My Nursling Won’t Take a Bottle

My five-month-old won’t take a bottle. We started doing test runs with him when he was four weeks old, after meeting with our lactation consultant and excitedly discussing his wonderful weight gain (he was 11 pounds at four weeks!!).

The first few times my husband tried giving him a bottle it went well, but we soon learned he vastly preferred mama. As in, he’ll roll a rubber nipple around in his mouth, but he sure won’t drink milk from it.

I work very part-time this go around, and from home, but I still need to meet with clients, attend events, or otherwise occasionally be apart from my son for a few hours. We bought dozens of fancy bottles, all different sorts of nipples. No go. So then we tried giving him an open cup like a big boy.

I even tried giving him little sips from a spoon. It was extremely tedious and not very effective.

It’s sort of frustrating, because my first son would drink anything we handed him. And we handed him all sorts of different things!

I get very sad when people, who I suppose mean well, tell me, “If he’s starving, he’ll take a bottle.” Well…maybe. But I don’t want him to be starving. I’m really fortunate right now to be able to work part-time, and from home, so it’s really not necessary to get him to the point where he feels starving.

Up until very recently, I’ve just been scheduling meetings around his long afternoon nap.

Otherwise, my baby is with me.  All. The. Time.

We’ve had a few weddings to attend, and that’s made things interesting. Just this past weekend, we had a wedding. I wasn’t able to bring my nursling along, so I went to only the ceremony and left my son home with his dad in hopes that we could jump straight to a sippy cup. I nursed him just before I left the house (the weather was so nice, I could wear a skirt and nursing top!) and hoped it’d all be ok until I could get back three hours later.

I will tell you, as much as I’ve enjoyed constant snuggles from this, likely my last ever baby, it sure was nice to get away for a few hours. Even to sit in traffic en route to the wedding. I listened to NPR, you guys! But of course I worried about my baby at home, potentially starving, probably fussing.

The wedding was lovely, the socializing outside the church was fulfilling, and my return home was frantic. The verdict: so-so. He liked that he could hold the sippy cup and look all around while he was drinking. He liked that for almost an ounce! I’ll call that progress.

My plan this week is to have our sitter keep offering the sippy cup while I am working. My hope is to get him to at least take some milk this way by early December, when we have yet another wedding (this one with bowling at the reception!) I’d like to go to with just my husband.

 Did any of you have a baby who wouldn’t take a bottle? How did you decide to approach this? Leave a comment to let us know!

4 comments to My Nursling Won’t Take a Bottle

  • Ova Uli

    Hi, my situation might be way different from yours but thought I’d share anyways..I had my son about a month early on June 20, 2012 and when he was born he had a heart issue in which he had to have Heart Surgery at 2 weeks old. He had a long recovery in which he survived n after being in the Nicu for a little over 2months, the doctor let is go home. But, he had to have a G button to have his feeds go thru because he wouldn’t take the bottle n he would take the bottle a little but now won’t suck at all from the bottle. We have a specialist coming to our home to help us with this so hopefully that will help. I just thought I’d share my bottle experience with you and hope someone can shed a little light on similar situations which all of us mothers can also learn from.

  • Kelly McNelis

    I had a very similar situation as you – my first daughter did great with bottles and my second refused. With my second, I tried diligently for weeks and finally accepted the fact that she would never take one. Since then (she’s 15 months old now), I’ve met lots of other mothers who ran into the same thing, so you’re not alone. The only thing I can share is that my daughter is still very attached to me – and still nursing – and I have not been able to leave her overnight yet. Once I accepted the situation it got easier. Plus I know that it’s temporary. I’m comfortable leaving her during the day now because I know she’s fine eating table foods and using a sippy cup. Hang in there. It will get easier!!

  • Katy Rank Lev

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Kelly and Ova! One day at a time, right? (On a high note, we started doing some cereal and he’s been excited to eat that stirred with breastmilk!)

  • Michelle

    My first child didn’t take much from a bottle til she was over a year old, but she was happy to wait. She wails take two ounces or so a day while she was at daycare and then nurse all night. Not every baby is content to do that- as you describe.
    I am now a daycare provider (I used to teach third grade), and I am currently struggling with a borderline underweight 6 month old who has become increasingly agitated with her feedings since the age of 12 weeks. She is basically offended that the bottle even graces her lips. The problem for me is that she pretty much screams the rest of the day once she gets hungry. It is improving slightly now that her parents have started her on cereal- I can feed her that twice a day, but I can say that caring for a baby who is hungry and refuses to est and then cries for hours on end can wear on a person. I suppose this too shall pass.

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