bf babies who 'won't take a bottle'?

(47 Posts)
badguider Tue 26-Mar-13 17:19:19

This is a completely premature worry as am only pregnant now but I need to go back to work for half a day a week at 3months and for 1.5-2days a week at 5months. I should be able to then keep it at less than 2 days a week for the rest of the first year or two.

I want to bf to start with. Obviously I know from reading mn that this is easier said than done, though I always assumed I would bf (my mother did). But my question is, if I establish bf will my poor LO starve her/himself when I have to leave them at 3months with a bottle (hopefully of ebm)? Should I maybe not bf at all? I never read of ff babies who refuse the bottle.

If there genuinely is absolutely no choice but the bottle at 3months, will the baby take it? Would switching to entirely bottle-fed at 3months make this more likely? I am willing to try whatever will make this least traumatic for my LO.


EauRouge Tue 26-Mar-13 17:27:34

There are other methods of feeding if a bottle is no good. At 3 months they can feed from a cup (with help) so if you need to go back to work and a bottle doesn't work out then your baby won't starve smile

Some people advise introducing a bottle as soon as possible 'to get them used to it' but introducing a bottle too early can interfere with breastfeeding. Usually it's best to wait 6 weeks.

badguider Tue 26-Mar-13 17:39:54

Thanks - that's good to know about the cup, I've only heard about babies using cups from 6months.

BriocheBriocheBrioche Tue 26-Mar-13 17:42:54

I gave my dd a bottle of ebm at 6 weeks and she took it well. I used a Medela Calma bottle which is good for breast fed babies as it needs the baby to use the same action as on the breast. I only used it a handful of times and now at 13 weeks she takes tommy tipee closer to nature bottle without a problem.
I think it might have helped that she had a dummy.

I waited the six weeks as I felt it was more important for her to feed from the breast than the bottle and as Eau says there are other ways if the bottle is refused.
Good luck.

Teatimecakes Tue 26-Mar-13 18:09:26

My DS is 5 months and has been given bottles of bm from 8 days old. We did this on the advice of the HV as I'm in a similar work situation and knew he would have to take a bottle. He did both brilliantly from the beginning - he had 1 bottle feed from dh every other day. He had an excellent natural latch for the boob from the very first feed so I suppose I was luckily in the respect that I didn't have any other difficulties to deal with in addition to introducing the bottle. Interestingly, now at 5 months he has started refusing bottles altogether! But that's a whole different topic!!

Hanginggardenofboobylon Tue 26-Mar-13 18:13:17

IME it is best to introduce a bottle as early as possible and do so consistently. Whether its EBM or formula. Obviously only do once bf is established. You are also only away a half day at first, the baby will not starve.

SuckingDiesel Tue 26-Mar-13 18:19:01

MWs advised me to introduce a bottle sooner than 6 weeks as, in theri experience, it can be too late by then. I started DD on the occasional bottle of EBM at 3 weeks and she took to it straight away.

badguider Tue 26-Mar-13 18:26:39

Thanks all, I guess it depends how bf goes in the first place... and whether we have issues or not.

If it establishes relatively easily then I can worry about introducing the bottle when I think we've got the hang of bf but if it is the sort of hellish nightmare that you often read about on here then I guess I might have to give up and go straight to the bottle anyway.

Also, I know some women say they can't express anything either, I really want my LO to have bm but I guess I just have to wait and see...

Sparkleandshine Tue 26-Mar-13 18:30:34

At slight risk of going against the grain here....

Are you SURE you need to work half a day a week in one go????

I'm self employed and basically put both my DCs in a routine quite early then did little bits of work when I could (so like maybe an hour at lunchtime nap or an hour at 7pm) that way I just stayed with LO, and worked from home as the need arose.

I then went back to the office half time at 6 months but structured it so I could pop home and feed at midday and then morning and evening as normal.

I did find once the bottle appeared my milk disappeared, so I tried to introduce 1 bottle a day with DS1 at 6 months and he just went straight over full time to bottle sad with DS 2 I knew what would happen so hung out to 9 months before going to bottle.

