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Thread: EBF, Refusing a Bottle!

  1. #1

    Unhappy EBF, Refusing a Bottle!

    Please help! My 3 month old is refusing a bottle, and I must return to work in one month. I have EBF since birth and have been introducing the bottle to my daughter since she was 6 weeks old. From 6 weeks to now 13 weeks old, she has been refusing the bottle. I have tried just about everything and am looking for any additional advice. I have tried:
    - 8 different bottles/nipples and 2 sippy cups
    - cup feeding
    - my husband/sister/mother/MIL has tried giving it to her
    - I have tried giving it to her (I am actually one of the only people she doesn't scream with when giving the bottle)
    - I have been in the house, out of the house, and across the house in a different room during the attempts
    - we have tried giving it to her in many different positions, including those used during nursing
    - we have tried slipping the bottle in when she's sleepy or sleeping
    - we have tried dipping the nipple in breast milk, as well as warming the nipple before giving
    - we have tried many different temperatures of the milk
    - we have given her the bottle at feeding times and between feeding times, so she's either been hungry or content during attempts

    A lactation consultant that I've been in contact with told me that "she will take the bottle when you go back to work because she'll have no other choice, and she won't starve herself". The other day, when I was out of the house for hours, she went 9+ hours with my in-laws, without a feeding, and still did not take the bottle.

    My daughter has also never really taken a pacifier, and still won't. I offered her the pacifier at about 2 weeks old, and she never fully took to it. I waited until 6 weeks to introduce the bottle due to the fear of nipple confusion, but am now kicking myself that I waited too long.

    Any additional advice, tips, tricks, or opinions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: EBF, Refusing a Bottle!

    Hi taramcg, I am sorry you are having this concern!

    but am now kicking myself that I waited too long.
    Just so you can stop kicking yourself, there is no evidence that waiting to 6 weeks or any other age makes a significant difference when it comes to bottle resistance. iirc, the only study I am aware of that actually looked at age of introduction found age of introduction was not important when it came to whether or not baby resisted. It has been a while since I read this info, but as I recall the study measured babies who take a bottle easily, take a bottles after some resistance, and takes bottle after a great deal of resistance, and found a similar % of each at each introduction age studied. The study does not measure any babies who simply never, ever take a bottle no matter what, as this is very rare.

    Unfortunately it does seem that very, very rarely, a baby may not take a bottle no matter what. They just won't, at least that appears to be the case based on anecdotal evidence.

    I assume you have ruled out physical issues like excess lipase in your milk or any physical problem that might make it hard for baby to take a bottle. (I don't know what would cause a physical problem with bottles but not the breast, but I think it makes sense to be sure this is not even a possibility in such an unusual situation.) If so, here are some ideas.

    You are going back to work in a month, when your baby will be 4 months old. For many babies there is a pretty big developmental shift between 3 and 4 months. We know this affects nursing behavior and sleep patterns at this age in many babies. (In various and often unexpected ways.) In other words you might have a fairly different baby in a month's time. And at this point you have tried everything for 6 weeks and baby will not take a bottle or even expressed milk in an open cup! (That usually works!) So my first suggestion would be to back off bottles entirely for a while. Trying to get baby to take a bottle is not working, and if it is sometimes upsetting to baby, it may be hurting at this point.

    Below are some other ideas. Again we are in unusual territory here, so this is just brainstorming. I have no idea if any of this will actually work. But I am basing these ideas on things I know about babies and have heard work. These are not in any particular order and some would not work together, you would pick and choose or try one and later, the other.

    - If you do not want to or cannot stop all bottles, consider stopping them unless you have an unavoidable separation of more then 3-4 hours (or over an amount of time she would usually nurse, whichever is shorter.) If bottles from others make her scream, then she may have a learned resistance to bottles going on. The only way I know how to fix that is to stop bottles for a while.

    -when bottles are given, make sure they are SMALL. Less than an ounce at a time.

    -If possible, after a period of time with no bottles at all, try reintroducing the bottle gradually by letting her play with an empty bottle. Only if/when she seems very comfortable with it and mouths it, put any milk in it. Again, starting with a TINY amount. 1/4 ounce or less.

    -Try water or infant formula in the bottle instead of your milk (Controversial, I know. But if you are desperate? My theory is the smell of the milk with no mom attached is upsetting, so an entirely new smell and taste would awaken some curiosity.) Of course if it is water, you have to be very careful that it is safe water and in teeny weeny amounts. Ask you pediatrician before trying this. You do not want a baby this age filling up with water.

