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Help! My Baby Won’t Take a Bottle!

By Kay on Thu, Apr 19, 2007

General, Memoirs, New Baby, Parenting Tips

Karis is most definitely the baby of the crew already and she’s only 7 months old! She has been exclusively breast-fed since day one with only a bottle or two of formula (when I was sick) during the first 6 months of her baby life.

Over the last few months, Shawn and I have been increasingly busy during the evenings and have found ourselves needing childcare for several events. Grandmothers to the rescue!!! Now, normally, I would tote Karis along with me wherever we went since she was still little and pretty easy to keep up with. But, over the last few months, she’s gotten bigger and needed more entertaining, and honestly, I just needed a break. So, about 2 months ago, we left her with Mimi for the evening for the first time. I made sure that I had pumped ahead of time so that she would still be getting the breast milk that she’s used to and gave Mimi strict instructions on it all. (Not that she needed the instructions – she has raised seven kids for goodness sakes – but, I needed to give the instructions for my own peace of mind.)

When we returned home several hours later, Mimi told us that Karis was not especially cooperative in the feeding department. She had tried every trick of the trade and wound up only getting a few teaspoonsful into her by using a medicine syringe. I wrote it off to being the first time she’d been away from me and figured she’d be fine the next time.

Only, the next time and the next time and the next time she didn’t do any better. Every time she would cry her little head off from being so hungry, but absolutely REFUSED to let anyone put that bottle in her mouth. She even pursed her lips to make sure they couldn’t even shove it in! 😛

Finally the day came where I had to admit that this was a REAL problem with Karis, not just everyone else that was trying to feed her. Like it or not, she was addicted to ME, and no one and nothing else would do. My confirmation came on the day that my friend had her baby.

Dawna had asked me months ago to help her and her husband at the birth of their baby at the same birthing center that I’ve had all three of mine. So, I had prepared by pumping and freezing breast milk ahead of time for the day of arrival. When Dawna called me on a Saturday night, I thought to myself that we would probably be okay since Karis sleeps through the night anyway.

I met Dawna at Nativiti in the wee hours of the morning and was priveleged enough to watch baby Maggie by born at almost 7 am. By 9 am I was calling Shawn to tell him the good news and to check on Karis. He told me that she had slept in (good news for him!), but that she was refusing to take a bottle from him. He promised to keep trying (different bottles, sippy cups, formula instead of breast milk, etc) and I promised to call back and check on them a little later.

By 11 that morning, Karis still hadn’t eaten even though Shawn had tried EVERYTHING and was getting progressively more and more worked up. I finally kissed baby Maggie on the head and left the birthing center to see what I could do. As soon as I walked in the door, she honed in on me like a high-tech weapon and wanted to NURSE!!! Needless to say, she didn’t let me out of her sight for the rest of the day!

The next evening I had a ladies’ meeting to go to, so I wound up taking her with me to make sure we didn’t have a repeat of the day before. By the time Tuesday morning rolled around, I was done. I needed some space and I knew that evening was our monthly Mommies’ Night Out. And gosh darn-it, I was definitely going to go out WITHOUT baby in tow.

So, I pumped. And then I gave her the bottle. She fought me hard for a good 15-30 minutes. She wouldn’t take the bottle. She wouldn’t take the formula. She wouldn’t take the rice cereal. All she wanted was to nurse and I wasn’t going to give in! She pursed her lips, jerked her head away, looked at me like I had betrayed her, and screamed. Finally, under much protest, she took the bottle. And I sighed a breath of relief.

The rest of the day, all I did was pump. I refused to nurse her, and only gave her bottles. By the time the afternoon rolled around, she was doing better and only mildly fighting me off when I showed up with bottle in hand. As soon as Shawn walked in the door after work, I heated up a bottle and handed it to him. I pleaded with him to try giving it to her so that I would know definitively if she would also take a bottle from him and allow me leave her at home.

The planets were aligned just right and she took the bottle!! There was great rejoicing as I ran to take a shower and go out for the night, SANS baby!!!

So, now I’m realizing the error of my ways and telling everyone breastfeeding infants smaller than mine to be sure to give their baby a bottle every once in a while, just for good measure. Of course, my husband is quick to remind me that if I’d been giving her a few sips of water out of a bottle every so often like the pediatrician suggested, we might not have had this little drama… oh well.

Written by Kay Hesketh - Visit Website

11 Comments For This Post

  1. kristie Says:

    I was giving my 12 week old atleast 1 bottle everyday and he just stopped taking the bottle. Now he wont even latch down on the nipple.

