Baby Won't Take the Bottle from Dad

Updated on August 31, 2009
E.G. asks from San Francisco, CA
19 answers

Hello Mamas!
I am going on my second week back to work from maternity leave. My 4 month old baby boy, who has pretty much been exclusively breast fed, will not take the bottle of breast milk from my husband who is with him during the day. My husband has tried different types of bottles and nipples (Playtex Drop-Ins, Avent, Dr. Browns) , putting a piece of my clothing close to him while he feeds, putting a little milk in a spoon first and also putting sugar on the end of the nipple. None of these things work...our pediatrician said "he will eat when he's hungry"...but the other day he went from 8:30am to 5:00pm without eating! It's stressing my husband out as well as me and I'm sure our sweet little boy. Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!!!!

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So What Happened?

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who responded to my requests for help...we found that the Breastflow bottle by First Years worked great! My husband just needed to make sure the milk was warm enough, put the nipple of the bottle far enough in the baby's mouth to get him to suck and with a little patience...he chugged the milk down! Now I'm worried that I won't be able to keep up with the amount of breast milk he's eating every day! It seems like he eats more now that he's on the bottle!!! If it's not one thing, it's another right?! Anyway...thanks so much!!! It's a huge relief!

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C.B.

answers from Sacramento on

My son at 4 months old would not take breast milk from my husband. He gave up and offered formula and he took it. From this point on he would only take formula in a bottle yet continued to nurse when I was home until he was 18 months old. I feel he had the best of both worlds. Now he is in 6th grade and a straight A student!!! Rarely sick! If you cover up when nursing with a blanket, have your husband do that too. It may help. Another baby I know had to be fed this way.
Best wishes from an old Mom. :)

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O.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Hello E., I read some of the other posts and no one mentions this. Do you work far from home? Can your husband bring the baby to you. Instead of taking a break to pump have dad bring in the baby for a feeding. My husband and I did that for our daughter and it tended to work out most days. This way if dad can not get baby to take the bottle there is still the option to get in one good meal and more relief for the both of you. Good luck. My son hates the bottle too. I return to work next week. Let me know if you want to swap stories.

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H.M.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi E.,
I sooooo feel your frustration! I went through a similiar situation and spoke to a lactation nurse. Two suggestions: It could be the position that the bottle is being given to him. Have your husband hold the bottle and your son exactly as it would be if he was nursing from you. Many dads don't do this because it seems odd, but it will help calm your son. Second, DON'T have anything that smells like you around. Smelling the mama may stimulate his wanting to nurse. Babies can smell their mothers so accutely and sometimes this only makes it harder for someone else to soothe them. I know my children would never take a bottle if I was anywhere in the house! My other thought is the temperature of the breast milk??? Also, remember that breast fed babies eat when they are hungry and it may seem like some days it's nonstop and others, never. A good way to think about it is a baby eats in a week what they need as opposed to us eating in a 24 hour period. When he gets older, there may be days he eats only meats, and no fruits or veggies, and then the next only veggies, etc. If your son seems healthy and content, just hang in there and keep trying the bottle!!! Best wishes.

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S.K.

answers from Sacramento on

I am a working mom that is now on my 3rd kid exclusivly bf. Your doc is right he will eat when he is hungry enough. I know it is stressful, but some babies just want their mom. Have dad keep trying every 2 hours, but if he is stressed the baby is going to feel it. If it doesnot work relax, he will eat when you get home. Iknow it makes it a tough night but it will soon pass. Don't waste too much milk trying though, I know how golden it is (as I am pumping at work while I write this)it should male you feel good how much your babyloves you!

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K.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Do you breast feed him as soon as you get home? If so, he's just waiting for you. Consider exclusively bottle feeding him for a week or so and have Hubby do it. Even when you are home. The little guy will get the picture, and you can go back to your old way of feeding.

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K.J.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi E. - I just sent you a person msg with my email. Some times it helps to talk with others who were in your shoes. Have Dad try walking around with baby facing out to look around and then offer him the bottle while walking.. My little girl would take it best that way when she finally did. Even if he's not sucking on it just let him have it in his mouth to get used to it. Also, if it doesn't drip on it's own squirt a little in his mouth so he gets a taste of it.

