Category Archives: Baby

Q&A: getting a 4-month-old baby to take a bottle

Melissa writes:

"I am currently breastfeeding a 15 week old baby. We would like to give her breastmilk from a bottle, but so far we haven’t had a lot of luck with this.

We waited until she was about four weeks before trying and had some luck getting her to drink about an ounce, but we didn’t really keep in her "practice". Now she will put the nipple in her mouth but won’t suck on it.

We have tried all imaginable bottles and nipples. Some seem to be a little better than others, but none markably so.

I am going to return to work at six months; at the same time I’ll be introducing her to solid food. I really don’t want to do that sooner and I’d to send her with breastmilk in a bottle.

ANY ideas for helping my baby take a bottle? Brands, technique, persistance, anything?"

Well, I’m 1 for 2. My first child took a bottle easily (on the second try, at 7 weeks) and my second wouldn’t take a bottle (we started trying at 2 weeks and gave up trying at 9 weeks) until he was around 5 months or so. And he’ll only take one from our babysitter–not from me ("Are you freaking joking me, lady?!" is what his eyes say) and not from my husband ("Nice try, hairy person, but I prefer to wait for the smooth one with the milk") and not from my mom ("I like you so I won’t cry very much as you rock me, but I think we can be honest about the fact that both of us hope the lady with the milk shows up soon"). And I think he only takes it from her because he loooves her and is trying to flirt. So I’ll tell you what I know, but it may not be any more revelatory than what you’ve already been doing. Let’s hope one of the readers has the magic bullet and will post it.

Here are the basics of what I was told:

* Do not wait until your baby is really hungry to give a bottle. The baby should be interested in the milk, not desperate for it. A hungry baby will become an angry baby, who will reject anything that isn’t the norm. Nurse your baby to take the edge off and then try a bottle, or try a bottle an hour or so after your baby has eaten so s/he will be interested but not too hungry.

* Have someone who’s not the nursing mother give the bottle. Why would any baby accept milk from a bottle when warm, snuggly, good-smelling mom is right there? Instead, have your partner or someone else give the bottle. Some kids will accept a bottle from someone else when the nursing mother is still there but in another room, but others won’t take one if the mother is anywhere in the house. The nursing mother may have to leave (go get a pedicure! or read a magazine all by yourself! or drink a latte!) while someone else gives the bottle.

* Keep it fun. Even though you’re desperate for your baby to take a bottle, the baby will be more into it if it’s just a fun game. No pressure. Just dripping a little milk onto the baby’s lips, then teasing with the bottle to get the baby to try it. Eventually the baby will probably have a lightbulb "Hey! Milk comes out of this thing, too!" moment and the objective will be achieved. We hope.

* Some babies don’t want to take a bottle, but will take another kind of cup. Try the Nuby cup or straw cup or sippy cup (with the valve removed, if the baby is under a year or so). Read the comments to this post, which have stellar suggestions from readers about what worked for their kids.

Now that I’ve regurgitated the same stuff you’ve heard a million times, I’m going to go a little radical and tell you I think you should not try to make the experience of taking a bottle of breastmilk anything like actually nursing. By the time you go back to work you won’t be dealing with a teeny newborn. You’ll be dealing with a 6-month-old who will be getting curious and excited about different textures and flavors and experiences. If you can make drinking milk a new and interesting experience that isn’t connected to you (since it’ll be the daycare provider giving it to her), you might have better luck getting her to take it (since she sounds like one of those babies who doesn’t want to be "tricked" into drinking milk from something other than the breast). So it might be worth it to try giving her cold breastmilk out of a straw cup or sippy (or the Nuby if she won’t do a straw or sippy). 6 months is kind of a transitional time in a lot of ways, and some kids who are very particular about what goes into their mouths before then get more adventurous for a few weeks right around that time (which makes sense, since that’s when kids start to want to eat other foods). You might be able to use that in your favor to get her to drink cold milk out of a different kind of cup.

If you decide to adopt that approach, you might want to wait another month or two before you even try to introduce milk in a cup or sippy. That way you can be closer to the experimentation window and not spend time trying to give warm miilk from a bottle in case you end up giving cold milk from a cup later. But obviously it’s your call, based on what makes you feel better about things.

If nothing works, I think you have two options:

1. Let the daycare provider deal with it. Your daughter won’t be the first child they’ve ever dealt with that doesn’t want to drink out of a bottle. They probably have tricks we don’t know about.

2. Don’t worry about it. A 6-month-old can go a long time between feedings, and she may just rearrange her feeding schedule so she eats only solids at daycare and does all her nursing at home. This wouldn’t surprise me at all, since I know plenty of babies who are at home with their mothers who hardly nurse at all during the day, but eat food during the day and do most of their nursing in the evening and the 11 o’clock "dream feed." So I think it goes hand in hand with the age of exploration, and is quite a handy way for a baby who doesn’t like bottles to still get in enough calories while still not taking a bottle.

Good luck. I think it will end up being much less stressful at 6 months approaches than it is now.

Q&A: breast pads (specifically Lilypadz)

Daphne (who is newly pregnant and either a market researcher or product liability lawyer, judging from her questions) writes:

"So. Lilypadz. Any specific feedback you can give me that would be enlightening? 

How long have you been using them? Months? A year? 2 Years?

What are they made of, by the way? Plastic/silicon/latex/NASA-developed secret substance?

How many pairs have you gone through? 

What color are they?

Are they detectable through clothes? 

Speaking of clothes/foundation garments… if you’ve used the Padz for a long time… do you NEED a nursing bra? Or can you use a normal bra at some point?

