Weaning a nursing baby who WON'T take a bottle!

Amanda - posted on 03/22/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )

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Hey all you lovely ladies out there in Circle of Moms land! I need some 'been there done that' advice from someone! I have an 11mo old baby girl who I am nursing who has flat out refused to take a bottle (with my pumped milk) since Day 1. Never took to bottles, or pacifiers for that matter. We are now coming around to the age where I am ready to start weaning her from nursing but have NO IDEA where to even begin with my little doll. She is my youngest of 3 but my older boys always took bottles along with the boob so when it came time to wean THEM (around 13mo with my oldest and at 14mo with my middle son) I basically just moved them from the breast to the bottle and then weaned them off the bottle. Since that isn't possible with my baby girl, I am a little lost. I would welcome and love any advice any of you out there who had babies like this could give. (And if it matters, she doesn't take a sippy cup either...just drinks from a reg cup) I think the biggest challenge will be putting her to sleep for naps and bedtime as no-one has been able to successfully get her down to sleep (even her daddy) except me, by nursing of course. Seemed so easy to do it that way, but now I am regretting the choice a little. Anyways...sound off ladies....what'd'ya got for me?

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Allison - posted on 03/22/2010

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WRT medications - Have you checked out Dr. Thomas Hale's book "Medication and Mother's Milk"? He also has a website. http://neonatal.ttuhsc.edu/lact/. He has more info on meds and breastfeeding than anybody. Just a good resource to have.

Also, once they hit 1 or so, they really don't nurse as much. The first year is a lot of sacrifice, but the second year not so much. You don't have the "round the clock" nursing anymore, you can actually leave for hours and even all day and they don't need it (cuz it's not their whole nutrition, more something they do when your around), and many moms nightwean their kiddos early in the 2nd year, so you're not up all night nursing.

Not trying to push you to nurse past when you're comfortable by any means, but if your daughter is so resistent, maybe relaxing your ideas a bit and knowing that it really *IS* different and not so much giving up a lot as you move past 1 might make you feel better. Your daughter seems like she is very spirited! I have one of those, too ;-)

I'd still recommend the book I mentioned above - it covers weaning really well and might help you find a happy medium if you find you're nursing longer than you'd ideally like. It covers how to set boundaries and limits so that YOU are comfortable, even when maybe you're making concessions because your daughter has other ideas. A couple things that is beneficial with nursing a toddler is that it helps with reducing the frequency, duration, and intensity of tantrums (and if your daughter is intense like mine, tantrums were frequent and out-of-control) and can help ease separation anxiety that tend to rear up again at 18 months. And, of course, the reduced frequency and severity of illnesses is always a plus - and this occurs even if they only nurse a couple times a day.

The only weaning I've done is nightweaning my oldest, and we did that at 19 months. I'll share what we did, since it might help you: she never really nursed to sleep at bedtime, but she often nursed a lot at night. We started to tell her she could nurse before bed, but not again until the sun came up. We started this in summer, when it gets light early and as it moved to fall she was able to go later and later (naturally because of the sun). I can't say it was easy - my husband was integral in making this work. Because she's a very insistent person, if she wanted milk and I was close, she'd get very upset. My husband did a lot of the nighttime parenting at that point (we also co-slept). It worked out ok....we started about 18 months or so and she was fully night weaned by about 19 months. After about 15 months or so, we didn't nurse out of the house, either. I'd just tell her we'd nurse when we got home. So if you wanted to limit nursing to being at home, you can also do that.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll find something that works for both you and your baby.

Allison - posted on 03/22/2010

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Maybe she's not ready to wean? Are you set on trying now or could you wait a bit? Especially since nursing for sleep is working so well - why change it now? All 3 of my kids nursed to sleep (well, the 10 month old still is) but they all stopped at some point, and it was a natural progression, not really one I had to push or fight about.

In one sense, you've already started the weaning process - she's getting solid foods, right? She's different from the older two...maybe this will be different too? I, personally, don't see a problem with kids over 1 nursing (but I believe in child-led weaning and my son is 3 and still nursing some and I'm also nursing a 10 month old).

Have you seen the book "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" by Norma Jane Bumgarner? It think it's really helpful in understanding the older baby/toddler's nursing and talks about how to go about weaning as well.

Cara - posted on 11/17/2012

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The trick for my daughter was using a latex nipple instead of silicone, the texture and pliability made all the difference also she liked the playtex bottles with the bags best because the milk came out like from the breast and she didn't have to tip the bottles up

Beth-Ann - posted on 03/24/2010

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Ok, my question is...why do you need a bottle at all??? Does she take a sippy cup? My dd weaned straight to a cup and we never needed bottles. Why the rush to wean? Babies and toddlers still get plenty of nutrition from breastmilk and lots of comfort in addition to the health benefits. She most likely still needs that comfort time at the breast and the longer you can give her that, the better for you both. If the sleep is the issue, you need to get dad involved and if she WON"T go to sleep with you there, then you may need to leave the house for an hour or two at bed time to let dad be the only one there to offer that comfort. Also you can nurse to sleep then let dad do all the rest of the night waking duties, that way you get more rest and she still gets her breastmilk. Check out www.kellymom.com for some more tips and info.

