By now I think every mom knows the benefits of breastfeeding. But there's one hardcore drawback, isn't there? Breastfeeding baby means always being around baby, which ... well, can't always happen! So what's a mom to do when she has her best friend's wedding coming up or she's facing the dreaded end of maternity leave? Teach baby to use a bottle, of course.
Only any breastfeeding mom who has tried to introduce the bottle knows this is easier said than done. Some babies just do not WANT to take the bottle, and when baby ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
But have no fear ... help is on the way.
The Stir asked real moms who have made it past the battle over bottle to share how they managed to get their little nurser to take something other than her nipple:
1. Invest in Good Nipples -- If you've never bottlefed a baby, chances are you're going to walk into the nipple aisle of the local store and be absolutely confused by the sea of choices! If your baby is still in the newborn stage, look for a slow-flow nipple, which will release the food more slowly (not gush into baby's mouth and overwhelm them). There are also nipples out there that claim to be more like a woman's breast. There's no guarantee that they'll work any better than a regular one, but some moms we asked swear by them, so it's not a bad idea to pick up one of each the first time out.
2. Pump Your Breast Milk -- By the time a baby is 3 or 4 weeks old, your supply is usually good enough to allow you to do at least one pumping to make baby's first bottle. It will be a lot easier to introduce the foreign rubber nipple to baby if the taste of what comes out of it is familiar! If you're going to be using formula, that will come later!
3. Enlist a Helper -- Babies who are breastfed come to mom expecting to be put to the breast and may become increasingly frustrated when that boobie doesn't appear. A dad, grandma, or family friend will likely have a lot more success getting baby to eat from a bottle. Your best bet -- after Dad -- is to try to find someone who has bottlefed a baby before. It might also be necessary for Mom to leave the room entirely.
4. Hold Baby Differently Than You Do While Nursing -- Breastfeeding moms all have different styles of holding baby to nurse -- from the cradle hold to the football hold and so on. But if you're cradling baby as always, they'll be expecting the breast. Try holding them in a different way, preferably propped up so they can easily drink from the bottle.
5. Express Some Milk -- Baby might be confused by the feel of that rubber nipple, but several moms told us that their baby finally responded to the bottle after they'd squeezed out the breast milk onto the nipple, so they got the taste right away. This prompted them to start sucking and voila.
6. Try a Spoon -- Sounds strange, but one mom told us this helped big time in making the transition. It was a last resort after several attempts to get the baby to take a bottle, and it worked! She propped her son in the car seat and produced the spoon. He lapped at the milk on the spoon and learned that he could get milk from a source other than mom. She then re-introduced the bottle, and the baby took it.
7. Try a Medicine Dropper -- This tip came from another mom who said she was desperate after several bottle attempts, but again it seemed to help teach her daughter that milk could come from anywhere. In this case, the mom would give her daughter breast milk in the dropper after she'd already eaten some from the breast and therefore wasn't so hungry and desperate for a meal. She did it every day for a week before once again trying the bottle.
8. Breastfeed First -- A hungry, cranky baby is not always up for change -- would you be? Try nursing baby for a little while, but don't allow them to fill up on your milk. That way they're hungry but in a better mood and more apt to try something new. THEN let Dad step in to finish the job with a bottle.
9. Don't Give Up -- You certainly should NOT starve a baby who is refusing to take the bottle, but giving in right away and breastfeeding isn't helping anyone. A baby can survive 10 minutes without you nursing them! Many moms make the big mistake of giving in too quickly ... and the baby never learns.
What are your best tips for getting baby to take a bottle?
Image © Patrik Jech/Shutterstock and JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Corbis