  2. Kay Says:

    Kristie,
    Sounds like you might need to put away the bottle for a little while until you can get baby latched back on to you. You might check out this article on babies who go on a ‘nursing strike’. It’s got some great suggestions on what to do to help baby get back to the breast. Good luck!

    http://www.breastfeed-essentials.com/nursingstrike.html

  3. JESSICA Says:

    i’ve been trying to get my 6mo to take a bottle. she refuses any type of nipple. it doesn’t matter if it’s breastmilk or formula. we’ve even tried water to get her used to it. no luck. it’s getting very frustrating! part of me wishes that we would have done just the bottle from the beginning.

  4. Alexandra Says:

    I’m having the SAME EXACT problem. My husband will be deploying next month & my mom is here to help for a little while. I’ve been trying EVERYTHING in hopes that my 8 mo. old son will take to something eventually so I can go out & do errands or just take a very much needed break occasionally. But of course…he won’t budge. He fights off everything as if it’s toxic! It gets frustrating, but I always end up feeling guilty & I’ll eventually give in.

  5. Nicky Says:

    My daughter is 6 months old, and we have been feeding her baby food and we still gave her her bottle. Just a few days ago she has started to refuse the bottle. Should I not give her her bottle and just give her baby food?

  6. Kay Says:

    Jessica & Alexandra –
    All I know to tell you is that persistence usually pays off. I’m convinced that the only reason Karis finally started taking the bottle was because I was more stubborn than she was. 🙂 Of course, if your baby is going through anything else (a growth spurt, a change in care givers, a different environment than he/she’s used to), you might want to table the issue for a while and try again later when life is a little more ‘normal’. Good luck!

  7. Kay Says:

    Nicky-
    I’m pretty sure your pediatrician would prefer that you continue to also give a bottle/nurse in addition to the baby food. Most things I’ve read suggest that you continue to give your baby formula/breast milk through the first year. Obviously, the more ‘real’ food they get, the less calories they’ll need from the formula/breast milk, but those are still vital parts of their nutrition at that age. Of course, you can always try moving to a sippy cup, or some other way of feeding formula/breast milk, if the bottle is particularly offensive to your baby. 🙂 Good luck!

  8. Ashley Says:

    I am breathing a sigh of relief knowing that I am not alone!!! I have built up a little collection of bottles with my 5 month old…she refuses! My first took to a bottle so well. I just want my boobs to myself now lol!

  9. Lindsey Says:

    I am no longer able to breastfeed so that is not an option. We started my baby on a bottle over two months ago and he did great. Just now he stopped taking it. He is losing weight and refuses to eat. My body stopped producing so I can’t go back to nursing and now my baby is starving. He will eat his solids but no bottle. What do I do?!?!?

  10. Kay Says:

    Lindsey~
    Is your baby teething? Sometimes when they’re teething, they tend to eat less. Generally speaking, babies are great at ‘self-regulating’ with food and will only intake what their body really needs. If you watch them over the course of a week or so, they’ll usually wind up having days where they eat more than others so that it all evens out over the course of that week.

    I’m wondering also if the transition to solids is causing him to just drink less milk. Is he acting hungry, or are you just thinking ‘he *should* be hungry by now’?

    Last thought – maybe it’s time to change nipples. Since I breastfed all 3, it was news to me when my friend said, “haven’t you changed her to a #2 size nipple yet?” I didn’t even know there were different sizes of nipples with larger and larger sized holes. May be that he’s just frustrated by the small amount he’s getting from a #1 size nipple and he’s wanting to eat more and faster.

    If he keeps this up and you’re really worried about his calorie intake, I’d definitely call the pediatrician to get their input.
    Hope this helps and that he starts eating for you SOON! 🙂
    ~K

  11. David Says:

    Our babay is almost 5 months old and we started her on cereal about 2 weeks ago. Since then she refuses to take the bottle from me. She still loves to nurse and will eat as much rice cereal as I’m willing to give her, but stubbornly refuses, in no uncertain terms, to take the bottle any more.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. How to Start Baby on Solids Says:

    […] If you’re breast feeding exclusively, please be sure to introduce a bottle sometime soon after nursing is established. If baby is used to taking a bottle every once in a while (even if it’s just distilled water), they will be more likely to take one on the rare occassion that you need to give them formula or pedialyte or even pumped breastmilk. (Trust me on this one – you can read more about my experience with this problem on this post in the archives…) […]

  2. How to Start Baby on Solids « The Mommy Journal Says:

    […] If you’re breast feeding exclusively, please be sure to introduce a bottle sometime soon after nursing is established. If baby is used to taking a bottle every once in a while (even if it’s just distilled water), they will be more likely to take one on the rare occassion that you need to give them formula or pedialyte or even pumped breastmilk. (Trust me on this one – you can read more about my experience with this problem on this post in the archives…) […]

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