How long should I keep trying the bottle?

(84 Posts)

The age old problem - I'm back to work in a few weeks and my ebf 4 month old baby has flatly refused a bottle for the past few weeks. I have been in the house each time we've tried, and my health visitor has said that I need to leave the house entirely and let him cry it out, and he'll eventually take it. I was out for four hours tonight (DS usually feeds every 2 hours...) and my DH said that DS cried solidly for those 4 hours, refusing and refusing the bottle. My question is, how long do we carry on like this for? When do we draw a line under it? Another HV suggested using a sippy cup, which is messy and time consuming, but a viable alternative (tho possibly not in the eyes of our poor childminder.) my last month with my beautiful DS is being ruined by this dilemma. Any advice appreciated.

Teacher, that's really good to know about the cup, because I'd been wondering when he would become proficient enough with it to sustain himself with milk. So that would be a couple of months after I start back at work, so if all else fails I can muddle through with food and BFing at night and in morn for two months and then switch to sippy when he's big enough to manage it. I think it's so cute that your LO will only drink it if he's holding it, they get independent so quickly - I very much see DS as my tiny baby still, when in fact he's growing and adapting really quickly x

teacher123 Mon 03-Dec-12 17:06:19

I know, it's ridiculous how independent he is becoming! He very much knows his own mind... (Don't know where he gets that from!) I think keeping persevering is the way forward, DH took DS into town this afternoon and DS drank all of the milk in his cup (about 125ml) in one go, holding the cup by himself. He's suddenly got much more confident at sitting unaided, and he can now coordinate to get the cup into his own mouth, so I think a bit of leaving him to it is called for!

That's great! I have good news too - my mum arrived at 2pm from down south, and by 5pm she had got 60ml of formula down DS with no fuss at all, using the sippy cup. So that's the 4pm breastfeed stopped, just like that! I know he's meant to be taking about 180ml in one go at his age, but he still BFs about 4 times a night, so he probably doesn't have room for that much yet. We can build it up slowly. Am so relieved - I know it's not ideal (he still completely refused the bottle from her) but the main thing is that he's taking on fluids from a source other than me, like your DS teacher, so I don't need to worry that he'll starve while I'm away from him! There's still quite a way to go, but it's really good to know that he'll be able to hold it himself in a couple of months. Am off to have a celebratory nap wink

teacher123 Mon 03-Dec-12 17:59:28

Wahoo! That's great great news! Well done your mum :-) enjoy your nap you lucky thing! X

xkcdfangirl Mon 03-Dec-12 19:24:08

smile

Firsttimemum2012 Tue 04-Dec-12 06:04:24

That is great news! And that's quite a bit for a baby that wouldnt take formula two days ago!

smile Thanks, am so relieved. He loves his granny, she was the one who looked after him for first 6 weeks of his life (alongside DH) so maybe that helped. Who knows?! On the downside, he still fed every 2 hours last night, but going to start offering him cooled boiled water before feeding him now when he wakes to see if that'll settle him. x

teacher123 Tue 04-Dec-12 08:01:11

I found that every time I changed a feed-eg when I stopped feeding before naps, he would wake a bit more for feeds in the night whilst he settled into his new routine, then it would settle down again. I think they have to adjust gradually to things. Last night though he had a massive tantrum when I got home, an hour of whinging interspersed with crying (he has a horrible cold poor thing) but then he went to sleep and didn't wake up till 7-I had 7 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep!!!! grin

You're certainly right about the gradual adjustment - DS took a 10am formula cup feed today quite happily, then a BF around 1, but when it came to his 4pm formula cup feed he too had a massive freak out and cried and cried. He also decided that today would be a good time to try out shouting 'mam, mam' while crying and crying, which made me feel terrible. But then we distracted him with cbeebies and he cheered up - I'm glad mum is here, because if she wasn't I probably would have given in and given him a BF. It's really hard, tho I know he won't remember it when he's older.

madeuplovesong Tue 04-Dec-12 19:07:17

Hi there can I ask what type of cup you used? And how, exactly, did you get him to take it? I have a bottle refusing ebf baby. I'm not going back to work for a while but I would like to get him started on a cup soon so that I know he can get nutrition from somewhere else, because at some point (shocking I know) I could do with a break! I bought a tommee tippee easy flow cup the other day and gave it to him to play with which he didn't seem too interested in, but I haven't intervened to get him to drink from it yet as don't really know what to do...

teacher123 Tue 04-Dec-12 19:37:16

I read that you should aim to drop one feed a week, so to swap over gradually, so maybe just stick to his morning cup feed for a week and then tackle the afternoon one? I first stopped feeding at nap time, then tackled the 11am feed, then the 2.30pm one a week later. Great news about this morning's feed though! We use the cheapest tommee tippee sippy cup. He now holds it nonchalantly in one hand sipping from it whilst in his pushchair!

