A common question that we get asked, from mums desperate for some help.
A mother writes “I’m trying to get my baby used to a bottle with not much success. She’s 8 weeks old and has always been pretty fantastic at breastfeeding. I’m planning on going back to work when she’s about 6 months but it could be sooner. That’s the main reason I wanted her to be able to take expressed breast milk from a bottle. But also I’ve been told it might help settle her in the evenings, rather than wearing me down with frequent cluster feeding. Also, it would be great if someone else could feed her if I need to go to an appointment etc.
We initially tried her on a bottle with a tommy tippee slow flow teat (number 1) when she was about 6 weeks, and she drank it really quickly. I was probably falsely reassured because we didn’t try it again for a couple of weeks. We’ve tried it every day for about the last 5 days, and it seems to be getting steadily worse. We’ve tried using the chuchu teat as well, and at different times of the day. She seems to have figured out that she prefers breastfeeding, and that she will get this option if she decides not to take the bottle. Any suggestions?”
It is such a common thing and those little babies can get quite picky! There certainly are some babies that know that its easy to get breast milk from a boob rather than a bottle. Its good that you’ve got the ChuChu teat, that was the first thing we were going to suggest.
Try getting her use to the teat. Perhaps put in some cooled boiled water in a bottle, and just let her use the teat and get used to it, more like a play thing, rather than getting stressed at feeding time.
You might need to squirt the water into her mouth with the teat a couple of times.
It can get really stressful if you are trying to do the bottle thing, right when a feed is due. Mum gets stressed and baby gets stressed, so you just give in and breastfeed.
You could try putting a tiny smear of marmite on the end, just so that baby is interested in a new taste and puts in her mouth.
It is so stressful introducing a bottle with your expressed breast milk, it takes so much work to get that milk, that it can be soooo disappointing if it goes to waste. So yes, try doing it with water first at a non-meal time. Then hopefully, when baby does take the water, you can try with just a small volume of expressed milk and then increase the volume when you know she will take the bottle.
We also suggest that you try it after the morning nap. It may sound hard, but you should perhaps go out of the house for an hour, and try and get someone else to feed her. It will be stressful for them, but may be beneficial having you away from home, as baby wont be able to see you, smell you and your breast milk, and you wont be able to give in.