Nursing with a supplementary bottle

"I'm nursing my 4 month old daughter and don't want to quit yet, but still want to use a supplementary bottle now and then. The trouble is she doesn't take a bottle well, if at all. We've tried giving her a bottle every day, tried different nipples, and tried different times of day. A few times she's taken bottles in succession, and then refuses them totally at other times. Any suggestions?"

"Sucking out of a bottle is a completely different mouth operation than nursing from a breast. Many babies find this baffling. Not understanding your desire for a supplementary bottle, I'd say drop those if not necessary. If you want more information call the La Leche League."

"Since breast milk is the most important nutrient for a baby, and the nursing process is the most complete way of providing that nutrient, I think you need to re-evaluate why you are trying to give your very young daughter a bottle. Are you returning to work? Are you taking an extended vacation? Did someone give you some `well meaning advice' and tell you that `for your own good' (and your baby's) you must interrupt what has been, until now, a vital way of nurturing your daughter.

Occasionally we nursing mom's run into circumstances when we think the only alternative is to give baby a bottle, i.e. - sickness of mom or baby, returning to work, colic, etc. But if you truly believe in the benefits of mothering your child in this most intimate way, then relax and take heart, because there is a group of women who have the answers to every breast feeding dilemma! Simply pick up your phone book and look up your local chapter of La Leche League. This caring group of women are available 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week.

Getting back to your daughter, perhaps she will not take a bottle because she doesn't like the taste of what's in it. Many babies don't like formula. She probably won't take a bottle from you because she is used to getting her milk another way.

If all else fails, listen to your daughter - perhaps she is simply identifying her priorities to you. So for now you will have to adjust yours accordingly!"

"From personal experience, I'd suggest that you use only your own expressed milk in the bottle and try a wider base nipple in the shape of

`mom'. My daughter was given a bottle from the age of two weeks (as a supplement) and she was very erratic, also. She refused formula altogether and would only accept a bottle on occasion. Surprisingly enough, at four months of age she went through a transition where she only wanted a bottle because she was too frustrated `working' for mom's milk. Keep in mind that bottle milk comes out faster than your own, and eventually baby may prefer the bottle to you."

"Put a little fruit juice or something sweet in the bottle. Have someone other than the mother feed the baby the bottle so she doesn't associate the bottle giver with nursing. Feed her the bottles before she becomes too hungry so she won't be fussy and impatient."

"Have you tried different formulas? A Juice? Expressed milk? Does your husband hold her or do you? Our 6 month old will not take a bottle readily from me, but will from my husband. I've also heard the opposite from friends! Keep trying -she'll catch on. Try the next one when she's already a bit full rather than coaxing her to start something new on an empty stomach.

"I had the same problem with my son but managed to keep working yet nursed until he was 10 months old. I found that holding the bottle in the same place and location he wanted to nurse from really helped. I started by letting him nurse then switching to the bottle. Eventually he did take the bottle without nursing first."

"She will be more likely to take the bottle from dad or any other familiar person instead of you. But some babies just don't want to take a bottle, preferring to wait until the `real' thing is available. Ours was like this until she was 6 months. It may just take time, so be patient. Good for you for your continued nursing!"

"Are you trying to feed your daughter with the bottle or is your spouse. My sons won't let me feed them with a bottle. They know `mommy' and accept breast feeding only from me. My oldest was 6 months old before he accepted a bottle from anyone consistently. He finally just got too hungry to refuse. My youngest has always accepted a bottle from any one but me. I suggest you stay away, to the point of not being home, when the bottle is offered. Your daughter can sense your presence and would much rather nurse."

"I had the same problem with my daughter at that age. My first suggestion is to pump your own milk for those bottles you give her. Let her get used to the bottle first with your milk (be sure it's nice and warm for her), then start supplementing with formula if she'll take it. Also, my daughter took the bottle better from others than from myself. If she continues to fight the bottles, let it rest for a week, then try again. As she got older, my daughter seemed to accept the bottle better."

"My now 7 year old was like that. I'd nurse him around 9 am before I left for work. I'd leave a bottle for him but he refused to take it. Was he ever glad to see me when I got home! I nursed him until he was 18 months. He never took a bottle until he was over a year. I wouldn't worry if you leave her with a sitter and a bottle and she refuses to take it. She'll eat if she gets hungry enough, my son did."

