Author Topic: From breast to bottle: a gradual weaning method  (Read 14645 times)

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Offline ~ Vik ~

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From breast to bottle: a gradual weaning method
« on: June 18, 2010, 15:47:23 pm »
Due to various breastfeeding troubles, I pumped and bottle fed Dylan almost exclusively for the first three months. Once we were able to get back to full breastfeeding, I didn't offer any more bottles.  I was SO sick of pumping!!  But, the inevitable happened, and I needed to prepare for my return to work.  When Dylan was 10mo old, we figured that he should get used to taking a bottle for his day feeds again.  We offered the same bottles that he had had every day for nearly three months.  Of course, he refused them entirely.

We experimented with different bottles and nipples, trying to find one that he liked.  Different shapes, materials, flows, and he rejected every single one of them.  I was in a bit of a panic, as I was returning to work in less than 2 months and he *had* to be drinking from something other than me!  We went to see his doctor, who gave us three main tips:
1. pick one specific bottle
2. pick one specific feed
3. if formula is rejected, try expressed breast milk (ebm)

We were instructed to pick one bottle and stick with it for a while, at least a week if not longer.  The doctor said that bottle feeding is so foreign to exclusively breastfed babies that changing bottles every couple of days (which was what I was doing) was really counter productive: It doesn't allow the baby time to get used to any one - so of course Dylan was rejecting them all!

So we chose the Playtex drop-ins for a few reasons:
- it was the bottle he had rejected the least (if that makes any sense)
- the nipples were wider and slightly more like breastfeeding
- the nipples were available in a variable flow (very important for us, even slow flow nipples allow milk to just drip into Dylan's mouth and he didn't like that; with variable flow the harder he sucked the more he got, but if he didn't suck he didn't get anything - like breastfeeding)
- they had a collapsible bag which created a vacuum so there was always milk in the nipple, you never had to hold it the *right* way (this was also very important, as Dylan did NOT want me to hold a bottle for him, the vacuum allowed him to hold it himself in any position he wanted, even while crawling)

The other piece of advice my doctor gave was to choose one feeding to replace at a time.  Once Dylan was taking one feeding well from the bottle, then move to the next.  At the time, ds was nursing at 7, 11, 2/230 (before 2nd nap because of long A times) and before bed.  We started with the 11am feed.  I put him in his bouncy chair (did NOT want me to hold him in the early days) in front of the TV (baby einstein, he did a bit better when distracted) and gave him a small bottle (about 3/4oz) of ebm.  (We had tried formula and he rejected it outright, so I pumped).  I would let him play with the bottle, chew on the nipple, etc - as long as he wasn't upset, I left him to it.  I would stroke his head or rub his legs too.  If he dropped the bottle, I would hand it back casually and if he didn't want it that was fine.  If he got fussy I would take him out of his chair and let him play.  I continued to casually offer the bottle (just handing it to him while he was playing), but with no pressure.  I fed him his normal lunch around 1230, and tried the bouncy chair/TV bottle one more time around 1/130.  Once he refused it then, I didn't offer it any more and breastfed at our normal time.  The first day I think he took a couple of sips, but over the next couple of weeks he started taking an oz, then two, then drinking the whole bottle!  Once he was drinking well (about 4/5oz consistently) we moved to the 2pm feed.  This one went much more quickly as he was already drinking well from the bottle.

Using this method, Dylan was consistently drinking 4-5oz of ebm from a bottle for his daytime feeds in less than one month!  The trick for us really was consistency:  one bottle, one feed, and a liquid that he was already familiar with (ebm).  I didn't push it, really just let him take it as his own pace.  I made sure that I had enough time to work with a gradual method before my return to work - I didn't want to go cold turkey except as a very last resort, as I know that that can be stressful for both mom and baby.

So that got him drinking ebm, but how to get him to drink something else?  Dylan rejected formula outright, and then rejected soy milk (dairy allergy) when we tried to introduce that too.  My pumping output really started to decrease around 16mo (and, again, I was SO sick of pumping! :)) so we made a gradual transition to soy milk for his milk during the day:
Week 1: 4oz ebm, 1oz soy
Week 2: 3oz ebm, 2oz soy
Week 3: 2.5oz ebm, 2.5oz soy
Week 4: 2oz ebm, 3oz soy
Week 5: 1oz ebm, 4oz soy
Week 6: all soy
We didn't have any problems with rejection along the way, so this worked quite well for us.  This *schedule* could easily be altered to go more quickly (for example, 1oz every 3 days instead of every week), or more gradually if you encounter rejection along the way, so this is a nice way to transition.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 03:54:47 am by Vikki ~ Dylan's mommy »
D ~ dairy, egg, peanut/nut and mustard allergies
Proud to have breastfed for over 24 months!