If you didn’t start off straight away with bottles, then most of us, at some point, need to transition our grubs from boob to bottle. My mum chose to bottle feed my sister and I from the start, and I’d seen friends really struggle with breastfeeding. So, when I was pregnant the first time around, I was really open to it. My philosophy was, “I’ll give it a go, but if it doesn’t work out, then bottle it is.” The kids’ got to eat right?!
Regardless, I also wanted to have a little bit of freedom (I’m talking just going to the supermarket on my own type thing), and my husband wanted to be involved if he could. So, we made the decision that we wanted to introduce a bottle at some point. What if there were occasions where I couldn’t get home in time? Or, god forbid, I got hurt and couldn’t feed him for a length of time? A bottle was something we wanted to have just in case.
When it came to it though, I was lucky enough to not have too many problems breastfeeding (apart from a bout of mastitis at 8 weeks – that is nasty!) and so we stuck to it. My midwife advised me that if we were feeding well, he was putting on weight and there were no obvious issues with breastfeeding, we could look at introducing one bottle a day at about 3 weeks old. So we did.
I would pump a little off with a Haakaa silicone breast pump (these things are so good to start with in your breastfeeding journey – not just for bottle feeding, but in case you need to pump off a little when grub starts to drop or extend the time between feeds) in the morning and hubby would do a feed at 10pm so I could have a few extra, blessed hours sleep. Bliss! This went swimmingly for about two months, I was even able to get a bit extra for freezing. The supermarket by myself never felt so good! I was doing a bit of part-time work as well, going in to an office for 6 hours a week while my mum looked after him, and it was important for me to be able to confidently leave him. It went well. For a while….
…And then we hit a big road block. At about 3 months old, he decided he would no longer take a bottle. What??!! Honestly, we routinely did one bottle a day, same time every day, so he knew what was coming and it was just routine for him. What happened?! It started with him spilling and not latching correctly on to the bottle and taking a lot longer to finish it. Then after a few days of this, he would start taking in air and crying and I would eventually have to take over. We then tried giving him a bottle before bed, knowing he would be hungry and tired and hopefully take it. Nope. This went on for about two weeks. I phoned Plunket in desperation (I had to stop going in to the office which was putting a lot of pressure on me) and they suggested perhaps differentiating between bottle and boob. So, if my plan was to introduce formula at some point, why not now?
I tried to mix breast milk and formula (as recommended in my antenatal class) and he hated it. So I went cold turkey; bottle = formula and mum = breastmilk. This STILL didn’t work. I then went through about 4 different bottle brands and just as many teats. Each one received the same answer. We tried different people feeding him; my husband, my mum and then me too. I tried feeding him a little and then trying to slip the bottle in his mouth. That move received the most disgusted look! I also put the teats down my top for about 30 minutes before putting them on the bottle, hoping this would work. Again, nope!
Each day was the same and I was getting more and more worked up about it. After about 6 weeks of this, one day it was like he decided he would suddenly be okay with the bottle. And he drank the whole thing with no problem. And looking at him now? You wouldn’t think he EVER had an issue!
So what’s my advice for others and what would I have done differently?
- Be consistent. With everything. Timing, bottle used and whether it’s formula or breastmilk. In the end, I decided it wasn’t the bottle and he was going to use one type and that was it. I used the same bottle every day, same time (after his lunch nap) so that it wasn’t the middle of the night, stressing the whole house out.
- I wish I had known then what I know now; they will get it. Stay calm, sing a song and just try every day. If they don’t want it, don’t keep trying and get them worked up.
- Act as if you don’t care if they take it or not. Smile! If they don’t want it, then feed them that day. But try again tomorrow.
- Pick a bottle brand and stick with it. Either breastmilk or formula, you choose, but stick with one.
- If you’re mixing breastmilk and formula, just try a bottle with one or the other. Have you ever tasted the mixture? To me it was pretty gross! No wonder he didn’t like it.
- Play around with temperature. In the end, we found he liked his bottle quite hot. To the point where we could feel it on our wrist when testing it.
Did any of you guys have an issue? Any one got any other tips? I’d love to hear from you!