Breastfeeding Mom Going Back to Work, and 4 Month Old Won't Take a Bottle!!

Updated on April 04, 2008
A.H. asks from Arlington Heights, IL
46 answers

I am going back to work in a week and my 4 month old son won't take a bottle!! I have tried Dr. Brown's, advent, and playtex vent-aire. He used to when he was smaller, but now he SCREAMS and won't have anything to do with it. I am desperate, any suggestions would be great!
Thank you.

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K.L.

answers from Chicago on

Have you tried a quicker flowing nipple or just making more holes in an existing one? Could simply be a supply and demand thing-it helped mine!

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M.E.

answers from Chicago on

I know for the advent bottles my son who is also breastfeed liked them at first then got frustrated with them at about 4 months or so. He only gets 1 bottle every couple of days or so. A friend told me that there are different nipple sizes. Try going to a 2 or 3 as they allow more milk to flow and the baby gets the food faster. My son is not frustrated when he has to take a bottle any more now that we use size 2 nipples. Hope that might help!

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J.L.

answers from Bloomington on

From experience try just a regular gerber nipple. Worked for my kids. Its a lot easier for them to use and they find that out quick.

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J.G.

answers from Chicago on

This happened to me, too. At first I was really stressed about it, and we went crazy trying all sorts of different bottles and things. I think that something that was just plain different from the breast when they are hungry can be frustrating and scary to them. I would "play" with he and the bottle when he wasn't hungry. He was much more willing to mess around and suck on it a bit when he didn't feel pressured. I put water in it for something "different" so he wouldn't think I was trying the ole switcheroo from the breast. The key was not to push it on him, but to play with it. We popped the nipple in an out of his mouth like a game and such at first. After a while, he thought the bottle was intriguing, and it was easy to put milk in there. It only took a few days of patience and calmness. The more uptight you get, the less willing he will be to give it a try. My husband would fool around with the bottle after I had already the baby him so that he was not hungry and angry. He didn't associate my husband with nursing so therefore seemed more willing to try it out.
I don't think the advice of not giving in and forcing the baby to drink the bottle is good at all. There is no need to make this more stressful than it is. This is his food and comfort source that you are threatening. Once my son started taking the bottles (it only took a few days of patience) and it was a pleasant experience, he enjoyed being able to look around and drink rather than looking at the back of the chair while nursing and started to prefer the bottle!

Good luck!

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

Children pick up our energy so do what you can to feel relaxed about going back to work. Resist worrying. Instead focus on what will make you feel good about your returning to work & practice deep breathing~taking in a nice breath, hold a moment & slowly exhale as you allow any tension to move down & out of your body. Do this 3-5 times before & as you offer the bottle.
There is also an amazing emotion clearing technique that is being taught by doctors & in hospitals that you can learn to do for yourself. Look up Emotional Freedom Technique on emofree.com.
If you are available Thursday April 3 at 7pm I can teach it to you at our moms support group meeting at Heathers Cafe in Chicago.
Wishing you a peaceful transition.

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L.R.

answers from Chicago on

You shouldn't even try - he won't take a bottle from YOU! Why should he - you're right there! He will take a bottle from a babysitter or day care person, on the first day. Kids are smart and they know who's giving them the bottle. There is NO REASON for stress here; don't give it another thought. I know this from experience - working mom who breastfed five kids.

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H.M.

answers from Chicago on

My son went through this as well when I went back to work. Make sure you have someone else give the bottle and have them try walking around while giving it instead of sitting like he would when nursing. This got him to finally take it and now at 10 months (and I am just starting to give a bottle a day to stop nursing) he takes a bottle fine even from me.

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M.O.

answers from Chicago on

A.,

I had TONS of problems with my milk - not so much with the bottle (although that's what we thought it was at the time.)

#1 Try to give him fresh milk to start, not day old/frozen.
#2 Get out of the HOUSE when someone else is to feed him (I'm told they can SMELL you a mile away), so hiding in the basement doesn't count.

#3 Try formula instead of breastmilk if all else fails. A lactation consultant said some babies want breast milk from the breast only - period. So if he won't take a milk bottle from the giver, have them try a formula bottle.

#4 Ask day care/your sitter to do a "trial run" for a 1/2 day two times before you go back to work. Leave the breastmilk AND formula. Go shopping, get a haircut, whatever, just stay out of the house. Let them take care of him how they normally would (just like you're at work) and see how it goes.