    -Eyedropper or syringe? Have you tried that?

    - any chance you can return to work part time or work from home for the first couple months?

    -or that caregiver could bring baby to work?
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; March 15th, 2017 at 07:13 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: EBF, Refusing a Bottle!

    Thank you for your response and for making me feel better about waiting until 6 weeks.

    Because it is so controversial, I didn't add it to the post, but I have tried formula for the exact reason of hoping a different smell and taste would spark curiosity. No such luck.

    I have never heard about excess lipase in breastmilk. How would this affect expressed milk but not bother her when she's nursing?

    I have not tried an eyedropper or syringe. Would I simply drop the milk into her mouth and have her swallow after each drop?

    I definitely do small amounts of breastmilk in the bottle each time, as I hate wasting it! I'm nervous to stop the bottle all together at this time, since I am going back to work so soon, but it seems as though I may have to give her a little break. I have heard that the change between a 3 month old and 4 month old is astonishing, so hopefully that will be the trick!

    I greatly appreciate all of your advice and suggestions! Anything additional is always welcome

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: EBF, Refusing a Bottle!

    Excess lipase means mom has more lipase in her milk than average. (This is not in any way unhealthy, her milk, fresh or stored, is just as good for baby.)

    In some cases, this causes the milk to start to have a soapy or metallic taste or smell after being stored. It is usually worse if the milk has been frozen.

    It does not change the taste of milk directly from the breasts. Many babies do not even care about the taste and smell of the stored milk so it does not matter anyway. But some do.

    Scalding freshly expressed milk before storing often works to prevent the lipase taste/odor from occurring. Scalding is a pain, but your scalded milk will still be the best thing for baby.

    Since your baby refused formula as well, then that reduces the likelihood the issue has to do with excess lipase. However it does not rule it out, as it is entirely possible baby disliked the taste/smell of formula.

    To test it you can compare baby's reaction to freshly expressed milk in the bottle vs. Milk that has been in the fridge for a day or so vs. Milk that has been frozen. Of course you can also taste your milk yourself, but I would still suggest testing baby's reaction as again, many babies have no problem with the taste. In other words you could have the excess lipase but that is not why baby is refusing bottles.

    I have not tried an eyedropper or syringe. Would I simply drop the milk into her mouth and have her swallow after each drop?
    You could maybe as a first step, but that would get super tedious. I think you would want to put the tip of the eyedropper or syringe in baby's mouth. For young babies you gently squirt the milk into the inside of baby's cheek so the milk is not being squirted down the throat and possibly getting aspirated. But at this age your baby can probably just suck it out with a little help from caregiver. I will post a video. I will also post a cup feeding video. I think cup feeding is worth revisiting. There is a learning curve to cup feeding but it usually does the trick when a baby is refusing bottles.

    I know it is nerve wracking to stop the bottle. But I think that is mostly because you are thinking that the problem is when you introduced the bottle or that it is necessary that baby be taking bottles every day before you return to work. But neither of these assumptions is true. Most likely the problem is your baby is one of those few babies who has decided bottles are to be avoided at all costs, perhaps has associated bottles with some thing negative (who knows what) and at this point may be having a stress reaction just seeing the things. Also, babies pick up on what is going on with the adults around them, and you are all probably having a stress reaction to trying to get baby to take a bottle as well. That is another reason a 'cooling off period" might be helpful.

    Medicine dropper feeding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUXnrojYUM0&t=4s

    Cup feeding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R95FUa7_s84

    Paced bottle feeding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH4T70OSzGs I know you have tried different positions so you may have tried this position already. Paced feeding also means caregiver helps baby take natural pauses, as shown here. This acts to make the bottle less stressful for baby as baby has control, as they do at the breast.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; March 18th, 2017 at 11:35 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2016

    Default Re: EBF, Refusing a Bottle!

    I went through the same thing and have been back at work for 6 weeks now (baby is 19 weeks).

    Dad stays home with her and sometimes she will take the bottle no problem and still sometimes she will reject it and cry until I return home. She will never take more than 1-2 oz at a time. Some days she's happy all day and others are miserable.

    Remember when you leave her at 4 month it will be only 2 months until she can start solids and that will take some of the burden off. Perhaps she will be ready for a soppy cup too and prefer that.

    Some things that helped us- she prefers the Bare bottle brand with the shorter nipple that you have to work to get milk out of, and it can be held at any angle. So she doesn't choke. Then my husband has to have her propped in a boppy- bottle in one hand and shaking a distracting toy in the other.

    Good luck!

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