My baby refuses milk for 10 days!!

Yes, my baby refuses milk for 10 whole days!! It started with me going back to work after my maternity leave. This was when he was 5 months old last year. You could have imagined my anxiety and worries! Milk is a baby’s staple food. If he doesn’t drink, then what?

Milk Bottle

I had the privilege of being a full time SAHM taking care of my 3rd newborn for 5 wonderful and enjoyable months. I love to stay at home to take care of my kids. When the day I dreaded most inevitably counted down to zero, there went my 4 months maternity leave and my 1 month annual leave. I had to face the struggle to leave my baby and go back to work. It’s cruel to leave a baby for work when a mother’s greatest joy is breastfeeding the baby, carrying the baby and be with the baby 24/7!

3 weeks before this day, I practised the milk bottle with YT every other day.  I had to let him get used to the bottle so that he could have my expressed milk while I was at work.  For 3 weeks, all attempts failed. He just refused the bottle. Each attempt could last up to 1 hour but YT did not cry or protest, he simply just played with the teat and refused to suck.  I totally agree with the books and experts and all: Mother and Milk Bottle just do not go well together for fully breastfed babies.

Come the first day of work, I called home and heard my baby crying in the background.  He refused the milk bottle and was crying profusely.  My heart broke and I really wanted to fly back home to offer him my breasts.  My mother-in-law, who was taking care of him could, in the end, managed a pathetic 50ml of milk for one feeding session and similarly for a second session.  And that’s all the baby drank for that day! 100ml! The milk intake was insufficient. Lots of expressed breast milk was wasted. He was given brown rice cereal for a meal and it was able to satisfy him for 3 hours.  Then it lasted till I was home 12 hours later to offer him his favourite breasts.  Poor boy.

Come the second day of work, I was afraid to call back to hear that he was not drinking.  We changed different teats, tried Pigeon normal and soft teats, tried Avent teats and tried Tommee Tippee teats (which had claimed many awards for being the next best thing to a breast).  We tried stopping brown rice cereal, hoping he would be hungry enough to drink from a milk bottle.  When I called home again, my mother-in-law feedbacked that the baby cried, drank little, cried and for one session, he drank 100+ ml.  This was an achievement and we hoped this could be repeated on the 3rd day.

That night when I looked at the baby, he seemed to have lost weight and lost his “michelin man” chubby arms and legs.  He only had 50-100ml for the entire 12 hours I was away from home. He seemed tired due to the daytime crying. I was really guilty and felt terrible.

On the 3rd day of work, I called a lactation consultant.  She said 5-month-olds are hard to train to wean off the breast to bottle as they begin to have a mind of their own to make a choice.  She suggested sippy cups and use of straws. I have heard of babies who never use a milk bottle and graduate to a sippy cup. But I doubt it works on my baby. Nevertheless, the moment I hanged up the call, I wanted to take a half day leave to rush down in a cab to buy sippy cups. Then, I stopped to reflect on my baby’s progress for those few days. Well, it seemed that he had some improvement each day.  In fact, he was making up for lost feeds in the day by waking up to drink more at night. It was really tiring for me, but I was more than happy to have him suck on my milk for as many times as he likes as long as he drinks. Maybe I should give him more time instead of introducing new sippy cup spouts which may confuse him with a new thing to learn yet again.  I did not call back that afternoon. When I returned home, baby YT was sleeping well and my mother-in-law feedbacked that he did suck continuously albeit only 40ml each time and each feed was divided into few smaller feeds.  YT was making good progress and for the first time I felt a bit better.

Then, on the 4th day on, it was a trial and error attempt with each feeding session. On some days, he drank more (150ml in 12 hours), on some days, he drank less (100ml in 12 hours). We decided to stick to just one milk bottle to be consistent. It was stressful for the caregivers and stressful for me who was helplessly worrying at the workplace. Everyone tried their own methods to get the baby to drink. My mum came over to try too. In the end, it was Kel who claimed the credit.

After what seemed like 10 months, on the 10th day, the baby decided to drink a 150ml full feed from the milk bottle at ONE go! It was Kel who fed him. You should have seen his smirk look. Finally, the baby succumbed to the bottle. I was happy, and also sad to think he might have given up fighting for his basic rights to his mother’s breasts. Aren’t mothers supposed to just stay home to nurse and care for the baby? Why does the society leave us little choice but to leave our young kids for more bread on the table? To all SAHMs who have the luxury to stay home to care for your kids, I envy you beyond words.

Throughout the 10 days of bottle-feeding battles, I was in a frantic search for solutions to get my baby to drink from the bottle. I found some lactation advice and tried on all of them. Here are the advice that I would love to share with all mums who face the same madness and mums who have decided to wean off their child from the breasts:

1) Use the same teat for all attempts.  It is not the teat that matters most, it’s more of the baby’s choice and decision to drink from a bottle.
2) Don’t call home repeatedly.  You will undermine the caregiver’s confidence in the attempts.
3) Don’t feed the baby when he is crying profusely.  Wait a while, distract the baby until he is calm, then try again.
4) Don’t feed the baby when he is very hungry.  Start when he is calm.
5) The baby is trying to adjust, so give him time and be very, very patient.

If ever we decide on a 4th baby, I would quit my job to care for my baby 24/7 and breastfeed for as long as he/she likes. The heartache of forcing the baby from breasts to a milk bottle is too much for me to bear. Nowadays it is a norm for mothers to work. Unlike our parents generation where most mums stayed at home to take care of kids, we now have to have double income for a more comfortable life. If I were to be a SAHM, adjustments will have to be made to the family to survive on sole income. But I am sure the kids would choose their mother to be home with them over any other privileges anytime.