Believe me, it's worth the money and piece of mind to know that he may be fussy, but he'll be ok without you (and your milk).

My pediatrician told me, no kid has ever died from fussing too much. Make sure he's with someone safe, and just have faith that he's going to do well.

Sometimes they just want mom and what's familiar. So, if he simply won't take the breastmilk from a bottle, try the formula - different presentation, different person, so, different taste. Then you can still breastfeed him when your home.

BTW - my problem was my breastmilk was spoiling too fast. Check the smell of your warmed breastmilk after you take it out of the fridge/freezer. If it smells normal, your fine - if it smells bad, it probably is.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have more questions,

Sara

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J.D.

answers from Chicago on

Just be patient and keep trying different things. I think the MOST important thing, is to make sure you have a very patient caregiver in this situation.... Good Luck!

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R.T.

answers from Champaign on

Good luck to you on this one! My now 8 year old went from breast to cup. He never would take a bottle. I went back to work when he was 4 months old. I had to nurse him before we left the house, when we got to the sitter, come back on my lunch break, when I picked him up from the sitter and then had to go directly home. He had just started 1st stage foods by then so that would hold him over in between. At about 8-9 months he would drink water and juice from a sippy but never milk until we were off the breast completely.

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A.

answers from Chicago on

My daughter did the same thing. I started trying cups then. She now drinks out of a cup. She is now 6 months old and doing great. I currently am using a NUK Learner Cup by Gerber and love it. Hope everything works out for you.

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P.D.

answers from Chicago on

A.:

I see this a lot in my practice.... first is to figure out why and then find a way to feed him while you are gone..

P.,RLC, IBCLC
Breastfeeding and Parenting Solutions

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S.M.

answers from Chicago on

Are you trying to cut out breastfeeding all together or are you feeding him pumped milk? I nursed both my boys and I hear you on this one... when they like mommy milk the bottle does not cut it. In my opinion if you are going to pump at work start now to get your body ready... and the baby. Then offer the bottle at the times he is usually supposed to nurse. If he wont take it maybe.. try different bottle nipples there are lots. Also an idea is that if you can get anyone but you to give the baby the bottle it might help if they do not smell or see you. I know my one son was really confused if I was trying to give him a bottle when he thought I should be nursing him....... Your son is four months maybe he will just eat baby food when you are at work and water and nurse him when you are at home in the morning and in the evenings. Good luck this is a tough one..

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B.M.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,
My little guy (who is now 18 months old) got a wild hair up his you-know-what around 4 months and refused the bottle as well. I was breastfeeding him and he would not take a bottle from anyone! My mom came over once a week and on those days he threw a fit when that bottle came near him (pumped breast milk).

It took a couple of weeks, but what we did was found a lovey of sorts (small blanket) that I would put near his cheek when I nursed him. I got it to have my scent on it. And then, when my mom was here or my husband fed him with a bottle, they used that same lovey blanket next to his cheek when they fed him.

We used a taggie (taggie.com) that we had been given when he was born, but I am sure that any small little blanket or even burp cloth would work. He still sleeps with his taggie to this day.

I hope this helps. I know how frustrating it can be for everyone.

B.

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J.V.

answers from Chicago on

A.,

I had the same problem with my boy. He never took the bottle. I had to go directly to sippy cups. Your son is a little too young but if nothing else had worked, you may want to give it a try.

Also try to get other person to give him a bottle, without you in the room, that may work too.

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L.S.

answers from Chicago on

This exact thing happened with my son 2 weeks before I went back to work. I looked up tips for bottle feeding a breastfed baby on the internet and found lots of advice. The things that worked for us were trying the bottle once or twice a day when he was hungry but not starving. We would only try for 10-15 minutes or until he was screaming so he did not have bad associations with the bottle. Then I would wait 5-10 minutes to nurse him so he did not think that if he refused a bottle he would got boob. Also, if your baby takes a pascifier, I tried just giving him the bottle nipple to suck on for a few minutes and that is how he got the hang of it finally. It took a lot of patience but your son needs to learn that food comes from the bottle too. I think it took 1.5 weeks of trying and he finally got it, now he takes a bottle no problem!! I used avent stuff. Hope this helps!

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A.P.

answers from Chicago on

this sounds crazy but you put a bottle in your mouth and show baby how it's done.... i encouraged my baby by just making the lip movement and it worked! good luck.