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D.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Greetings E.: I didn't look at the other responses but sure that you have gotten alot of people that have responded.
I am the mother of 5 and now have several grandchildren & we are also experianceing this very same thing.
My new Granddaughter, is the light of my sons life and yet at 4 1/2 months is not willing to let Daddy feed her because He just doesn't have the "Good Stuff". Now that her mother is gone part time and he is alone with her , our "Angel" is letting her voice be heard that she doesn't give her approval.It is not going to be easy but once the baby gets used to the idea the baby will make it through & I promise that everyone will survive. I also promise that it won't be easy on any of you. When my husband was willing to put the stars in the sky everynight for his children & it was painful to have one not want him to just sit and hold and feed his child. So please have your husband just hold the child while the little one can hear your voice and even see you. See that he gets a chance to play and feed the baby in an area that can be distracting if possible---- my son takes the baby on the porch and the little one can see the tree move in the wind and the flowers in the yard while feeding the baby. Hope that any of this helps you or gives you one new insight to try. Enjoy the adventure of parenthood. I promise you a ride for your lives with nothing else like it but I have found it to be the most rewarding thing I have ever done and the most educational. Feel free to contact me anytime. Nana G just talked to my daughter in law who said that they are going to get a special sippy cup for infants and see if that helps you might want to check "babies R us " and see if you can try this as well. Nana G

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C.J.

answers from San Francisco on

Oh no! I am sure you are all stressed out and i can't imagine baby being happy at all! It will take some time to get used to but if you keep trying it he will take it. Don't give up on breast feeding either, you will all find a happy medium!!

Best of luck,
C.
www.AtHome4MyGirls.com

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N.P.

answers from San Francisco on

Congratulations on your baby. I too had the same issue with my little girl when I went back to work and eventually she took the bottle just fine! Be patient!
Good luck
N

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T.H.

answers from San Francisco on

This happened to me when I went back to work after my daughter was three months old. What I had to do in the end was give her a bottle instead of my breast when I got home until she was taking the bottle well, then she would take it from her dad. Unfortunately, she weaned herself by four months because the milk came so much easier from the bottle than the breast:(
But, I had to work, and she had to eat, so I accepted the situation.

A little about me - Mother of 19yo and 12 yo, married 21 years to a sweet, supportive husband.

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H.A.

answers from Sacramento on

Try the bottle 'breastflow'. On another note: My pediatrician went 48 hours w/o feeding his baby to take a bottle and it finally worked. I don't think I will do that, but that breastflow bottle is starting to work for us.

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P.L.

answers from San Francisco on

My daughter took to a bottle for only 2 weeks then refused every type on the market. She would also just go w/o eating and wait for me when we tried to get her to take a bottle. It was very frustrating w/ her crying for hours...it was so stressful. Because I was going back to work (6months old), we were very worried as you are. The daycare center was very willing to work w/ her...and she just never ever took a bottle. I taught her to sip from the sippy cup top of an Avent bottle WITHOUT the valve. (She would not suck from it w/ the valve, although she does now when used as as a sippy cup at an older age.) I know it will spill, but if your husband/daycare just tilts it in and they swallow, feeding should not be a problem. IN FACT, she learned to hold it herself and tilt it into her mouth and learned to drink from a sippy very early. I also tried a small little shotglass of breastmilk to teach her to tilt and swallow.
Just some ideas that worked for me. Good Luck.

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M.F.

answers from Stockton on

Eventually he will take the bottle. I know how that sounds, I heard it from everyone myself. I exclusively breastfed for 4 months as well before returning to work but I offered the bottle once a day 3 weeks before returning to work. It would be complete waste b/c Maddi would scream and cry, then just starve herself. I had no choice but to put her on a starvation schedule. Sounds harsh but it really wasn't, I was preparing her for what's to come the following week. Since she was unwilling to take the bottle, the last week I had with her, I trained her to wait for me to get home or take the bottle. What I did was give her the last nipple time right before I left, then I offered the bottle b/w the hours I would be gone. If she refused she got nothing, then I would give her nipple time at the time when I would get home. What gave me peace of mind by doing this is that I knew she was okay...in fact She turned into a night eater, which happens, she compensated at night for what she didn't get during the day. Eventually....2 months later she started taking Dr. Browns (this was after I spent a small fortune on bottles) from my husband and mother in law but never from me. She didn't start taking the bottle from me until last month. Now that she has 4 teeth, I'm pretty much over breastfeeding. I stop all day feedings 2 weeks ago but I still pump and now she's on formula and breast milk, eventually I want my boobs back. She did fight me on the formula too...I went through every type they had on the market, I ended up having to get the premixed Similac Organic and it has to be Refrifgerated, she only takes it cold. HIGH MAINTENANCE right? She's thriving and the 2 months of not eating during the day didn't effect her at all she occasional took the bottle during that time but not consistently. Now she loves her bottle, sippy cup and her occasional nighttime nipple love time (it's what I call it b/c she loves it).

