Weaning your baby off breast milk and introducing a bottle can be a really challenging stage of parenthood for a number of reasons. Between feeling insecure about what it might do to your mummy-baby bond and fears about your child starving because they refuse to accept the plastic nipple, there are loads of emotions and anxieties attached with this shift! BUT, the important thing to remember throughout this process is what an amazing change it will have on your lives. Once you conquer this mountain, you will feel infinitely freer because all of a sudden, your baby won’t be physically reliant on you to survive – this is a great time, embrace it!
So, onto some tips to get you through!
- Forgive yourself. Do not feel bad about secretly wishing that your baby will refuse the bottle forever, and therefore still loves you the most – its totally normal! But to help you stay strong during these moments, just do your best to remind yourself of the frustration you feel when you can’t even clean your teeth before your friend pops round because the little guy is still suckling away at your bosom! You need your freedom to move around the house back!
- Accept that it might take a little time. At the end of the day, your baby has been living the dream, and getting the real deal until now, so don’t expect him/her to give up the boob without a fight! This is a luxury that he/she feels is a right of passage… oh they have so much to learn! You’ll have to be patient and persistent, but a fail safe to help you through the early stages is to remove yourself from the environment altogether. Just get out of the house and leave your beautiful, boob-dependent baby and a bottle of milk with someone you trust and keep your fingers crossed! It will almost inevitably be a disaster if you’re in the next room as your baby will smell you and put up a bigger fight and it’ll take all the will power in the world on your end to keep from bursting in (all superwoman-like) to save the day when you hear your little one crying in disgust! But an important thing to remember is that if you or your baby really aren’t feeling it right now, listen to those signals, and try again next week!
- Try a few different bottles. This might sound strange, but your baby is so sensitive to change at this time, and although you might not be able to notice any real difference, you might just find that one bottle works, while another is a total disaster. So don’t give up, just change it up! There are hundreds of bottles on the market, all different shapes and sizes, so there will be one that is perfect for your little babe.
- Bottle your breast milk. A good way to start your baby off, is to pump your breast milk and give your baby that via the new bottle. It just means a little less change to cope with. This way the mode of delivery might have changed, but the product is still the same. Once taking the bottle is an accepted part of life, then you can mix it up with formula and breast milk and eventually remove the breast from the equation altogether!
- Don’t dive in at the deep end! When introducing a bottle, try to start with only offering it once every couple of days, and ideally swapping the boob for a bottle during a daytime feed. When your baby is awake and well rested, he/she is more likely to be able to accept and tolerate the change, compared with when they’re tired and irritable. The evening feed is often the hardest feed to conquer, so definitely save this one for last, once your baby has made positive associations with the bottle and is really comfortable with taking it!