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A.N.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,

We had this same issue. We did what you did - went out & bought a few different bottles/nipples, etc.... She didn't want any of them. So - we just picked the one she seemed to dislike the least & stuck with it. We offered it to her about once an hour. We found when she got more & more hungry she would at least try. We would make sure she got some in her mouth so she knew what it was too. The other thing that helped was not putting the nipple of the bottle all the way in her mouth - letting her want it & pulling it in her mouth herself...(hope that is making sense). Then keep a bit of pressure on the nipple too (after she had it & started suckling - pull on it a bit so she "held onto it". None of this was necessary after she got the hang of it - but this is what we did to get it going. I had to fly out for my job so I was really worried. I bought a traveling backpack type pump & continued to pump on the road - but she had no option but to drink from a bottle as I was not going to be there. Be persistent - Your baby will get it. Good Luck.

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C.K.

answers from Chicago on

I had the same issue. I tried many different bottles and finally decided to try a sippy cup. After several different sippy cups, I tried the Born free from Whole Foods and filled it with half apple juice and half nursery water and always had it out with his toys. I would pretend to drink from it and after some time he started to show some interest. Before having him, I wanted to be the mom who never gave my child juice until they were older, but I thought the sweetness might be enticing. Luckily, I had some time to deal with the situation before heading back to work. Now my son loves to drink milk from the sippy and I don't give him the juice anymore. Temperature was a huge thing for him too, so make sure it's nice and warm.

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S.H.

answers from Chicago on

I had the same problem with my little one. I was using Gerber Glass bottles and he would have nothing to do with them, he only wanted to eat from me. I finally tried Avent bottles because I happened to have a sample one at my house. He actually took to these so I went out and bought all new bottles. It's worth trying, I know how frustrating it is. Have you also tried having someone else give him the bottle? This didn't actually work for me, but they do say that they are sometimes more willing to take the bottle from someone other than mom, so I would also try that if you haven't already. I wish you the best of luck!

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C.S.

answers from Chicago on

Oh, I've been there and it's a horrible feeling!! It happened with both of my kids!! I had to leave the house with my other child and my husband had "Bottle boot camp" as he called it with my 4 month old. He had success giving the bottle while she was in her carseat or swing. Distraction was key. Your baby will eat when he or she gets hungry enough, I know that is hard. My dr. said if she didn't take the bottle to try to spoon feed her or use a small medicine cup to feed her. The best of luck to you!
Also, I've bought every bottle and nipple on the market, just pick one and stick with it.

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C.M.

answers from Chicago on

A.,

I may have good news and bad! My son, NEVER consumed more than 2 to 3 oz. from a bottle at one time. His infant teacher and I would be in tears over it, he on the other hand... was happy healthy, growing and learning! (To top it off, he had little use for baby food!) The good news is he came to no harm, in fact he to this day is a healthy eater. The bad news... he nursed all night long! I was so tired, that I would bring him to bed with me. He could nurse and I could rest/sleep. My advice do all you can to attempt the bottle, but rest in the knowledge that he will get what he needs and you will survive this season!

C.

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B.F.

answers from Chicago on

if you are the one administering the bottle, it may not work. the baby can smell you like 20 feet away & would prefer your breast. have someone else try to feed the baby & see if it works (you need to leave the room). have patience... weening is tricky!

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M.M.

answers from Springfield on

A.- My daughter did the same thing..It was awful...I finally had to leave her with my Mom for hours and then she would drink enough from a bottle....She took the playtex nurser- which is shaped like the new gerber nuk bottles- they are so much like a mothers breast.....Also I would use my night shirt that smelt like me and my Mom would wrap her in that and give her the bottle....I nursed her for a year and she ended up drinking 2 small 4 oz bottles while I was gone during the hours of 7-4- then I gave up on the bottle at home and just nursed- she only took bottle at babysitter's..........The Dr. said she would hold out for me......ANyway at 4-5 months you can start giving him some gerber # 1's. and rice cereal...That will help fill him up...I actually ended up giving her a little gerber diluted juice in a bottle and she loved it.( so she got some liquids)..I think its the milk thing from a bottle. I also tried a very soft sippy cup with juice and she loved it..The advent bottle converts to sippy cups and they have the spout for infant flow....GOOD LUCK!

