Bottle Strike

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6-month-old won't take bottle since first tooth came in

Dec 2004

I have a variation on the nursing strike. My 6.5 month old has been taking a bottle with no problem since she was 2 weeks old. Last week she sprouted her first tooth after several very painful days and now won't take the bottle at all. It doesn't matter what is in the bottle or even who tries to give it to her because she won't even taste it - just sees it coming and turns her head and tries to squirm away. I thought they didn't really have ''memories'' yet at this age, but my best guess is that she thinks the bottle will hurt her mouth. I should add, I'm also still breastfeeding (even the breast made her cry in pain a few times) and she has no problems with that but I work out of the house and pump during the week. I know nursing strikes typically last less than 2 weeks, but anybody have experience with bottle strikes? Michelle

My daughter went through both nursing strikes and bottle strikes, mostly when she was slightly younger (3-6 months). This did correlate with teething,as she cut her first teeth at 5 months. Though very frustrating at the time, it did not seem to do her any harm, and never lasted more than 3-4 days at a stretch. On her worst days, she only managed to get down 1 ounce of expressed milk by bottle, while I was away for 8 hours. In our case, she was able to make up for it at night, since we coslept and she was a devoted reverse-cycle nurser, nursing A LOT in the night. Even when she was on a nursing strike, she would still nurse in the night when she was half-asleep. I'm not necessarily recommending this for you, cosleeping is definitely not for everyone. But if you give her some extra chances to nurse as much as she wants in the mornings and evenings, hopefully she'll weather the strike and be back to normal in a few days. Perhaps your daycare provider can offer water in a sippy cup if you are worrying about dehydration? My daughter started drinking water from a sippy cup around 6 months. Evette

One-year-old will no longer accept the bottle

April 2002

My now almost 1 year old will no longer take a bottle. I work, but mostly from home and so have been able to nurse him during work hours most of the time. I used to express milk and have him use a bottle, which he took well. Then, a series of illnesses, vacations and the like, meant that he had no bottle for 6-8 weeks (around 9-10 months). Now he won't take a bottle at all, just chewing on the nipple and getting a little liquid. He's fascinated by cups, but isn't doing too well with a sippy cup. At this point, there are times I have to be away from him for 8 hours or more -- yesterday, from 9 am until after his bedtime -- and he still won't really drink much during this time. I thought he might break down and use the bottle when I was gone all day and evening, but no luck. Any ideas about how to either get him back on a bottle or get him to move more quickly onto a sippy cup? Sabrina

When I initially tried to get my then 13-month-old son to use a sippy cup, all he wanted to do was shake the cup and throw it. I tried it with the stopper in and with it out (a mistake, because milk went flying all over as he shook the cup). Finally, I just showed him how Mommy was drinking from the cup. I let him see me from a side view and face- on, and, amazingly, he drank, too. I guessed that he hadn't understood the principle of sucking out the liquid. Good luck. Gwynne

My daughter never drank out of a bottle - we tried every brand made! Luckily, I stayed home and could nurse her exclusively for the first 10 months or so. Finally, we discovered (by accident) that she liked drinking through a straw. So we bought some little straw cups by Playtex and all was well! Later we found ''juice box'' cups by Rubbermaid that also work and are much cheaper. Jaime

My daughter (17 months old) recently came down with hand- foot-mouth disease, and refused her bottle because of the blisters in her mouth. The only way she would drink her milk (which she was still taking in a bottle) was from a cup with a straw. There are lots of different straw- included cups/sports bottles available (I got some at Albertson's, they are probably elsewhere, too). Now that she is well, she has not gone back to the bottle, and takes milk from a straw-cup in the morning, and a ''sports bottle'' (with spill-proof valve) during the day. Maybe the straws would be the thing for your child. Good luck. Donna

My daughter is also one year old, and she doesn't use a bottle. She used to get expressed milk from a bottle, but she's eating more now. I still nurse her about three or four times a day (including before bed and first thing in the morning). She drinks all other liquids from a regular cup. We hold the cup for her so that she doesn't spill much. She's just starting to use sippy cups, but she hasn't quite figured out that she needs to hold the cup up for liquid to come out, so I'm helping her learn. If I were you, I wouldn't try to get him to take bottles anymore. He sounds ready to learn about cups, like my daughter, but he'll need lots of practice to get it right. He can drink expressed milk from a cup. My daughter drank expressed milk from a cup for a few weeks, but now she takes juice or water instead. Christina

You didn't mention if you are feeding your son solid food yet, nor how he likes it. But at a year old, I'd guess he's already got some favorites. If I recall the advice i've gotten through doctors, books and other parents, after a year, a child recieves most of his or her nutrition through solid foods, not through breast milk. You might want to check with your doctor on that. A year-old still needs a certain amount of milk, but it may not need to be strictly breast milk. If your doctor okays it--and you do too--try cow, goat, or soy milk. I also recommend the book Super Baby Foods for learning more about feeding an older baby.

But back to the bottle. Perhaps the problem isn't the bottle so much as what's in it. My son started taking the bottle again when I gave him anything other than breast milk--for that he wanted nothing but the natural container. He pretty quickly picked up using a sippy cup at about a year old, and likes a variety of different liquids. If you try a sippy cup, remember that you might have to try different kinds before you find one that your son likes.

You don't need to wean completely at this stage, even if most of your son's nurtition is coming from elsewhere. Breastfeeding will become something different, no less nurturing, but different. My son is 18 months old, and I remember feeling a small sort of loss when my milk became secondary to solid food. But now I love the changes and how he is growing. We nurse once or twice a day, and it's a very special time for both of us. And it's a blast to help him explore the world of food, especially here in Berkeley! Carolyn

We have never had any luck with sippy cups. But our 13 month old now drinks expertly from a regular cup. Sure, it takes a bit of supervision. We aren't fans of traipsing about the house with food and/or drink, anyways. Why not try going straight to a regular cup, and skip the sippy? And thank your lucky stars that you won't have to ''wean'' from the bottle! Debbi

Which sippy cups are you using that are causing your son trouble? My son had a horrible time with the Playtex ones at the same age. They are very popular, so they must work well for other kids, but my son couldn't get anything out. The valve was too strong for him. Instead we bought the cups made by first years. Instead of having a thick valve, the cup lid has a little plastic flim with a slit in it that was much easier for him. They are not as water-tight as the playtex though... they will leak if tipped over or upsidedown, but at least the baby can drink from them. Rose

Have you tried a sippy cup with handles on both sides. That seemed to be the key for my guy. Sharon