Sparkleandshine Tue 26-Mar-13 18:31:54

oh and "won't take a bottle" is shorthand for "shut I - I don't want to bottle feed - don't ask me again" grin

Sparkleandshine Tue 26-Mar-13 18:32:09


TheUnstoppableWindmill Tue 26-Mar-13 18:37:25

Just some advice for when you try: I also went back to work a couple of days a week around 3 months. I hadn't tried a bottle consistently until around 8 weeks as I had trouble getting my supply up and found baby on the breast the only way to do it. My boy refused bottles of expressed milk for ages until my Mum made it super-warm, at which point he guzzled it happily! So if you have trouble check temperature. Lots of people I know introduced 1 bottle a day around 4/5 weeks and had no trouble. Also, while the general wisdom is that a good electric pump is essential for expressing, I didn't get on with the Medela Swing at all and actually had much more success with an Avent hand pump (and hand expressing). I pump 2 days a week while at work now and can do it super-fast with the hand pump, so do bear that in mind too (lots of people find the opposite though). Good luck!

badguider Tue 26-Mar-13 19:21:52

sparkle - the half a day a week is teaching, I have to do it in one go.
I am planning to do a bit more work but from home and in dribs and drabs, but teaching is out of the house for 5hrs or so.

badguider Tue 26-Mar-13 19:27:23

and it's only for one semester... (the half day that is)... but after that LO will be 6mnths+ and hopefully eating a bit and who knows what'll happen then etc. etc.

jessebuni Tue 26-Mar-13 20:45:37

At 3 months old going 5 hours isn't going to have your little one starving. If you make a habit of feeding before you leave and having some expressed milk in a cup or bottle for if they get hungry they can take it if they want or not if they don't. My DS combined fed from 4 weeks onwards all breastmilk but he didn't mind whether it was breast of bottle DD I didn't bother even trying a bottle until 6 moths ish by which time she wasn't keen but we did manage to have success with a sippy cup instead so all good :D

However if you're planning on pumping, start pumping from the get go because with DS I pumped from the start as he had both bottle and breast and got loads of milk out, with DD I had loads of milk at the start but as it gets adjusted for your baby and your baby is more effective at sucking milk out than a pump I struggle to get as much out even with an electric pump. So best start pumping from the beginning if you're going to try having both as you can keep it frozen anyway.

LadyWidmerpool Tue 26-Mar-13 20:54:55

oh and "won't take a bottle" is shorthand for "shut I - I don't want to bottle feed - don't ask me again"

Not for us. Bottle/cup refusal caused us a lot of angst and practical difficulties and it wasn't imagined, thanks.

OP your baby will probably accept a bottle fine if you try in the first 6-8 weeks, and if so I would really try to give one daily so you all stay in the habit.

snowchick1977 Tue 26-Mar-13 21:10:37


I am the other end of the spectrum. I am due to go back to work in 4 weeks and my dd is ebf and is 5 months old. I have tried every bottle, teat, cup, beaker, breast milk, formula etc etc for the past 3 weeks, and nothing! She simply hates it.

Its so stressful.

My son took a bottle at 4 months easily so i think i left it too long and now i am stuck breastfeeding whilst trying to figure out how to do my 12 hour shifts at work.

My advice....introduce a bottle ASAP.

I wouldnt want anyone having to put themselves, or their baby through what I am going through x

Good luck x

dietcokeandwine Tue 26-Mar-13 21:34:26

Agree with snowchick...