"If she's made it clear she doesn't like drinking from a bottle, wait a few months (until she's 8 or 9 months) and then offer her a cup with a spout."

"My daughter refused to take a bottle before 4 months also. I gave up trying, but would offer her water in the bottle in between feedings. She was teething at the time, and soon enjoyed taking the water, and chewing on the nipple. Then I started feeding her fruit mixed with formula once a day to get her used to the tastes. A week or so later she accepted the formula from the bottle. Good luck."

"Have someone other than mommy give your daughter a bottle. She is accustomed to having you nurse her. Be sure to use breast milk in the bottle so the taste is the same. Try giving her the bottle when you know she is really hungry. Call La Leche League (922-4996). Someone there can help with any breast feeding questions you have."

"Babies are very smart. She knows the bottle is not your breast and she may never take the bottle. A dropper, cup or Tippee cup with a mouthpiece might work better than a bottle. Or if someone other than mother gives a breast milk bottle at a time when she isn't extremely hungry may work. If you want to use a bottle for times away from her without wondering if she is hungry and she just refuses the bottle you need to accept her wish and respect it. Soon she will be on cereal, juice, etc., and you can forget this bottle struggle. She will not be so dependent on you much longer. Just hang in there and let her tell you her needs."

"Make sure you're giving her breast milk in the bottle. Our 4 month old likes the Playtex nurser bottles. It took a few months to get her to take a bottle, but they do learn after a while. Try giving her water in between feedings with the bottle also, to get her used to it."

"We had the same `problem' with our daughter. She never really liked a bottle until she was 9 months old. We finally quit giving her a bottle except when we had to be away. Then I knew I couldn't be gone much more than a feeding or two. If she were really hungry, she'd take a bottle. If not, she could wait till I got back. In other works, don't sweat it until you need or want to wean her."

"Don't worry about it! Three out of my four children wouldn't touch a bottle. Your daughter can soon start some rice cereal. You can also introduce a `Tommy-Tippee' cup to her and she can learn to use this to drink from. Then you will be able to leave her, knowing she'll get her nutrition from her cereal and cup and you don't have to worry about getting her to take a bottle. I've decided you just can't force certain babies to drink a bottle. My babies enjoyed nursing for over a year and I'm glad I didn't force a bottle on them."

"I nursed my son for his entire first year. It is very important to encourage the bottle so you can get away to take a nap, go shopping, etc. Try leaving the room and having your husband or mother give the baby the bottle. If she is hungry she'll get the hang of it. Sometimes if you're in the room she can smell you and naturally prefers what you have to offer."

"If nursing is going right, she probably doesn't need a supplement. Just stick with nursing. Breast milk has all your daughter needs in it. If she won't take the bottle, maybe she's just not hungry."

"If you want to have the flexibility of having your baby take the bottle, it's important to be persistent. We had the same problem with our baby when she was two to three months old, but she is now 8 months old and we have been able to successfully combine bottle with breast feeding since she was four months old. So, don't give up. Keep offering her the bottle, although it can be pretty frustrating. The big turning point for us was when I had to go away for a 36 hour trip. We thought it would be awful for her dad, but actually it was harder for me, since I had to deal with expressing over that period of time. She got hungry and realized she had to drink the bottle. After that, it was no big deal. This may be pretty extreme, but a modification of it may work. Go out for the day or evening and leave a bottle. All breast milk or part breast milk and formulas may work best at first. If she gets really hungry, and it's offered by someone other than mom, she will drink it."

"Does this bring back awful memories! Our 1 1/2 year old son nursed exclusively until he was 7 months old. He would get hysterical at the mere sight of the bottle, so we just gave up and suffered it out. Finally, when he was 7 months old, had a lot of teeth and bit every time he nursed, I told him he had no choice, he had to take the bottle. He suddenly weaned himself and on Mother's Day last year just took the bottle! He never nursed again. Unfortunately, his Dr. said some children are so bonded to nursing they never take the bottle or won't until they're ready. Just hang in there though. This all seems like such a long time ago and the months do pass quickly. Our little boy is so `big' and independent already. I don't miss the nursing, but I do miss the baby!"

