Our baby never drank from a bottle

When you search terms like, ‘get baby to bottle feed’ or ‘breastfed baby won’t drink from a bottle,’ all you get are articles on how to try to get them to drink.

If you are looking for an article like that, this is not one. This article is about how our baby NEVER drank from a bottle and what this working mom and stay at home dad did to get through it.

While going through this ordeal, it was a huge challenge, life was hard, we were tired, and there came a point where we felt like we would never get through it.

Spoiler alert: We did get through it! And hopefully, our story will bring your comfort if you are going through a similar situation.

However, make sure to visit your child’s healthcare provider to ensure your baby is healthy and growing properly.

Our baby only wanted boobs not bottles

Our journey began with parenting classes. During my pregnancy, I dragged my husband to over ten different parenting classes on all sorts of topics. Ultimately, what we learned was the importance of breastfeeding.

Since all the knowledge I gathered focused on breastfeeding, I was determined to do it. Let me tell you that in itself was a journey! I spent every day trying to master nursing my baby, rese­­arching tips and tricks, when finally at around the two and a half month point, my baby and I got the hang of nursing. It was not perfect, but we were both happy.

That led to another challenge. After painstakingly trying to prevent ‘nipple confusion,’ by the time we were ready to give her a bottle, she did not want it.

For the rest of my maternity leave, we tried our best to get my daughter to drink from a bottle – she refused.

She never wanted the bottle’s nipple in her mouth. When we finally did get it in her mouth, as soon as she tasted the milk, she would spit it out and scream. Even though it was my pumped breastmilk!

Going back to work

I went back to work when my baby was about four months old. I work nine hour days. On a daily basis, my baby spent 10 hours straight not eating anything.

It was agonizing.

It was difficult being at work all day worrying about her not eating. I would spend my days hoping that today would be the day she would cave in and finally drink from the bottle.

It was stressful for my husband who spent the whole day with her while she basically fasted. He would try to give her a bottle and would deal with her screaming anytime that milk touched her tongue. It got to the point where as soon as she saw the bottle she would scream and cry.

We tried all the advice we were given on how to feed a baby when they refuse a bottle:

  • We tried every bottle on the market with different flows and contraptions
  • Sippy cups
  • Straws
  • Syringes
  • Warm milk
  • Cold milk
  • Ice cubed milk
  • Giving it to her while she was falling asleep
  • Giving it to her while she was in a good mood
  • Skin to skin
  • Breastfeeding then slipping the bottle in her mouth
  • We even tasted the milk often to make sure it was not spoiled
  • Formula
  • Freshly pumped milk
  • Milk that had been frozen

We spent hours researching what we could do but nothing worked. We tried different techniques, we tried to get different people to feed her, different locations. Anything and everything that was recommended, trust me, we did!

By the time I got home from work, she would cry as soon as she saw me and all she wanted to do was nurse.

Working and nursing was my life

I breastfed my daughter all evening long and throughout the night. I would even wake her up around 4 a.m. to feed her before I got ready for work around 6:30 a.m. just so I knew she would at least be okay in the morning.

There were a few times when she was not doing well, so my husband brought her to work and I nursed her during my lunch hour.

My old schedule revolved around nursing and pumping:

  • 4:00 am-6:30 am Nurse baby and put her to sleep
  • 6:30 am-07:00 am Get ready for work
  • 7:30 am-4:30 pm Work (pumping around 10 a.m. and noon)
  • 5:00 pm-7:30 pm Nurse baby
  • 7:30 pm-8:00 pm Eat dinner
  • 8:00 pm Nurse baby and go to sleep
  • 10:00 pm – 4:00 am Nurse as needed, which was often

My first few months back at work I was either working, nursing, pumping or trying to sleep.

That was my life, both my husband and I were exhausted and worn out.

When I looked for support online, all I could ever find were articles on how to get your baby to drink from a bottle. I never read a single one on what to do if those tips just never work. But that is exactly what happened, nothing ever worked. We were in the dark about whether it was normal or not.

To the parents who may be going through a similar situation…it turned out to be our normal and since then we have met people who have gone through the same thing. Of course, as always, consult with your doctor, that is exactly what we did.

When and why we stopped trying to bottle feed our baby

After trying to get our baby to drink from a bottle for what felt like a LIFETIME, our baby was around six months when we started to back away from offering her the bottle. At that point, our doctor let us know that she was growing at a normal rate and was progressing amazingly.

