Before our daughter, J, was born, we knew we wanted her to be exclusively breastfed. And at 10 1/2 months, she has still only had breastmilk. No formula. I am super proud of this fact; especially since breastfeeding takes a lot of work. There is a lot of patience, trial and error, and troubleshooting that goes into it. But what was even harder than breastfeeding J was trying to get her to take a bottle once our breastfeeding routine was established. So if you are struggling to get your breastfed baby to take a bottle, here are three useful tips that worked for us:
Experiment with different bottles.
Just because a bottle is supposed to be exactly like the breast or comes with a high price tag doesn’t mean that your child is going to like it. We tried several different bottles before discovering that J was willing to drink from Dr. Brown’s . We are glad that we made the discovery, but that also meant we had boxes and boxes of bottles that we had bought during our experiment. That’s why you also need to make sure that are buying bottles from a store with a great return policy. That way you will have no trouble returning the unused ones. Two stores that made it easy for us where Babies ‘R Us and Target.
Leave the house.
Don’t just go into the next room or go upstairs, but leave the entire house. I would wait until J was getting close to her next feeding, and then I would leave so Dad could give her a bottle. I found that if she was hungry enough she would drink from the bottle and eventually she discovered it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But if I was around, she would cry and cry. I am pretty sure her cries meant, “Why is he trying to give me a bottle when you are standing right there?!?!?!”
Include Dad in the breastfeeding too.
One of my favorite parts of breastfeeding was, and still is, the loving looks my daughter would give me as she stared up at my face. It is magical, and with all that staring, no wonder she began to associate me with food. As a joke, Erik gave me a new nickname: Food Truck. As in, “Don’t cry; the Food Truck is coming back.,” or “Look, the Food Truck is here.” It was funny but true. Mom=food. So we decided to include Erik in on the action. I would either sit or lay down to nurse, and Erik would get right behind me and put his face over my shoulder. This way, when she looked up, she saw both of us and would begin to associate both of us with feeding. It worked too! I remember the first time Erik did it, J had such a confused look on her face, but now she knows that both of us can take care of this basic need. There you have it. These are the three things that made it possible for J to eventually take a bottle. Believe me, once you have established a good breastfeeding routine and your baby is at least a month old, you’ll want to introduce the bottle. Because life happens, and you may end up with no choice but to bottle-feed (due to medications, procedures, etc.). Or you may just want an afternoon to yourself every once in a while. Either way, it’s good to have a backup plan. So how about you? What other tricks have you tried?
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