Before giving birth to my 8-pound, 1-ounce baby girl, I was overly concerned about whether or not I was going to be able to breastfeed. Nursing turned out not to be a problem at all, it came to me with ease. But weening her from my breasts to the bottle, when it was time to return to work was not the easiest task.
As a first time mom, I wanted to fully experience the joys of breastfeeding. During my pregnancy, I learned about the benefits of breastfeeding, which motivated me to try it with my newborn. As you may have heard before, mother’s milk is truly “liquid gold.” Mother’s milk provides essential nutrients that can’t be found in formula milk. Breastfeeding also helps a new mom to lose a couple of pounds. And it’s readily available, so it saves time and money. On average breastfeeding can help a mother save over $1k in the first year, which would have been spent on formula. And most importantly, nursing creates closeness between the mother and child with its skin-to-skin interaction. But what happens when your newborn baby becomes so adapt to your breast, that he/she doesn’t want to transition to a bottle?
I first introduced my daughter Kimani Lee to a bottle at 3-weeks-old. With her first bottle down, I thought that this would be as easy as breastfeeding. But she fooled me wrong. Every bottle following her first she would refuse, and I had a freezer full of milk that I had pre-pumped and stored. I tried introducing different types of bottle and nipple brands and giving her freshly pumped milk. I even tried having my daughter’s grandmother give her a bottle while I was in another room, and she took one bottle but refused the next at the following feeding time.
My baby started daycare at 3-months-old because I had to return to work. My thoughts were, “it’s my milk in this bottle, if she gets hungry enough she’ll drink it!” But luckily I have a patient daycare provider because Kimani was still being stubborn and refusing the bottle. It was considered a good day for us if she would even take an ounce or two.
Practicing at home practically turned into a comedy show. She would play with the nipple of the bottle against her gums and just smile and giggle. And of course, I was still giving her my breasts, because she had to get her fulfillment from somewhere.
By no means did it look like my baby was missing any meals with her chubby stomach and full cheeks, although she was practically starving herself at daycare waiting upon my return. I was concerned with her lack of milk consumption while at daycare, so I asked her pediatrician for advice on feeding at our next doctor’s visit.
I was informed at our doctor’s appointment that her refusal of the bottle was not a major issue, because she was on target for her weight. I was also advised to keep practicing with the bottle at home and informed that the introduction of solid foods was right around the corner.
Oddly enough, my daughter started latching onto the bottle two days after her doctor’s visit. Kimani Lee is now 4-months-old and drinking all of the bottles I pack for daycare. I truly believe she caught on because she was constantly seeing other babies drink from their bottles, and wanted to be able to do what they were doing.
Transitioning to a bottle with a newborn can be frustrating, but I have learned that patience is key. And I encourage other mothers going through the same predicament to remain patient and calm as well. I also recommend, that if you are concerned about your child’s weight or feeding habits, please do not hesitate to contact a pediatrician.
Inhale. Exhale. It’ll be okay.
At 13-months old Kimani transitioned smoothly from bottles to sippy cups. She still prefers nursing when she is with me and gives her daycare provider no problems when it comes to eating and drinking.
Yes, you read that right. She is still nursing.
She almost has a full set of teeth and is a pro at latching without biting. Thank God.
At home, I feed her solid foods and she loves water from her sippy cup. She’s also getting better at drinking from an open cup. She’s never been a fan of diluted juice, which I am perfectly fine with. The more water she has the better!
I promised myself that she was going to be done breastfeeding once she had her first birthday. But of course, that did not go as planned. Kimani is extremely demanding with breastfeeding. I tried restrictive clothing, and she would pull at my top and beat my chest in a tantrum.
I know at this point she prefers nursing more for pacifying herself rather than for my milk. It was extremely easy to recognize because she always depends on nursing to calm her down when she’s fussy.
Since Kimani’s 1st birthday, she’s also tried almond milk. But let’s just say she prefers mommy’s milk more than anything.
It looks like we are stuck self-weening.
But let me be honest… I’ve complained numerous times about how I want my body back, etc. But I’m not upset with the responsibility of nursing her. Kimani hasn’t been sick outside of the effects from teething and/or vaccination shots, and I contribute that to her receiving the remedy from my breast milk. I am amazed at what my body has been capable of. I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish as mother and daughter.
I think once we finally stop co-sleeping, that will be the end of our breastfeeding adventures. What do you think? She’s 17-months old.
Feel free to place your bets now.
– Crystal Iman
Update: Kimani self-weaned at 25-months. I jokingly said “no more” and she surprisingly agreed.