Take the dang bottle!

We have an 8-month old daughter who, for various reasons including a dwindling breastmilk supply and the need to monitor just how much liquid she’s getting each day, needs to start drinking breastmilk or formula from a bottle or sippy cup. Up until she was about 3 months old she both nursed and used a bottle with no problems, but then decided one day she hated bottles and refused them. So, she’s been nursed exclusively since then. She eats solids very well, 3-4 times a day, and she gets a mix of veggies, oatmeal (w/ formula or breastmilk), fruits, and meat.

However, as I said, she needs to start taking a bottle in between those solid feedings and we just can’t seem to get her to do it. If we offer her a tilt sippy cup she just chews on it and then cries when something comes out. If we offer her a straw sippy cup she does the same thing. If we offer a bottle she’ll hold it in her mouth for a while, not sucking, and then start pitching a fit after about 2-3 minutes. We’ve tried warm breastmilk, cold breastmilk, formula w/ water, formula w/ apple juice, and various other juices. All pretty much end up the same way.

How do we get this child to take the damn bottle?

Some ideas that come to mind…

  1. Use the bottle nipples with the largest size hole. That way the milk just sort of flows in to her mouth without her really needing to suck on it.
  2. Make sure she is hungry before trying the bottle. So don’t do it like 1 hour after she just ate. Try the feeding at the time of day when she is the most hungry.
  3. Make sure the dad tries the feeding and not the mom. I think sometimes kids who are used to being breast fed get confused when the mom is feeding them from a non-breast food dispensing device.
  4. Sit her in front of the TV while cartoons are on and then try to feed her. Maybe the pretty colors will distract her.
    Good luck.


(disclaimer: I am not a parent)

It’s a stratagem!

Survival instinct.

Ditto everything jellyfish said, especially #1 and #3. Careful with #2. If she’s very hungry, trying to learn a new skill can make her anxious and it’ll make her resist the bottle even more. Imagine trying to take a test or master a new skill while you’re starving - you wouldn’t like it, either. Being a little hungry can make some babies more likely to take a bottle though.

Have you tried different feeding positions? Some babies want to take a bottle in exactly the same position as they breastfeed, others don’t relate the two at all. I had one kid that would only take a sippy and only while sitting up. Others want to be cradled and want the bottle exactly at boob height.

Does she take a pacifier? If all else fails, you can try and trick her with a hands-free bottle. I like the Podees. http://www.podee.com/

Brutal, but made me laugh.

Honestly, just give her no alternatives.

8 months is when you might expect separation anxiety, so this could be part of that. Try offering the bottle when mom is out of the house, and has been gone for at least 30 minutes.

Try a few different bottle nipples. Many people find breastfed babies like the playtex naturalatch nipples (mine both preferred something different though, so who can tell).

Try going somewhere different to offer the bottle than where she normally gets fed by mom. You might need to step out into the backyard, or just sit in a different room from normal, plus trying out different positions as Leah suggests.

If you were nearby I would give you the damn cupboard full of different bottles and bottle nipples I collected while trying to get #2 to take a bottle. #1 was less fussy about the bottle/nipple type, but hardcore about not taking a bottle from me or anything that reminded him of me, as in, he wouldn’t take bottles when he was in the house. Had to be at daycare or out and about somewhere.

If the dwindling milk supply is not a deliberate weaning, and she would like some help, PM me and I can suggest a couple of good resources on the internet to get free, knowledgeable help.

Have dad offer the bottle in a new and exciting way. What worked for us is holding the baby forward-facing (away from you), in front of a mirror, and doing an airplane-landing thing with the bottle into the mouth.

At 8 months your baby may be more comfortable feeding herself the bottle, so failing the airplane maneuver I’d try a sippy cup with handles.

Good luck!

Yeah, try what Jojo said. That sounds good.

Scream TAKE THE BOTTLE at the top of your lungs. Dur!


(I am not a parent, but my brother is and over the last nine months since the baby arrived this has been my first answer to any question of his relating to the baby.)

Thanks for the tips everyone.

Progress over the last 2 days:

Day 1 - I (the dad) got her up from her afternoon nap and took her into the bedroom, making sure she didn’t see/hear Mom. Tried Bottle A for about 30 minutes. She mainly just played with it, got pissed whenever something came out. Maybe got about 1/4 ounce out.

Day 2 - Mom is at work, so I got her up from her nap, went into the bedroom, and tried feeding her with Bottle B. She chewed on it for a little while, but got really angry when milk came out. Bottle B is a super fast flow bottle and whenever she pulled her mouth away it shot her in the face, so that probably didn’t help. I took her out into the living room where she played with some toys for a while. Went and sat on the couch with her, with the TV, and tried to get to take the bottle again. This time she ate about 1 ounce, but she just cried and screamed the whole time, pausing to suck from the bottle between screams.

So…I guess that’s progress? Certainly seems a lot harder then it should be.

If baby is used to really suckling hard because mom has a weak flow, a low flow nipple might be worth a try. The behavior you report, being surprised or upset when something comes out, is what our daughter had when we switched her to bottles at 6 months, and a low flow tiny-holed nipple was all she would take at first.