"I started giving my son a bottle at 3 months and he hated it. Now, at just over 4 months, he's finally accepting it! Things I tried: Experiment with different nipple styles, and don't be afraid to use two different ones the same day. Try formula rather than breast expressed milk - my son refused breast expressed milk from the bottle, and again, experiment with brands of formula and powder versus liquid. Try different temperatures - cool to room temp to luke warm. Offer the bottle at times during the day you know she's happy rather than hungry, and I mix only one ounce at a time to offer so I don't waste. Let her just play and then chew on the nipple to become accustomed to it's feel in her mouth. If she fusses - quit and try later, maybe with dad. I also hold my son either propped up on my knees or sitting in his infant seat rather than holding him in a nursing position. This seems to work better as he doesn't feel as though he's going to nurse. Once she takes the bottle willingly, you can snuggle back down to that cozy position with it, too. I, too, plan to continue nursing for now, but just want to know he'll accept a bottle if necessary. Good luck!"

"I know the feeling! Try and hang in there as your baby will eventually get the hang of it and try to keep the situation as pleasurable as possible for all concerned. Since you've tried different times, I'd pick one feeding and try the bottle only at that one feeding for awhile so you can fully enjoy your other nursing times. Try to pick a time when your partner will be home for moral support. Has he tried giving the bottle? That helped us. Don't let you or the baby get too worked up if a feeding isn't going well. Switch to the breast and enjoy the rest of the feeding. We never found any `trick' to this problem, only time and a relaxed attitude. Good luck!"

"You might want to just wait another month or so. Our daughter wouldn't take a pacifier until 5 months. I finally get her to take it by putting it in my mouth. Then she wanted to imitate me and has never had a problem since. Try letting your husband give her the bottle while you are gone. Most babies prefer to have their mothers breast rather than a bottle, so she may really balk if you're right there."

"Ah....yes! Both my children went through `artificial nipple rejection'. Nothing worked - different nipples, formula, expressed milk, even bottles in the middle of the night. My 1st child never took a bottle for nourishment but she was drinking out of a cup at 6 months. With my 2nd child what worked was the brand of nipples where the holes are made for the age of the infant. From them he got the formula at the right pace - not too fast, not too slow."

"I had a similar problem with my daughter at about the same age but she seemed to outgrow it, or get over it, after several weeks. I was determined to have her adjust because I had to return to work when she was 5 1/2 months old and I wanted her to be comfortable with the bottle at day care. It helped to hold her facing away from me and sing her a soothing song. When anyone else fed her I had to be in a different room. By 6 months she was very comfortable switching from bottle to nursing, even at different times."

"Be sure that you are not the one to give your daughter the bottle. It may help if you are even completely out of sight while the bottle is being tried. Mix your milk with formula."

"Try holding her next to your bare skin when you give her a bottle, (dad can do this too) until she gets used to taking a bottle without the struggle. Then she will still get the comfort and closeness that she does when nursing."

"We had this problem and, in desperation, finally let him try a cup. The Tupperware cups with lids and spouts were the best - he did well with these at six months. Then he still nursed, of course, but mom got a break now and then!"

"What finally worked for us with our 5 month old daughter has to sit her in the corner of the couch and give her the bottle that way. Sometimes being against the body makes the baby expect the breast. We only had to do this a few times before our daughter would take the bottle well, while snug in our arms!"

"Always let your husband or other care giver feed the bottle. If you feed her she still gets your scent and will naturally prefer to breast feed. Pump your breasts and always give breast milk to begin (different milk & nipple are too much change at once). Give the bottle at a time when she is most hungry. Make sure the milk is at least body temperature (my daughter was used to the temp. of my milk from my body and would not take a bottle until we warmed it to the same temp.).

"It may help to hold your baby in an identical position as nursing. Sometimes Dad can be a better bottle-giver. It is a good contrast to Mom and nursing."