Baby YT

Have you face milk bottle woes before? How did you overcome it?

I would love to know your story! Share with me in the comments!

17 thoughts on “My baby refuses milk for 10 days!!

  1. Z refused the bottle until she was almost a year old. I went back to work when she was 5 months old and she refused to eat until finally my mom would bring her to work for me to nurse her. It was horrible. I ended up having to give notice three weeks after going back to work. My mom wasn’t physically able to handle carrying around a 5 month old all the time and Z just refused to eat. It was tough, but we made it work.

      • She actually was only able to do it for 5 weeks 😦 but I still appreciated it immensely, at least she was willing until her back pain said no more.
        It was all for the best though because it prompted us to really start planning our trip! 🙂

  2. My guy also refused the bottle we skipped and went straight to a straw sippy cup at around 5.5 month’s. He did great but has never drank pumped milk. Only water. He will occasionally have orange juice or fruit tea. Still he doesn’t like or attempt to drink cows milk.
    My guy is 18months old and weaning is some thing I will need to start thinking about when I go back to work. When that will be I’m unsure of at the moment.

    • I never really believe a baby is able to use a sippy cup for a full feed at 5 months, but it seems many can! Your guy doesn’t need pumped milk as long as you are with him. Don’t go back to work so fast if you have a choice, I think the first few years of life are golden and we should spend as much time with our babies as possible. Thanks for sharing your experience here!

  3. I knew from the very beginning that I would be going back to work after 2 mo, and I knew that Mr. T would have to take milk from others in order to survive, so right from the beginning I did both breast and bottle, I didn’t want to have to fight the battle, plus, I had to interview for a new job as soon as I got out of the hospital having him, and so someone had to feed him! It was great. He would breast-feed, he would take expressed milk from a bottle and we never had any issues. Until he was about 5 mo old, and then he started getting ear aches. So, we switched from bottle to sippie cup and that helped.

    • You must be a highly sought after to be interviewed right after birth! How did you do that with a weak body and mentally all about the baby? What many are afraid is the confusion between breast and bottle. Mr T is so clever to drink from both and the sippy cup too! I wonder earaches are a result of lying flat to drink from a milk bottle. Is that the reason?

  4. I can’t really relate to all of it in the way that I was lucky to be able to stay home for 3 years with my kids. But the breast and bottle fight…
    The first one of mine was easy and quick to breast feed, and was happy to take the bottle if I wasn’t around.
    The second one would NOT take a bottle. And he was so happy to breastfeed that he did so for a minimum of 7 hours a day from 10 weeks on, the evening feeding took 3 hours (no breaks, at least not without somebody screaming there lungs out. But he did then mostly sleep through the night). If he would have been my first born, I would have probably just done it, even though it became just boring and I was eating like a horse and still completely exhausted every night. But since I also had a 1 year young big sis, to sit an feed for hours during the day was very inconvenient (it is amazing what all you learn to do WHILE breastfeeding…;)), and in my opinion a bit too much to ask from the 1 year old (not to mention the things she got into when I was a bit slower to check her out…). So I tried to get him take a bottle but he never really did. If he did, he’d take it from me but nobody else. However, I was home, so the few times I had to go, I knew it would only be a few hours and even though he wouldn’t drink a drop it wouldn’t harm him seriously. But I also tried to get him to eat a lot earlier than I had ever thought to make him more full and less hungry but for months he was only interested in boobs 😉
    I guess the difference is though, that maybe, if I would have gone to work, there just would not have been any other way and he would have succumbed? Btw, he still has a great appetite, lucky he eats food nowadays!

    • Lucky you to stay home 3 years with your kids! Many mums face difficulties in feeding their babies from a milk bottle personally. But your boy must simply love your presence! I understand what you mean about having a young but older sibling around. We all have to multi-task while breastfeeding the baby at the same time! It’s interesting to note that different babies take to the bottle differently. My older 2 had not much of that problem of weaning to milk bottle. Maybe that’s due to practising the bottle with water every other day. For my 3rd, it was a full 4 months without milk bottle and he just couldn’t accept why the change. Thanks for sharing your experience here Vilmar!

      • One of the reasons for us to choose to live in Finland was the fact that it actively (and financially) supports staying home with kids a bit longer than most other countries. The system doesn’t allow you to get rich if only one parent is working but it does allow you to survive, which was valuable enough for us. I do feel lucky.
        However, most likely I wouldn’t have stayed home for 3 years unless my kids would have been born so close together, after all, I actually like to work! I really enjoy going to work and doing “adult stuff” now, then coming home to my kids and having the weekends with them.
        Interesting post, I think these matters touch every mum, somehow the experiences are so… strong.

  5. P refused the bottle a bit like your YT. We gave up (I wasn’t working but I was studying and he was a very intense baby – so I craved a bit of a break!). We didn’t really try with T – I stayed home with her til she was over a year and then she just got by without milk til night time, but she could eat food and drink water by then.

    Ah, mothers and working! And the thing is our parents’ generation were really unique in having no job other than child rearing. Before that women often did both unless they were rich (then they socialised while other people did both for them) although a lot of women back then were what we’d call work-at-home, not exactly in office jobs.

    I think a lot of women are actually better suited to what we’ve always been doing – working and looking after kids at the same time. I read the results of a poll where most women in the survey said they really wanted to work part time with the rest of the time for family, a bit of a balance. I can certainly relate to that. Then you can do things like nip off for a few hours’ work between feeds and be home again before things get out of hand!

  6. Pingback: Why I breastfed for 9 months… | Kids "R" Simple

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