Help! My baby won’t take a bottle!
A desperate mother finds an unconventional way to wean the baby from breast to bottle.

I had a couple of weeks left of maternity leave and a BIG problem: my breastfed baby point-blank refused to take a bottle.

According to the experts, our first mistake was waiting more than 6 weeks before introducing the bottle. Of course, we only started consulting the experts once we realized we had a problem, by which time it was too late.

And so we embarked on a campaign to teach, coax, beg and trick the little guy into the joys of rubber.

The bottle battle

Over the following weeks, we tested out several brands of bottles, from the most basic models to those with sophisticated ergonomic teats. We tried breast milk in a bottle, and formula in a bottle. We tried water in a bottle. We tried warming the bottle. We tried dipping the teat in gripe water.

We tried enticing him with a dummy (he spat that out and looked at us as if we’d tried to put a dirty nappy in his mouth).

We tried presenting the bottle as dinner, and we tried offering it as a nightcap after a breastfeed. We tried to fool him by slipping it in while he nibbled at the boob; we tried letting other people give him the bottle while I was out (lest mommy’s scent would make him lust for breast).

We tried feeding him sitting up, and we tried feeding him lying down. We tried in the morning, and we tried in the evening. We were beginning to feel like extras in a warped Dr Seuss story: ‘I will not take that bottle, Ma’am. I will not try it, Sam-I-am!’ And we were on the brink of starving the poor child into submission.

Then one day my husband, once again surveying the display of feeding paraphernalia on sale at the local baby megastore, stumbled upon an idea. Or rather, he stumbled upon an item that gave him an idea.

Wedged between the bottles and the breast pumps was a product called nipple shields. Advertised for breastfeeding women with sore or cracked nipples, the shields promised that “Baby won’t even know they’re there”.

Hmmm, thought the desperate and sleep-deprived but oh-so-resourceful man. If Baby can have the full breast buffet whilst getting used to the feel of rubber in his mouth…

A piece of plastic genius

Not ONE book, website, or even know-it-all relative had recommended this method. But we were desperate, so we gave it a shot.

I’d never used nipple shields before. It felt a little weird at first, but after a few minutes of making sure the boob was still well and truly there, Baby happily munched his lunch through the latex strip. We pursued this campaign for about a week before attempting to introduce a bottle by the same company, with a teat comparable in size and shape to the shield.

I’m not going to pretend that Baby then fell in love with the bottle, but he took it. And I was able to go back to work, knowing that he wasn’t going to starve in my absence. God bless those little strips of plastic – they saved my career, and my sanity.

How did you get your baby to take a bottle?

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