Firsttimemum2012 Tue 04-Dec-12 20:00:52

Good news that he took the morning feed though cheap - I think you have done brilliantly. I have continued using the Playtex bottle and it's going ok, sticking with dropping the afternoon feed. Today was 3.5 oz breast milk and 2 oz formula and he finished 5 oz. increasing formula tomorrow - hope to start dropping mid morning feed towards end of the week. Thanks for all the handholding - it nice to be doing this with some company!

Hi Madeup, welcome to Bottle Refusers Anonymous :0) I too use the tommee tippee easy flow cup, it's a plastic beaker with a spout with 3 little holes in it. I got it free in my Bookbug Pack at his third set of injections (in Scotland) but I think you can get them in tesco for about a pound (sounds like you have the same one.) how old is your baby? Mine is 4 months and 1 week, and the HV told me that if he's refusing a bottle then it's best to go straight to a sippy cup (better for his (non-existent) teeth, and saves you having to wean them off the bottle when they're 1. Anyway, we've been using it for roughly 3 weeks I think, and he's getting good at drinking from it. I cradle him in my arm, pretty upright, and tip the spout gently into his mouth and he half sucks and half laps it. It is undoubtedly messy, and he probably dribbles about 10-20ml at each feed, but he can take about 70ml now in twenty mins, which is good for a BF baby I think. I let him play with it too when I first introduced it (empty) and he spent a long time just chewing on the spout, getting used to the feel of it. Teacher's DS is 7 months and is using a sippy and he can hold it and drink from it himself now. I think the advice we'd all give you (depending on the age of your little one) is that the sooner you start, the better, because it's a long old process. I'd give it at least two months to wean him from BF to bottle or cup - would others agree?

Teacher and Firsttime, you're right about taking it slowly - felt like I had two big rocks stuck to my chest by the end of today. I was keen to replace a couple of feeds while mum is here because I might cave when he cries and just BF him, but my supply needs more time to adjust.

Firsttime, I'm so glad your little one is starting to warm to the bottle. My playtex one still hasn't arrived, think my DH is still placing all his hopes on that bottle, but I'm sort of resigned to a sippy now.

One thing I'm learning is to be a bit stronger in myself when he cries (mean mummy smile.) my mum showed me that with a bit of distraction and cuddles he can be happy again in just a few moments, so I need to focus a bit more on the long term goals and not panic when he gets upset. It's hard learning a new skill but seems like we're all getting there bit by bit.

madeuplovesong Tue 04-Dec-12 22:31:55

Hi thanks for the advice that's really helpful. He is 18 weeks tomorrow. He started off life drinking from bottles due to a tongue tie, we had that treated on day 5, and bf got sorted after that. I had always intended that he would have a bottle in the evening but because we had a tricky start to bf, I was nervous about messing it up, so he had occasional bottle but we didn't persist and by 10 weeks he was deeply offended by being offered a bottle. Now I would just like an occasional free evening but something tells me that even if he does get the hang of a cup soon that won't replace the 45 min long bf he likes to have before bed! Am really impressed though with stories of these clever babies who can learn to drink from cups and tempted to just forget about bottles (havent tried one jn weeks anyway) because the trauma involved is horrible... Going to offer the cup as a toy regularly and see how we go! Do you think I should put water in it or just milk when he 'gets' it? Good luck with your cup feeding endeavours!

Same age as my DS roughly. He was born 31st July.smile I think, if you have time before you go back to work, then a sippy cup will work better for you when he's slightly older - 6 or 7 months, because he can hold it then and it might be easier. I'm having to do the transition now because I'm back to work in a month. But I appreciate that you need some time to yourself and I completely understand that - I think part of the reason I was so upset when my DS wouldn't take a bottle was that I was just so desperate for a few hours break. So if you want to start now, here are my (baby-brain-addled) suggestions.