We were relieved when our doctor told us that babies are extremely resilient and his concern was more for my lack of sleep.  Could you believe that? He was more concerned about me!

That really made me feel like everything was going to be fine.

He explained to us that she treats her days like nights and vice versa. The way a baby can go the entire night not eating or drinking – they can do the same in the day if they get fed at night. And since she was getting enough in the evenings and at night she was just fine.

Once I let him know that I was okay feeding her at night and any extra time I had with her, he suggested we start feeding her solids, such as cereal and oatmeal. She did not enjoy the solids too much but ate just enough to make it through the days a bit stronger and more satisfied.

She was still a handful because she wanted to nurse, but my husband had his routine with her that involved lots of naps and baths.

9 months and beyond

As she got older we slowly began to ease her into more solids and her routine went from fasting all day while I worked – to playing a bit more and enjoying time with her dad. She was a much happier baby and not just after she nursed, which was how she was before.

She enjoyed eating fruits and vegetables. In fact, the first solid she actually ate was a strawberry. I was drinking a strawberry lemonade and she grabbed the fresh strawberry off of the side of my glass and took a huge bite of it with her four baby teeth!

She was ready for real foods.

At nine months, our doctor allowed us to give her even more solids and at that point, things were on a glide path. Her days were going well, but we would still spend the bulk of the evening nursing. At this point, life was good. We no longer worried about her drinking her bottle during the day at all. It was just the way she functioned.

At around her first birthday, she slowed down on the nursing, so we were able to do more activities in the evenings and not revolve everything around her nursing. By this point, she had almost a full mouth of teeth and could eat anything. She was walking and was more interested in exploring.

Current Progress

She is currently 18 months old, still nurses in the evening, at bedtime and I still sneak in a nursing session before work. During the weekends I am her buffet when it comes to nursing. I think due to the whole experience, I am fine letting her self-wean and letting her nurse as much as she wants.

It is still an important part of our relationship and she will occasionally skip a feeding here and there. She uses sippy cups and straws and never drank from a bottle.

She loves to drink cold water, she does not like juices and eats a variety of foods. She is learning and growing at an excellent rate. We could not ask for a healthier or smarter daughter.

I do not think her early days of fasting and not taking a bottle has had an effect on her.

What about all your pumped milk?

I had tons of pumped milk! As I worked my breasts would fill up, so I had to take time from my day and pump at work. It was painful when I was unable to pump. So I ended up pumping at work until my daughter turned one.

Since she never drank my milk, I accumulated a good amount of milk in my freezer. I ended up donating it to The Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin.

It is a great organization that collects donor milk from pumping moms and passes it on to babies that are in need of the breast milk. This organization is doing so much good for the neediest tiniest babies! I am going to write an entire post about the organization and the process I went through to donate. So be on the lookout for it!

Final thoughts

I wrote this post because I want parents out there to know they are not alone if their baby is not taking a bottle. Or not wanting to eat anything except breastmilk straight from the source.

No matter how hard we tried, we just could not get her to drink my milk other than from my breasts. In the end, there was not much we could do about it.

I hope my story has provided you with some comfort if you are going through a similar situation.  If you are still nervous about your baby, do whatever you can to make sure that your child is healthy and growing at the appropriate rate. Visit your baby’s healthcare provider to make sure there is not anything wrong with your baby.

My story is just one of many.

While it was a tough situation for a few months, we got through it. Knowing from her doctor that she was fine is what made it bearable. That is how I exclusively breastfed while even working 9 hour days, something I could have never predicted.

Being able to donate my milk was one of the best things I could have done with all of my extra milk. So in the end, our daughter’s refusal to drink pumped milk turned out to be a lifesaver for other babies.

Are you going through something similar? How are you getting through this? Share your story below by commenting or reach out to use through social media. Thanks!

Did you enjoy this post? Please subscribe! You can find more related articles below:

Learn about my husband’s toddler routine here: Stay at Home Dad’s Toddler Routine from Foo Fighters to Bath Time

Learn all about pumping at work, it comes with a supply list here:  An Extensive and Detailed Guide to Effectively and Quickly Pumping at Work

Learn how to increase your milk supply at home here: 7 Quick Ways Working Moms Can Increase their Milk  Supply Now


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