Tuesday, 16 February 2016

How I Weaned My Baby from Breast to Bottle

In this post I'm going to talk about how I weaned my 7 month old from 100% breast to 100% bottle feeding. 

If you're interested in finding out how I stopped breastfeeding and helped my baby to accept a bottle and formula instead of breast milk, you've come to the right place. 


As you may have seen me talk about elsewhere, I gave up expressing when my son was 6 weeks old because I personally found the process wasn't worth the time and hassle of manual pumping, when I could just feed him myself. Because I gave up expressing early, Harry quickly fell out of practice drinking out of a bottle and later REFUSED to take a bottle at all. 


When I was looking for advice on how to wean my baby from breast to bottle I couldn't find much out there for parents who's babies ABSOLUTELY HATED bottles. I was starting to feel quite desperate and so when I found a way to successfully wean my baby, I knew I wanted to share my experience incase anyone else out there might find it useful. 



THINKING ABOUT WEANING


I started to think about weaning Harry when he was 6 months old. I had tried him with a bottle prior to that age (when he was 4-5 months old) but I wasn't really ready to stop breastfeeding and so it had been unsuccessful. At the time I was trying the Phillips Avent Classic+ Bottles and the MAM Anti Colic Bottles and was offering him breast milk and formula. I had other people try to feed him, I tried waiting till he was really hungry, I tried when he was tired but not too hungry, when he was in his highchair, lying down...No matter what I did he REFUSED the bottle EVERY SINGLE TIME. 

Having seen him happily take a bottle (of breastmilk) when he was a newborn, and take a soother on a daily basis, I knew it was the association of comfort from me and routine that was causing him a problem. At 6 months he was also eating 3 meals a day and had a varied diet including foods prepared with formula milk. That said, I started looking for bottles and teats more specifically for breastfed babies and decided to stick to my guns with choosing to transition to formula in tandem. 


FINDING THE BOTTLE




That's when I found the NUK First Choice+ Bottle with Natural Latex Teat. The NUK Latex teat is extremely flexible and soft and to my mind more closely resembles a human breast and nipple than anything else I had seen or tried. I made Harry a small amount of formula and he accepted it. He only drank about 1 floz but this was the first bottle he had accepted since he was 6 weeks old. For me this was a break through.

I carried on offering him a bottle daily for about 2 weeks. He would accept, drink a tiny amount, get upset and I would cave in and feed him myself until he was full. 

Looking back I wasn't ready to give up breastfeeding when Harry was 6 months old, so I wasn't committed to stopping. Coupled with the fact that I didn't like having him upset, I gave up trying to transition again until he was 7 months old. Still, I had the bottle and knew now that it was the approach I would have to tweak when the time was right.

At 7 months, I had only 8 weeks before the end of my maternity leave. I knew I had to wean Harry before I went back to university and at this age I felt he (and I) were now ready to transition. 


CHANGING MY APPROACH


When I committed to weaning Harry from breast to bottle, the process only took us 2 weeks. I thought it would take much longer, but changing my approach made all the difference.


Instead of offering the bottle at every feed and having Harry associate it with something negative I decided to drop a feed per week for 4 weeks. Week one, I dropped the third feed of the day right before his morning nap. For the first couple of days I offered him a bottle instead but he refused and so I offered him a solid food snack and water instead, which he accepted, for the rest of the week. 

On the first day of the second week I dropped the second feed of the day, the one right before his morning nap. Again I did the same, offered a bottle (3 oz as I knew it would be wasted anyway), have it refused then offer a solid snack and water which he would take so I knew he was at least not starving before he went down to sleep. 

That day he had only his morning and evening breastfeeds and no other milk. I wasn't happy with this as this is not enough milk for a baby of his age but I was committed to see what happened for another 7 days. 


THEN IT HAPPENED


Literally overnight. The very next day I went to do the same thing and he accepted the bottle and drank the full amount of formula at the second and third feeds. Can you imagine my disbelief. I could not believe it. 

I took photos, I sent them to all of my friends, it was amazing. That was it after that. For the rest of the week I dropped the morning feed, increased the amount of formula I was making to 7floz per feed (I upgraded to the NUK Size 2 teats and a larger bottle) and by the end of the second week I stopped breastfeeding altogether. 

In my opinion it was the combination of finding the bottle Harry was comfortable and changing my approach to dropping a feed at a time, and offering an alternative at feeding time that was not a bottle after having refused that worked for us.

Though I didn't plan on ending our feeding relationship so quickly, I felt it was best to transition completely whilst I had the opportunity. Call me crazy, but after having him refuse the bottle for so long I had images of it happening again so I dropped all feeds by the end of the second week. 

If you'd like to read about the side effects this had on my and my physical and emotional experience of stopping breast feeding, I wrote this post about it.

It's hard to get everything in to one blog post on this topic so if I've missed anything or you have any more questions you'd like me to answer please feel free to comment below!

Kathy
xx



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