What you put in the cup depends on if you want to transition to formula or expressed bm. I want my DS to take formula, so my HV told me to use it in the cup from the get-go, because he had to get used to it. It was good advice as it took him a few weeks to even swallow the stuff. He likes it now. I think that letting him hold the cup and put it in his mouth etc is a good idea, just be careful it doesn't become an actual plaything, as I guess he needs to see it as food too.

Maybe just set aside half an hour every 2 or 3 days just now, when he's relaxed and nearly hungry but not quite, stick the TV on and introduce the cup to him as a feeding tool, with milk in it. I started by gently tipping a little bit into his mouth, it needs to be a slow and gentle process, and not too intense (hence the TV). Once he has the hang of it then someone else could do it for you, but make sure they understand that a sippy doesn't give a young baby much control over their intake, so it's really important to be gentle with it and not tip in too much at a time at first. My DS lurches forward for it now, he got the hang of it pretty quickly. And now it means I can go to my work Christmas party next week - cue one over-excited new mum getting wellied on two glasses of cava and having to take the early train home :0)

He still BFs every two hours at night though, but that's a whole other challenge that I'll be tackling once the sippy is implemented in the daytime.

letsgetreadytoramble Thu 06-Dec-12 13:13:02

Playtex bottle finally arrived today! And health visitor has said that 60-70ml formula at a time isn't enough for him to be taking from the cup, so I can't replace any more feeds until he takes more. But I can't start BFing him at those times again either or my supply will adjust accordingly again. Rock and hard place. HV said to offer him bottle four or five times a day, but the problem is that he needs to be a bit hungry to take bottle, and because he won't take it I need to cup feed him too. And to add to the misery, he has a horrible cold and is now waking every hour at night wanting BF, presumably because it's now restricted during the day. Sorry, Stressed out ramblings.

letsgetreadytoramble Thu 06-Dec-12 13:48:30

Oh, that last last post was from Cheap, my new name is letsgetready

teacher123 Thu 06-Dec-12 14:10:08

Don't get disheartened! You've been doing so well! How many weeks until you get back to work? Have a look on the formula packet and see how much they are supposed to have at that age, I can't remember... Like I said upthread, trying to drop all the daytime breast feeds in one go will be really hard and he will just feed all night. Also if he's ill it's all a nightmare.

Firsttimemum2012 Thu 06-Dec-12 22:10:30

My HV said I might find DS would feed more at night when I went back to work and feed less during the day - I think it's called reverse cycling. It's fine if the baby is in your room as you can feed whilst both of you are half asleep.

Keep going - you have made some much progress - DS is proving very particular. Today was a 1/3 breast and 2/3 formula mix but it took quite a while to get 6 oz down him. When it went a bit cool he refused to take it but went back to sucking when it was warmed up again. He has not been as settled at night though - this parenting is hard work!

letsgetreadytoramble Sat 08-Dec-12 09:04:20

I'm back to work on 7th January. I worked out a plan with my mum before she went - at the moment I bf at 6am, formula at 10am, bf at 1pm, formula at 4pm, baby rice at 6pm and BF at 7pm. Going to replace the 1pm BF with formula the week after next and then replace the 6am bf two weeks later. I'll keep doing the 7pm bf for a month or so after I'm back at work because it might help him settle a bit better into his new routine.

Because he's only taking 60-70ml formula at a time though I'm worried he might be getting dehydrated, especially as his wee has been smelling really strong for the past week which I read can be a sign of dehydration (taking him to doc next week to check though) although he still has lots of wet nappies.

I spoke to the HV again yesterday (I hate being the mum who phones them constantly) but the advice is still just to keep offering him a bottle several times a day. So I offer him the playex bottle first (he chews on it and takes about 20ml that way) and then give him the rest from the cup. The playtex bottle is really good in terms of the teat being most like a normal nipple, but I just spent another £20 on the inserts too so they're not cheap.

The HV said he should be capable of sleeping 6 hours at night now (he's always woken every 2 hours and I've always just fed him), and I think she was suggesting that I try a bit of controlled crying, but I'm totally flummoxed because if he needs to make up for the lack of daytime fluids at night, perhaps I should still be feeding him every two hours at night.