Brandy - posted on 03/22/2010

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My daughter was the same way. When I weaned her, I needed to not be in the room when she was having a bottle for the first couple days. If she could see me, she wanted the boob but if I wasn't around, she would take a bottle from her daddy, then when she was finished the bottle, I would come take over and rock her to sleep since she wouldn't go to bed for him either. Hope it works for you and hopefully you have somebody around to help you do this. My fiance works full time, so we just started with evening bottles, then once she got used to the idea, she actually started pushing me away when I tried to breastfeed during the day and only wanted bottles.

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Ania - posted on 11/08/2012

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Sippy cups, the ones with straws ;)

And I would either do CIO for sleep, or slowly and gradually reduce time at the breast for sleep

Shana - posted on 11/07/2012

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Jada is only breastfed too. and I am having the same problem. But on the sleeping issue, My little girl was sleeping in the bed with me when she was 9 months I tried the CIO method. It was tough but it worked. So now She goes to sleep at about 8 o'clock and wakes up at about 5 am. I have bought a new Sassy cup. It looks like a grown up cup. I am trying this hope it works.

Lizelle - posted on 03/24/2010

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My daughter also never wanted a bottle. We're still breastfeeding, but I had to introduce some water and even that she didn't want to drink. Ended up giving it to her in a cup and then one day she just grabbed her brothers sippy straw cup and started drinking. So now she drinks water and juice from a straw. So maybe try other bottles and cups.

Unfortunately I have no advice on the sleeping. My little one falls a sleep by herself, but if she's sick she also wants to nurse if she wakes at night, and I haven't been able to solve that one yet.

Good luck.

Beth-Ann - posted on 03/24/2010

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Ok so wow, it sounds like one of the biggest issues is the depression and feeling tied down. That's very normal to feel like that, and along with Allison, I don't want you to feel pushed to nurse beyond your comfort level. One year of breastfeeding is WONDERFUL! Good for you for that! I do agree with Allison's suggestions and I see now that you said she takes a regular cup. Toddlers still need that closeness to mom so make sure you set gentle but firm boundries and give her lots of hugs and love during the weaning process and you should try to be as patient and flexible as possible since some children are very sensitive to weaning. There are antidepressants that are compatible with breastfeeding..again, www.kellymom.com you can search medications that are safe during breastfeeding. There is a ton of helpful info on this site. Expect the weaning to be a process and to not happen overnight as this can be traumatic for a little one. And as for the biting...three strikes. Tell her no the first time, take her off the breast and say the same thing the second time and if she bites a third time she's obviously more interested in biting than in nursing at that moment and end the nursing session. Of course if she's biting hard only one warning would be good ;0) She'll get it pretty quick that if she bites the milk goes away. Good luck with everything! If you can get more time to yourself and maybe get some medications (even look the herbal route) to help with your mood, you may find you can take a bit more time to cut this particular tie...

Diane - posted on 03/23/2010

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Could you continue nursing just at bed/nap time and give her a cup the rest of the time? Once she gets the hang of that drop the nap time nurse and then eventually the bedtime one will go away easier.

Amanda - posted on 03/22/2010

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Thank you first 3 mom's for jumping in with some suggestions for me and my baby girl! First I will say that I tried EVERYTHING to get this stubborn princess to take a bottle. Even to where one Sat I said "Ok I'm just gonna refuse to nurse today and when she gets hungry enough she will take the bottle from her daddy..." well I was wrong wrong wrong. The poor lil thing went 10hrs without eating b/c she was NOT gonna take that bottle. Upon telling the story to my pediatrician he was quite shocked, said he had never heard anything like that before! Obviously I was not about to make a habit of letting her go hrs and hrs without eating so I said "Ok your will is just too strong, I won't make you take the bottle!" I know alot of Mom's nurse their babies well after their first year, and I understand the benefits of doing so, but that is just not for me. I resign myself to be pregnant for the better part of the year, and I resign myself to the knowledge that the first year after birth I will be tethered to my baby b/c of my desire to nurse for one full year. Call me selfish, but I just can't give beyond that. Never getting anytime to myself, always having to be responsible for her, no sleep, it just wears on me and after a year I am ready to move on from breastfeeding. I love my children deeply and try and do what is best for them, but also don't wish to 'lose myself' in being a mother either. I know it doesn't feel that way to some mom's, but it does to me after a year or so of BF round the clock! Plus the little bugger has developed a SEVERE biting problem recently and that in itself makes nursing difficult. I believe sometimes what's best for baby is whatever is best for mom. Another issue in my particular circumstance is dealing with some very difficult depression, anxiety and pain from arthritis. I am unable to take the medications that I need to cope with these problems as they are not safe for my nursing baby. So for me, breast feeding much past a year is not something I am wanting to do. Keep the great advice coming though...I appreciate every little bit of it from 'mom's who know!'

Hannah - posted on 03/22/2010

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Likewise, my daughter never wanted a bottle from the day she was born. I have tried several bottles, the only ones that worked for me are Adiri bottle, definately worth a try check them out!

I am having to leave my daughter with childcare and am worrying about all the same things as you... nap wise, I advise trying to teach her to get to sleep without nursing at day time naps (less stressful tan trying at night). The 'no tears' method involves laying them down - if they cry, pick them up - repeat until they eventually settle down. Time consuming, but the only sleep training method I know of that does not involve CIO and it does work in the end (for me at least, touch wood!) good luck!

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