"I experienced the same problem with my then two month old. I tried many different nipples, only to have her gag and push the nipple out of her mouth. Someone suggested I try slow flowing nipples, which worked wonderfully. Don't struggle or force her, this could cause a negative response. Be sure it has been several hours since her last feeding, using as much breast milk as possible. 1/2 breast milk and 1/2 formula is a good start. Gradually eliminate the milk. Have someone other than yourself feed her. At six months my daughter refused nursing, so be sure to enjoy it for the short time you're able to do it."

"Now that you've tried different bottles and nipples, try expressed milk in a bottle and 2 days later formula in a bottle. See the difference if you can. My 4 month old will hardly take the formula (if at all) but takes the expressed milk well. We've eliminated formula and now hubby gives her my expressed milk 2 times a week so that I may go somewhere alone. And I store extra in the freezer if I'm late or need a nap. La Leche League support helps me during these special months of breast feeding."

"If at all possible, perhaps her father could try giving her the bottle only. She is so used to breast feeding with you that with, and only with the father she will sense that it is the bottle feeding time. Soon she'll be comfortable taking the bottle as well as breastfeeding. Might be worth a shot."

"I had the very same problem. Here are some things to consider: Does the bottle you're offering contain formula? If so, perhaps your baby is objecting to the formula rather than the bottle itself. Try offering expressed breast milk instead, to give the baby a chance to get used to one change at a time. Later you can try formula again, after the baby has gotten the hang of the bottle. Who is offering the bottle? Most breast fed babies are too smart to take a bottle from mom. They know you have the `real thing'. Try having someone besides yourself who baby is familiar with offer the bottle. You may need to leave the room since often babies seem to be able to sense their mother's presence. Have whoever is giving the bottle hold the baby close, in a position that you hold them in for nursing. I found my baby objected less to a bottle when she was very sleepy, and I was nowhere in sight or ear shot.

Try a variety of nipple types. I found the most success with the Playtex orthodontic-shape nipple. When a baby nurses at the breast the, the whole area around their mouth comes in contact with the breast. The Playtex style of nipple, because of it's shape, puts more of the nipple up against the mouth area than the traditional style of nipple. I've also heard that some babies object to the `taste' of latex nipples, and prefer the silicone type which are supposed to be tasteless. Also consider the temperature of the bottle's contents and the nipple. Breast fed babies are used to body temperature milk and nipples. Try warming the nipple under hot tap water before offering it, and have the bottle's contents at body temperature. Some babies are very particular.

If all of these ideas fail, you might want to try offering a cup. Some babies never accept a bottle (in spite what people will tell you about `when she's hungry enough she'll take the bottle'). You can try many things to make the bottle more like you, but to your baby it's still very different. In fact, sucking on a bottle requires a whole different sucking technique than is used for breast feeding. If you have one of these particular types of baby, they may object less to an approach that is totally different rather than a substitute which, to them, is just a poor imitation of the real thing. This was recommended to me by a lactation consultant and it was, for me, much more successful than the bottle route. I was also advised to start out with a regular cup (vs. a training cup with spout) since the spout may confuse some babies by making them think they should try to suck on it. Also, to try bottle or cup when the baby is not extremely hungry and stop and try again later if they become too upset. (You don't want them to associate the bottle/cup with frustration.)

If you need more information or support, contact La Leche League. (La Leche League is an organization dedicated to providing education about breast feeding and support and information to moms interested in breast feeding. They are listed with directory assistance.) Ask for a number for La Leche League of Minnesota. Their group leaders welcome your calls, and have access to a vast amount of information on breast feeding based on the experiences of countless nursing mothers. Their manual, THE WOMANLY ART OF BREAST FEEDING, is also a wonderful reference and contains chapters on breast feeding problems including this one. Also, many hospitals in the area staff lactation consultants in their birthing centers and postpartum stations. These are registered nurses who have special education and training in providing breast feeding education. Usually there is no charge for a consultation unless you have to go in for an appointment, which is unlikely. A phone call to one of these resources may give you some additional ideas. Or you can call me, Catherine at 484-2249.

Lastly, don't give up, and don't despair. It will get easier. Soon your baby will be ready for solids, and a baby sitter can offer this as well to tide baby over until you return. Good luck! Be proud that you are giving your baby nature's best baby food.

( What advice would you most like to give about experiencing life with a new baby?"
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