1)introduce a bottle early, and

2) give one daily (don't fall into the trap of thinking that because they've taken a bottle once or twice they'll continue to be happy to take one - you have to offer one regularly or they'll forget they ever had a bottle)

Aim to introduce a bottle by 6 weeks; I introduced a daily bottle at around 2/3 weeks with all three of my DC which worked really well and didn't interfere with breastfeeding at all, but all babies are different, I wouldn't advise introducing one this early if you weren't happy that you had fully established breastfeeding.

notcitrus Tue 26-Mar-13 22:03:28

My ds took a bottle happily as long as it wasn't from me.
Dd wasn't a bottle fan but when I had to be away for 5 hours when she was about 4 months, he got her to drink enough to stop crying by dipping fingers in and putting them in her mouth, and getting the cup closer until she could slurp straight from it. She was ok with a bottle from 6 weeks to nearly 3 months but then clearly I was better.

tomatoplantproject Tue 26-Mar-13 22:14:08

I find it incredibly patronising to say that not taking a bottle is shorthand for not wanting to give up breast feeding. I waited until 8 weeks before trying to introduce a bottle of expressed milk. Have tried every bottle going, other people have tried etc etc and dd has been very stubborn. We don't want to starve her into submission so have been left Doing some complicated workarounds in order for me to do some pieces of work. It has been stressful and upsetting and involved a lot of tears.

I wish I had introduced a bottle much earlier, at 2-3 weeks. I love my dd dearly and have enjoyed nourishing her to the amazing baby she is, but she's nearly ready for weaning and I can't wait to be able to hand over the reins of caring for her to other members of the family and to get a bit of space for myself to do some work and properly catch up with friends on the odd night out.

notwoo Tue 26-Mar-13 22:18:59

Introduced dummy at 4 weeks and bottle of ebm at 6 weeks. Ds had approx 1 bottle a week for the first 6 months then introduced a daily bedtime bottle. All fine.

Think pp is right when she says that having a dummy makes them
More likely to take a bottle.

badguider Wed 27-Mar-13 10:49:15

Interesting. It seems that the key is making sure that a bf baby encounters a dummy or bottle early enough and regularly... I know that some people do have a nightmare introducing a bottle at a later date, I just hope introducing it early will solve this.

Interestingly when you read threads about people giving up bf earlier than they'd have liked they never talk about how the baby might not take the bottle.

JammieE Wed 27-Mar-13 11:23:03

This hopefully won't be relevant to you but I have to use a nipple shield when I bf as my daughter was born with a tongue tie and high pallet so she has never been able to latch properly, despite going to bf class, seeing a lactatio specialist and getting a private consultant on tongue tie to come and see us and cut the tongue tie. I have pretty much exclusively used shields since she was 1 day old. The only other option when she was newborn was syringe feeding which was an absolute nightmare. Because she uses a shield she has no objection to a bottle. I guess using a shield is like a hybrid between bfing and bottle feeding. She dribbles for England when taking expressed milk from a bottle but has never refused to take it and cries if I take the bottle away before she is done.

The only person I know who has had a problem getting their child to take a bottle every now and again was trying to use formula. I guess it tastes different so that could have been part of the problem. That said, I am the only person from my antenatal classes whose baby is exclusively on breast milk and everyone else switches between bm and formula without difficulty.

MsElisaDay Wed 27-Mar-13 12:12:21

I'd agree with others who say the best thing to do will be to give a bottle of EBM early, and regularly.
My DS had his first bottle when he was four weeks old. Due to poor weight gain, I was advised to express and feed via a bottle, as we really struggled with establishing breastfeeding.
Anyway, the breastfeeding didn't click for some time and we exclusively expressed until he was 10 weeks old, when he began latching on.

Since then he's been feeding well from me and has rocketed up through the centiles. However, we've kept up the bottle, as I knew I was going back to work when he was five months old.
The way we did this was by DH doing one feed a day (usually the 5am ish one) and I'd express at the same time. I wanted to keep DS used to the bottle, and it was also useful to express so I could build up a freezer stash of milk.

He now has no problem taking EBM from a bottle at all, and will happily take it from my DM, my MIL or DH when I'm working.
If it helps, we used Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles and teats. He has swapped between these and my boobs with no trouble.

minipie Fri 29-Mar-13 08:57:14

i agree with the advice to give one bottle a day from about 4 weeks or so, once BF latch and milk supply are established. not only does it get them used to the idea that bottle equals food, it also means DH can do a feed and you can get some sleep!

We found the NUK latex teat worked well.

woopsidaisy Fri 29-Mar-13 09:08:04

I introduced a bottle in the first two weeks with DS 1&2. Was not consistent with DS3, a bottle one day, none for a few days etc... By 6 weeks he refused it and dummy. So still bfing at 7 mo.

