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Thread: Refusing bottle and/or refusing breast

  1. #1

    Default Refusing bottle and/or refusing breast

    Looking for some advice or insight from a seasoned mom. I'm a FTM to a 9 month old little boy. He's been EBF since he was born, I went back to work when he was 3 months old and have been pumping 3x/day since going back to work. My mom watches him during the day, and I'm typically gone about 10 hrs all together including my commute and I leave her 12 oz. Recently, my LO has been giving my mom an increasingly difficult time taking bottles (never had an issue before now), and was only taking 6-8 oz all day while I was gone, and at this point, the only place she can get him to take a bottle at all is when he's sitting in his car seat (a place where we've never fed him before now). Anyone have any experience with this?

    He loves to eat solids and has been doing great with different textures and flavors, and we've slowly increased the amount that he gets. He's eating 3 meals/day and sometimes 1 snack. Usually cereal w/ BM and fruit at breakfast, some fruit and a vegetable at lunch (more recently we've been introducing a couple TBSP of yogurt), and then a more protein focused item along with vegetable at dinner. He only bites on sippy cups, won't drink from them yet. I've kept him on the slowest flow nipple which he's done fine with. I ran it by my pediatrician and the only input they had was that he needs a decreased amount of BM at this point and it might be time to increase the amount of solids we're giving him. This seems like a behavior/developmental type of thing to me, but I can't know for sure.

    To make things a bit more complicated, this past couple of days I was snowed in at my house and my mom stayed with me since my husband got stuck out of town for work due to the weather, and when my mom was around, my LO would give me a harder time when I tried to nurse him. The first night she stayed, he refused to breastfeed, he started crying and arching his back away from me as soon as I sat down in his rocking chair in his room (where I always feed him); so I ended up giving him expressed milk in a bottle. He did the same thing to me tonight, after my mom had already left my house for the day. I tried several times to breastfeed him, and each time he started immediately crying, wouldn't latch on, and tried to get away from me. I ended up giving him another bottle of expressed milk. Is this a nursing strike? He doesn't fight me in the middle of the night at all or before he sees my mom. I'm at a loss for what to do and a bit heartbroken, to be honest.

    Anyone who made it through this novel deserves a cookie, and I would greatly appreciate any words of wisdom. Thank you!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    10,028

    Default Re: Refusing bottle and/or refusing breast

    Hi and welcome!

    The first thing I will say is this is an odd age. It is an age when feeding issues seem to arise. You have two things going on, bottle reluctance and a "partial" breast refusal or nursing strike. For a 10 month old, assuming you want to continue to nurse, the breast refusal is much more serious and I would suggest do not even worry about the bottles so much. Here is why:

    For a baby who is enjoying eating solids 4 times a day, a reduction in intake of breastmilk from bottles over the same period would be expected. Unlike nursing, which a baby does for many reasons, bottles are almost entirely about hunger and thirst and so would be offset by solids and other liquids normally. Also a baby this age can start to be fed with a sippy cup if bottles themselves are the problem. Additionally, as a baby approaches 12 months, appetite tends to normally decrease as baby's gain rate slows down. If you think your baby is displaying a low appetite, you could have baby checked for low iron. But assuming normal gain and development this is not likely the problem.

    I would not suggest increase the intake of solids. Why would you do that? The amount he is eating now is (possibly) reducing what he will take in a bottle. Since your milk is more nutritionally complete than any other foods he can eat, the last thing you want to do right now is increase solids and encourage less breastmilk consumption. I would not suggest reducing solids either, he likes them and they are working for him, so great. But here is what I would suggest: If baby is getting any water or juice, I would suggest stop or reduce those. Thirst is a great motivator and breastmilk provides the best form of hydration a child can get. If baby is being spoon fed purees, you could talk to your caregiver about trying giving baby "real" foods they can pick up, bite and chew themselves. Baby learns to eally eat, and gets the joys of eating without over eating These changes may also help with the breast refusal, if baby being sated by solids is harming his desire to nurse.
    this past couple of days I was snowed in at my house and my mom stayed with me since my husband got stuck out of town for work due to the weather, and when my mom was around, my LO would give me a harder time when I tried to nurse him. The first night she stayed, he refused to breastfeed, he started crying and arching his back away from me as soon as I sat down in his rocking chair in his room (where I always feed him); so I ended up giving him expressed milk in a bottle. He did the same thing to me tonight, after my mom had already left my house for the day. I tried several times to breastfeed him, and each time he started immediately crying, wouldn't latch on, and tried to get away from me. I ended up giving him another bottle of expressed milk. Is this a nursing strike? He doesn't fight me in the middle of the night at all or before he sees my mom. I'm at a loss for what to do and a bit heartbroken, to be honest.
    This could be a beginning of a strike, and it is very possible that the abrupt change in routine brought on by the snow is the culprit. Whatever the cause of the lack of interest in nursing, try to not take it personally as it is not personal!

    Strikes can be very shortlived, last a long time then mysteriously end as abruptly as they began, or go on forever, essentially, leading to baby weaning. Which it is depends in some cases to some degree on how mom and other family members handle the strike, although of course it also depends on baby and just luck as well.

    I suggest, keep gently encouraging baby to nurse as often as you can. If it upsets him when you offer, you might try being more subtle, such as just getting topless and letting him approach you.

    Maybe he is sick of the rocking chair. Try nursing different places, lying down, etc. Also the rocking chair may be cramping both of you. A baby this age often needs to be nursed in a different position then earlier so they have room to comfortably lean their head back a bit and their chin does not tuck.

    Try to avoid the temptation to reward breast refusal with a bottle. I assume your child is healthy and developing normally, and at 10 months knows where the milk is and how to get it out. You do not say anything about being concerned about your milk production, so I assume that is not the problem. A bottle can be useful if a baby is upset and baby gets just a little in the bottle and that calms him enough to nurse. I am not saying never give a bottle when baby is refusing to nurse. I am just saying, be careful about it. A healthy 10 month old is not going to be harmed by the occasional missed nursing session.

    Here is the best article I know of for nursing strikes. Sometimes you have to try the same things again and again before something clicks: http://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/nb-...ack-to-breast/
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; March 17th, 2017 at 03:22 PM.

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