Hope that helps... Just keep offering and it will happen. =) GOOD LUCK!

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R.R.

answers from San Francisco on

May be show your baby pictures of other dads feeding their babies with bottle. Have your husband make funny faces or play silly while offering the bottle. Have him pretend to take another bottle himself and say oh it is so good, yum yum. Even babies can read our minds and if we show stress or worry on our faces, they pick it up quickly. Keep a happy smiling face while offering the bottle. Alternative would be to give milk with spoon may be?
Best,
-Rachna

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J.K.

answers from Sacramento on

It took us about a month to get my son to take the bottle. We tried different types of bottles and different times. Before I nursed, after I nursed, I would give the bottle. I had a friend that was bottle feeding her daughter at the time give it to him freshly expressed and he took the full thing!!!

So I would pick a wide neck bottle and stick with it. Try different times of the day and RELAX ... I think babys feel our stress. If there is 3 wet diapers baby is ok and might just want to wait to see mama!

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J.S.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi E.,

I am a Lactation Consultant and have dealt with this issue many times not only with the moms I work with but also a little boy I have been sitting for once a week for the past year. He flat out refused his bottles for a few months taking no more than maybe 2-5 ounces per day IF we were lucky! He waited for his mom, slept most of the day and then nursed like crazy when she got home and throughout the night.

First don't worry! I know it is hard but really try not to. Your baby simply prefers you over any artificial nipple. Smart kid! :) Many babies will refuse every bottle nipple that is tried and simply do not eat (much) during the day - but when mom gets home they nurse nearly non-stop through the night to get their needed intake. This is called reverse-cycle-nursing. It can be rather disconcerting to begin with but moms get used to it fairly quickly. Simply sleep with the baby so he has ample access to you through out the night and he will be fine. :) This gives him the time to reconnect with you and get his meals. :)

There is one bottle on the market now that I use frequently with the babies I work with who need supplementary bottles. It is called the Breast Flow and is made by First Years. It is designed to make the baby 'suck' from it like they would from mom. They use similar tongue motion, jaw motion - the nipple is soft and squishy kinda like the breast. I have found it's statement that it reduces the risk of nipple confusion to be true. And for babies who are in your son's position, they take this bottle after a bit much easier than any of the others (that require an entirely different set of sucking skills than the breast, are very firm and stiff compared to mom's breast and are known to cause nipple confusion). For babies who are exclusively breastfed, trying to get them to take these other firm bottle nipples is kinda like giving someone who has only used silverware to eat a pair of chopsticks and expecting them to know what to do with them right off the bat - it ain't gonna happen! That poor person will be confused as hell at first. Some people will pick up how to use them quickly (baby takes bottle quickly with no problems) and some will never figure it out (baby who flat out refuses). :)

If you have other questions feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]____.com . Otherwise, I would try not to worry...he'll be fine. :) Just remember to keep pumping at work (regardless of what baby does when you are gone) to protect that milk supply!

Warmly,
J. Simpson, IBCLC, CIIM
www.breastfeedingnetwork.net

G.L.

answers from Fresno on

could you have your husband make a bottle while you're home. see how the temp is. i had to rush home my FIRST time trying to have dinner w/ a friend b/c baby was screaming & he insisted he won't take the bottle. happened couple times - finally tested it myself & he wasn't heating it thru enough so it was cold still. then another time i thought it was too hot. good luck to you, dad & baby - i understand how stressful that must be. hope it gets better.

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J.E.

answers from San Francisco on

At 4 months, he can try a sippy cup.

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A.S.

answers from Sacramento on

I'm not sure how helpful I'll be except to offer support!

My first baby loved nursing, and also wouldn't take a bottle, no matter which one we tried. Luckily, we'd made the decision that I would stay home with him (and I'm so glad that we were able to do that) so the only reason to even give him a bottle (of my milk) was because Daddy wanted to feed him. It really wasn't worth all the stress, so we gave up on trying bottles. In your circumstance, your husband is amazing! Is there any way he can bring him to where you work so he can nurse at least once during the day? It would sure beat all the stress. Is there any way to work part time until your son is eating solids? From talking to other moms who've gone back to work, expect your baby to nurse more at night now.

Contact a La Leche League Leader who can offer advice and support. Search online for one in your area.

Wishing you & your family well.

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