Introduce a bottle within the first 2 weeks is my advice.

Stick to 1 a day, at the same time each day to have minimal impact on bf.

(i mixed fed my DD this way, I waited until later to introduce a bottle to me DS and he never took it.)

leedy Fri 29-Mar-13 12:14:39

...though be aware that introducing a bottle early is no guarantee that they'll continue to take a bottle, or that introducing one later means definite failure. I know several people whose babies went on total bottle strikes at random times - was talking to one woman last week whose daughter suddenly rejected all bottles at five months after having one a day for months. Babies == not an exact science. smile

PoppyWearer Fri 29-Mar-13 13:00:11

One bottle a day from early on, a few days old, as others have said.

My DC1 was a bottle-refuser at 3mo and it was 9mo when we finally cracked her (with much help from the nursery).

With DC2 we didn't want to fall into that trap and started him on one bottle a day, as well as bf'ing to 15mo. It worked beautifully.

In any case, DC1 started nursery at 6mo without drinking from bottles (still bf) and didn't go hungry, she just started taking on huge breastfeeds morning and night instead!

EauRouge Fri 29-Mar-13 13:45:40

OP, I'm guessing you want to make an informed decision about this so I would gather some info from LLL and NCT about introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby.

There is no evidence that there's any window of opportunity for introducing a bottle or that you need to introduce one early to get a baby to take a bottle. As I said in my previous post, introducing a bottle too early can interfere with breastfeeding. This doesn't happen to every baby but the risk is there and I'm sure you want to be aware of it.

This is a really good article that might help you. There's also an article here about possible alternatives to a bottle.

The problem is Eau - is that all the LLL/NCT advice is focused around the fact that bf failing is the worst possible outcome of attempting to mixed fed 'too early'. It's also hopelessly optimistic about what will work to get an older baby whose reluctant to take a bottle take it, or other ways to feed them.

And for a lot of people, like the OP who will going back to work before her baby is weaned, the baby stopping breastfeeding is not actually the worst possible option.

I have been in that situation with a baby who would not take a bottle, and it was hideous and completely soul destroying.

EauRouge Fri 29-Mar-13 14:11:00

The information from LLL and NCT is based on scientific evidence.

Of course it's up to the parents when they decide to introduce a bottle but isn't it better to make a decision based on facts? If breastfeeding is very important then they may decide not to take the risk, however small it may be. They may decide to look into possible alternatives. On the other hand, they may decide that the benefits to them are worth the risk.

There's nothing wrong at all with introducing a bottle early if you are aware of and happy with the small risk that it may interfere with breastfeeding.

That is not how it is presented by LLL and NCT.

I know very well from my own experience that they do not make people aware that the risk of introducing a bottle later is a baby who won't take a bottle.

I'm sorry but they are not giving ALL the facts.

EauRouge Fri 29-Mar-13 17:06:38

What is it that you think they are missing out? There is no proven risk that waiting to introduce a bottle will make it more difficult, that is why they don't tell people.

It is true in many, many cases.

Why does it need to be a proven risk, who is going to pay to do research on it? How would you do a double-blind study? That doesn't mean it isn't true.

I actually find that attitude that we won't tell anyone because there isn't any proof quite offensive. there is a reason why everyone on this thread has given pretty much the same advice. Because it's the best way in our experience to ensure a baby takes a bottle. You can still have a very good idea of what works and what doesn't without research. It's called common sense and experience.

badguider Fri 29-Mar-13 17:24:34

I understand that bottles might spoil breast feeding but the alternative for me if my baby cannot be fed by somebody else is declaring my business bankrupt. I'd then be living on credit until my child is weaned then looking for a salaried job and putting the baby into childcare. Not what I want for my child or me.
If I can get bottle feeding to work then I can keep my flexible self-employed business throughout my child's early years and beyond.
For me, achieving that work/life balance so I can be there for my child in all the early years is more important than exclusive breast feeding and although I'd ideally feed them only bm, if I have to ff or ebm feed only to make that work I will.