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E.B.

answers from Chicago on

Let someone else give him the bottle while your not home. Keep nursing him whenever you're around. Breast is best

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A.M.

answers from Chicago on

He will probably take it from someone other than you when he is hungry enough. I would try having someone else give him a bottle when you are out of the room. The going back to work is always hard but he will learn to take a bottle. It may take a bit of an adjustment. After all it is so cozy next to mommy :)

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A.R.

answers from Chicago on

Did you ever try having someone else give him/her the bottle? Maybe he/she just won't take it from you. Once he/she is used to taking the bottle, he/she may start taking it from you. Are you putting formula in the bottle or breastmilk? Maybe he doesn't like the taste of formula.

I had trouble with my daughter when I started weaning. She always took a bottle but then got a little confused when I started giving her more bottles & less breastmilk. I finally had to stop breastfeeding & switch to forumla bottles completely and then it worked much easier.

It sounds like you aren't ready to stop breastfeeding, so I would try someone of the other things first & see if you can get baby to take the bottle from you.

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A.S.

answers from Chicago on

I agree with Sarah...Playtex, old style nursers with dropins (no ventaire) and Latex natural latch nipples was all that my breastfed son would take. My Mom who breastfed way back then also used these nipples, although they were shaped a little differently then. The latex stretches and collapses more like a mother's nipple...the sillicone is so hard!

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C.T.

answers from Chicago on

I had this exact problem. While I was breastfeeding I had to have surgery. My pediatrician advised me to not nurse for a few days after the procedure due to the medication, etc. My little girl REFUSED to take a bottle. I tried every bottle I could find. The one she did finally use was the First Years Breastflow bottle. It is by far the most like the breast and worked beautifully with some patience. The key is to not give in and nurse the baby during the refusal. Wait a half an hour between the bottle refusal and breastfeeding. Persistance and love are the ways that worked for us. It was a struggle and at times heartbreaking but we got through it and now she will drink out of any bottle that I give her. I wish you all the best!

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M.L.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,
Of course your son won't take a bottle from you. You're the good stuff and the bottle is second best. Never fear, most babies will take a bottle from a caregiver if Mom is not around. In the event that he will not, here are two time tested suggestions: have the caregiver use a small baby spoon or an eyedropper. Often if baby is hungry, just getting him past those initial hunger pains will calm him enough that he will be willing to take the bottle from the caregiver. If not, the spoon or eyedropper will at least get enough expressed breastmilk into him. Make sure that you leave time to nurse him before you leave the house for work and right away when you get home. Babies are adaptable and he, too, will adjust to the new schedule. Good luck.
M.

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K.D.

answers from Chicago on

A.,
I feel for you! My 3 month old daughter started daycare two weeks ago and she wouldn't take a bottle either. On the second day of the second week, she finally gave in and took one. She doesn't eat much while she's there...only about 8 ounces total, but it's enough to take the edge off until she gets home. We bought literaly every bottle made and she decided she like the Playtex Drop Ins. Hang in there, he'll take one eventually. Just be extra nice to his caregivers and let them know you're trying your best, too.

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D.D.

answers from Chicago on

I had the same exact problem with my son when I went back to work when he was 4 months old. A lactation consultant told me to try an orthodontic nipple, so I used the Playtex bottles with an orthodontic nipple and he started taking a bottle. But, then when I did go to work, he refused to take a bottle from anyone else for the first two days. On the third day, he broke down and started taking the bottle. I hope this helps. Good luck.

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J.L.

answers from Chicago on

Tru using a sippy cup. Try the cheap Nuby brand from WalMart, or the Avent tops since you have the bottles already. I went throught that w/my daughter. Luckily I was only gone 3 hrs twice a day [I drove a school bus], so if she wouldn't take anything she'd be fine. The novelty of a sippy may do it though, and he's old enough to be able to manage it as long as you have one w/a good sized soft spout. You could also try feeding him from a small paper dixie cup. I've heard that works as well for some babies. The important thing is not to try it yourself which ever way you feed him. He associates you w/nursing, so let someone else feed him bottle, cup or whatever when you are not in the room. GOOD LUCK! J.

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A.H.

answers from Chicago on

Hi A. i hear your concern and I am almost certain this will help your baby transition between you and the bottle. I experienced this same transition except I was the provider. I am a professional teacher/ and an owner of a childcare facility. There is a bottle that is so simlilar to the breast that it is remarkable! The name is Adari you can purchase it at Be By Baby 1654 W. Roscoe Chicago Il. 60657 773-404- baby or [email protected]____.com or www.BeByBaby.com. I have recommended this to at least five families and 100% results! Remember the milk should be warm like mommy's! I as well breastfeed my children so I know how personal this is to you. The bottle comes in three stages 3-6mths,6-9mths, and 9-12mths.

