relief, water or milk. At 10 months old, she will still happily drink water from the sippy cup, but much prefers those bottles for milk drinking. Even our daycare provider has mentioned her mild aversion to the medela ones, and won’t really drink until she’s transferred the milk into the pink silicone bottle. Go figure!

What we also found that helped transition her to the bottle more frequently was not heating it up before giving it to her. It was mostly an accidental discovery when my husband let her drink the last ounce from the previous bottle as a distraction while he heated another one and she gobbled it up happily and begged for more. He gave her the melted but not warmed freezer bag he was working on and same thing… She actually prefers to drink it straight from the fridge, which makes it way easier for everyone so no complaints here! It also helps create a larger contrast between mama feeding and bottle feeding so that she doesn’t cry for me when the fridge milk is presented to her. We do warm it up before bed though, in an effort to be more soothing and sleep-inducing (warms while she enjoys tub time).

So now that we’ve got the drinking part figured out, mama just needs to figure out how to fill them consistently. Pumping is hard work, and way different than the learning curve of breastfeeding. My heart goes out to you exclusive pumping mamas!


stephanie de montigny SdeM handrawn initials ottawa blogger
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