EauRouge Fri 29-Mar-13 17:35:00

That's fine, OP, you have weighed up your options and chosen what is best for you.

TeWi, the posts on this thread are anecdotes. It's always useful to hear what other people have done but it should be taken alongside information about how breastfeeding and milk production work. There are reasons why introducing a bottle early should be done with precaution.

I am aware of that, you have no idea how much experience they come from though, but hey thanks for being patronising.

TwitchyTail Fri 29-Mar-13 17:37:43

I had no choice but to introduce a bottle from day one (top ups for early baby with jaundice and low blood sugars). We we able to establish full-time breastfeeding from day 5 so it didn't interfere with that, but now even 5 weeks later, he will happily take a bottle when I am out (a few times a week or so), which is a huge help. So it worked out well for us, but I'm sure every baby is different.

helebear Fri 29-Mar-13 17:51:09

I agree with all the people who say be consistent once you do start offering a bottle. I offered dd a bottle when she was a few months old in the hope that dp could give her the odd bottle of expressed milk, she took it happily so I thought 'great, she'll take a bottle if needs be'. Didn't bother again for a month or so and she refused to take one again until she was 9 months and i was due back to work and we tried just about every bottle on the market.

geekette Fri 29-Mar-13 19:32:17

twitchy if your little one is 5 weeks old, I would wait before announcing that bottle feeding works for you. babies change a lot (especially when you think you've sussed them out!) and most start refusing the bottle at the 3-4 month mark.

mine refused all dummies and teats until she hit 6 months. she started copying her ff friends and decided suckling on plastic wasn't so bad.

she happily took a doidy cup in between.

it could be a question of leaving her with a cup and trying the bottle later when she is more aware.

TwitchyTail Fri 29-Mar-13 19:37:03

Didn't mean to announce Geekette, sorry if it came across that way - was just sharing my (very limited) experience. Obviously keeping fingers wildly crossed it will continue smile

MumOfTheMoos Fri 29-Mar-13 20:02:13

If you are only gone for 5 hours your dc will be fine whether they take a bottle or not.

My DS was bottle fed a mix of bm and formula until he was about 5 weeks old as he had TT. He had a bottle regularly after that but then became a bottle refuser and has never been that keen on sippy cups.

When I've left him for the afternoon to go to college he just waits until I get back to feed - no drama, he doesn't get upset just doesn't feed.

That said a couple of weeks ago (he's now 12mo) we started him on a straw cup and he loves it.

badguider Sat 30-Mar-13 08:35:27

Wow! I didn't know that a 5mo could last five hours without feeding and without getting upset... that's great to know.. I sort of assumed they'd still need bm on tap at that age prior to weaning.

MumOfTheMoos Sat 30-Mar-13 11:20:04

Well, mine was 5.5mths old when I did that and I do think it depends on the baby! DS is a very calm, phlegmatic soul.

Obviously, I always left ebm fro him and he was always offered it but, sometimes they just prefer to wait for the real thing and have a good long feed.

Weissdorn Sat 30-Mar-13 21:26:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Angelico Sat 30-Mar-13 21:37:35

Haven't read all thread but basically what Brioche said at start. We gave DD a dummy from early on and used the Medela Calma teat which came with the Medela swing pump. Don't buy it specially (the teat) as it was pretty useless once she got a bit older. DD (6 months) now uses TT Closer to Nature bottles with size 2 teats (medium flow) and is very content smile I know the Baby Whisperer book recommends introducing a bottle before 3 weeks just to let them get the feel for it.

Also - I started expressing early on and found that I got problems with blocked ducts. It might have been coincidence but you would be sensible to wait 8 or 9 weeks until your supply settles before you start messing about expressing, unless you plan to express at the same time every day. Takes the pesky boobs a while to calm down smile From 4 months on I've expressed a lot with no difficulties, especially the last month when DD is going to creche for several full days and I need to express during her time away so a) she has milk for creche and b) I can keep my supply up for the 4 days when she is with me most of the day.

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