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

Hi,

I know it can be really difficult to transition baby from breast to bottle. I tried everything myself but the one bottle that seemed to help was Adiri Natural Nurser slow flow. It is a little pricey $12.99 at Babies r Us but it was worth every penny. Lets just hope there is no nipple confusion...best of luck

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M.A.

answers from Chicago on

Both of my children did this and they refused paciifers.
Well I put them on sippy cups @ 4months.

seems odd but thats how we got past it.

It really is no different that taking the bottle or pacifer away from them later in life.
Just remember this to soon will pass and as along as you are offering them milk in some form they will take if they need.

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A.H.

answers from Springfield on

I had the same problem with my son. I tried every bottle/nipple combo known to man. And let me tell you, he especially hated the nipples that were supposed to be more similar to the human nipple. Eventually my sister (daycare provider!) came over and I left. She would give him a bottle. It took almost a week and we only did it once a day. He eventually figured out that if he wanted to eat, this was going to be his only option while he was with his aunt. He was about 9 weeks old, though. Good luck!

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G.D.

answers from Chicago on

You might want to try a bottle/nipple combination that One Step Ahead sells. The nipple is extremely soft, even softer than the Avent ones, so it much more closely simulates the breast. The website is onestepahead.com and the bottle is called the "Adiri Natural Nurser". I am a breastfeeding mom of a 7 month old - I was about to buy this bottle myself, but my baby eventually adjusted to the Avent and Medela bottles. Good luck.

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J.N.

answers from Peoria on

I bought Mam bottles and my son took to them really well. I wouldn't worry too much, I'm sure he won't starve to death, he'll eat when he finally gets hungry. I am assuming that you are pumping and he's getting breast milk in the bottle, right? Because if it's formula that might be part of the problem. My son is now 14 months old and still nursing -- he won't take a bottle or sippy cup when he's away from me. He won't have anything to do with milk other than mine. Daycare voiced concern and I told them that I was sure that if he got hungry he will eventually take the milk from them, he's a solid, healthy 25 pound boy so he's not starving to death -- he justs wants his momma! Your little guy's probably the same way.

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S.B.

answers from Chicago on

Playtex drop-ins...... LATEX nipple. I think the silicone nipples are too hard. Give it a try!

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M.C.

answers from Chicago on

Well, he already knows what he likes, good for him! I have a home day care and it usually falls to me when the new baby refuses the bottle. Your day care provider will have run into this situation before. Most babies will take the bottle the first day. I did have one baby who never did transition to the bottle for me, but he was only with me 1/2 day, so apparently he could wait until M. came. Another little girl took 2 days, and then she relented and started taking the bottle. Now that incident is 8 years ago and she does not remember it at all! Your provider should be flexible enough about this, if she's not, what else isn't she flexible about? For now, try having someone besides you give her the bottle, or try sneeking in a bottle when she takes a breath during nursing. And just keep trying until the day you go back to work and you will have done your best.

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K.S.

answers from Chicago on

Years ago when my daughter didn't like her bottle, our pediatrician suggested dipping the nipple in a little bit of corn syrup...had to do it frequently, but eventually it worked.

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K.B.

answers from Chicago on

Do you or your spouse try to feed him? My daughter did better at first with someone else giving her a bottle because she expected me to nurse her. she also did better with expressed milk at first.

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A.K.

answers from Chicago on

Playtex Drop-ins worked for me. They are supposed to be almost like a mothers nipple. My daughter likes them a lot. They get to be a little more expensive because you have to buy the liner but they definitly work against gas and tummy aches. She hardly ever gets one. She didn't like the playtex vent aire either. Good luck.

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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

Try a cup! Hopefully you can find a soft sided cup that can conform to his mouth a bit. Lots of b/f babies don't like to have their intelligence 'insulted' with an artificial nipple! He needs milk more than to suck. Please keep nursing him while you're at home and on the weekends...he needs to still suck from the breast for his oral and facial develpoment (that is why breastfed babes need braces much less than their bottle fed peers...even if they used 'orthodontic' nipples)

Good Luck! Think of all of the chemicals he will avoid by not using the chemical leaching plastics too! Those babies are smarter than we give them credit for!

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B.L.

answers from Chicago on

Have you tried having someone other than you give the bottle? Sometimes they refuse the bottle if they know mom is nearby with the real thing :)

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