I guess my real concern is that he's not getting enough fluids anymore, but the doctor will be able to help me with that. It's so hard, especially when your natural instinct (or mine is anyway) is to let them feed all day long if they want.

I think HVs should be asking BF mums when they plan to go back to work and advising them to offer a bottle once a day from an early age. I know that's no guarantee that they'll take it later on, but it would help a lot of people avoid this situation.

letsgetreadytoramble Sun 09-Dec-12 16:53:41

DS finally started sucking on the bottle! My DH came home from the pub where he'd been watching his team win a football match (so maybe he was in a 'winning' mood), put the playtex latex teat on the avent bottle (the new inserts for the playtex bottle haven't arrived yet), filled it with formula from one of the ready made cartons, cradled DS in his arm and started singing loud football songs (while I hovered anxiously nearby) and DS just suddenly started sucking, and drank 45ml in two minutes. He then looked very startled, cried, did a massive burp and went to sleep. I'm really hoping it wasn't just a one off, and that he'll do it again later! The latex teat does fit the avent bottle but probably not ideal as a feeding tool all the time as the nipple kept disappearing into the middle bit.

God, I'm so relieved, I really hope he keeps it up. The cup feeding is such a pain in comparison!

teacher123 Sun 09-Dec-12 17:02:57

Wahoo!! Well done your DH and his winning football team. Your plan for dropping feeds seems like a good one. Who is looking after DS when you're not there? Is it nursery or childminder? I'm sure they'll be experienced in getting babies to drink. Also I do think that babies like a bit of routine, when he starts childcare, that will be the new 'normal'! DS continues to refuse to drink any milk unless he's in the pushchair or carseat, preferably on the move...! Baby steps...

Firsttimemum2012 Sun 09-Dec-12 21:01:18

Yay that's great news. I couldn't get the Playtex teat to work properly on the avent bottle - I might have a look at that again as using the Playtex bottle is a pain as I find the inserts a real fiddle. That being said today DS took 5.5 oz of powder formula so tomorrow we will be dropping the 9.30 Ish feed and hopefully the lunchtime feed by the end of the week. I am going to keep the first morning feed and night feed for now.

Lets - can I ask how you are generally feeling about returning to work. DS will be going to nursery 3 days a week and family the rest of the time. We have our first settling in day tomorrow and I have spent all today feeling quite sad. He is just such a great little boy and I feel so guilty about leaving him at this age - I don't have much choice unfortunately. I want to cry every time I think about it!

letsgetreadytoramble Sun 09-Dec-12 21:39:45

My DS is going to a childminder 3 days a week, my MIL is looking after him 1 day a week and I'll be at home on the Friday (doing full time but 5 days compressed into 4, so 8am-5.30pm). So my situation is much the same as yours Firsttime. CM has got 15 years experience and good references (though not v up to date in new practices, new research etc) and MIL is also very good, but I feel utterly miserable about leaving him. I can't really sleep for worrying about things that might go wrong (they might overheat him, leave him crying, not change his nappy, not cuddle him enough, not feed him enough...etc.) I guess it's normal to feel like this but it's kind of all-consuming. I just love him so much, can't bear the thought that he might get neglected in some way and I wouldn't know. Sorry, I'm starting to sound crazymad, I think it's the lack of sleep. I had no idea it'd be this hard to be honest, keep trying to think of ways I can extend my mat leave but it's financially impossible.

We have the new Avent bottles (they're called Avent Natural or something) with the petal teats, don't know if they're maybe different to the ones you have? The latex teat doesn't fit it that well, we were just using it as emergency back-up before the inserts arrived - typical that he decides he likes that combination the best! :0)

Teacher, DS also likes to be on the move when drinking, usually while being carried. Very odd, I find it hard to drink while walking around, not sure why they like it. The Christmas tree is up now so I walk him round and round that! smile

letsgetreadytoramble Sun 09-Dec-12 21:43:28

Ps. Firsttime, that's great about your DS' progress with the bottles! You've done a fab job there, at least you can be reassured that he'll be able to feed well while you're at work. And I'm sure both our DS' will have a great time in childcare - mine is very sociable and is visibly happier when surrounded by people. It'll prob be harder on us than them x

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