Have you had success with wearing them to bed minus the foundation garment?

Did you use them with the prior pregnancy? 

What are the noticeable differences between the Padz and antique padded
milk-absorber thingers (if you ever used the old fashioned ones)?

Do they still stick if you use ointment to preserve the integrity of the skin (cracking/chapping/etc)?

Anything else you can tell me that I might not think to ask you would also be most helpful.

Earlier tonight, my sister in law complained that her old-fashioned breast-leak-preventers were horrible.  So not only would I like to get some for me, but I’d like to get SIL some ASAP. "

That is a thorough line of questioning, Daphne. I hope never to be up against you in a courtroom.

I was told, in the breastfeeding class I took while pregnant with El Chico, that the reason some women leak is because there’s a muscle inside each breast that controls the flow of the milk. Some women have tighter muscles there (they won’t leak) and other women have looser muscles there (they will leak). The LC who led the class did not think supply was directly correlated to whether or not you’d leak (although obviously if you have chronic low supply you won’t ever get engorged enough to have anything to leak).

The difference in muscles (which apparently has some genetic component) also has something to do with the different ways women experience the sensation of milk letdown. I’ve heard some women describe it as painful, like little electric shocks, while others say they never noticed it, but most seem to feel something in between.

Also, the longer you nurse, the better your body becomes at storing and regulating supply, so the less you’ll get engorged and the less you’ll leak. All this stuff make sense to me, based on what happened to me and the women I’ve talked to about this. I stopped leaking with El Chico at maybe 4-5 months, and with El Pequeño at around 7 months. I stopped feeling the letdown with each kid right around the time I stopped leaking. I have a friend who had a huge supply (her daughter had a heart defect that caused her to need an enormous number of calories for the first two months until the hole closed up) but never leaked. I have other friends who leaked until they weaned.

So you don’t know ahead of time whether or not you’ll leak and even need nursing pads, although if you leak during pregnancy you know you’ll leak at least some once your milk is in.

And now a little review of the nursing pads I’ve tried. I’m an oversupplier, and I leak. Waking-up-in-a-puddle-of-my-own-milk kind of leaking (a problem I know tons of people would love to have even if it means you smell like a cheese factory). So nursing pads aren’t optional for me (my mom says she used to just put a cloth diaper in each side of her bra).

I’ve used disposible pads, and really really don’t like them. They are convenient, except that I always run out and then by the time I get to and from the store I’ve leaked through my bra and shirt. The adhesive never really works that well so I end up with a bunched-up pad that looks like a boll weavil in my bra and is not giving me proper coverage. They’re not absorbant enough to cover me for all night. The stay-dry material of the pads always makes me itch. And if you aren’t careful to buy disposible pads that breathe you can get a wicked infection or fungus, which just, eew.

I’ve used cloth pads and like them slightly better. They’re far more comfortable, and it’s not throwing money down a hole because you can reuse them. But I have to change them 3-4 times a day, they bunch up and are bulky even when they’re not bunched, and I have to remember to wash them and somehow keep track of the pairs (yes, I use a lingerie bag, but somehow they escape). Also, they don’t contain my nighttime output.

I struggled through with the cloth pads during my leaking time with El Chico, but lost all patience when I was leaking with El Pequeño. So I gave in to the hype about Lilypadz (despite my misgivings about purchasing a product with a Z where an S should be). Oh, so worth the $20. So, so worth the $20.

Lilypadz are clear, floppy, flower-shaped discs made of "silicone rubber compounds" that are smooth on one side and tacky on the other side. You peel them off the hard plastic discs they come on and stick them right to your skin, like pasties (link is not work safe, no no no!). They work the same way it does if you press your fingers or the back of your hand against your nipple when you feel the letdown coming–the pressure stops the milk from coming out. So Lilypadz don’t catch any milk; instead, they stop it from coming out to begin with.

Because they stick to you you don’t need to wear a bra with them (I didn’t at night), and because they’re so thin and flexible you can’t see them under clothes. A friend with no kids told me that her friend (also with no kids) wears them under skimpy outfits to prevent nipple show-through. For what that’s worth.

After you wear them you should wash them with soap and let them air dry. If you don’t wash them in between wearings they won’t stick to you that well (and milk can come out and leak down out the bottom of them). Whenever you want to you can boil them to sterilize them (boiling them turns them a little cloudy, but doesn’t affect the performance). After a couple of months mine started to disintegrate slightly. I used mine for about 3 1/2 months, at which point I stopped needing to use them (I stopped leaking) and stopped keeping track of them and one went missing (it’s undoubtedly back behind the headboard of our bed, where I can’t see or reach). The website says they last for around 4 months, which I think is probably a good estimate.

From a financial standpoint, they’re way cheaper than using disposible pads for the same amount of time. In order to have a decent rotation of cloth pads you’d probably end up spending at least $20, so you end up ahead there, too. Environmentally speaking, I liked only having two items in use that required minimal care.

The website claims that they are less likely to cause thrush than other pads are, and that makes sense to me since the milk shouldn’t even come out to get trapped next to your skin. I didn’t use mine until I was past the irritation phase of nursing, so I don’t know how they’d perform with lanolin underneath them. I’d recommend that in the first few weeks of nursing, if you’re using ointment for irritation or cracking you allow your nipples to be in the open air as much as possible anyway, so pads shouldn’t be an issue at that point.

For me at least, Lilypadz were absolutely the answer to the question "If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they invent nursing pads that don’t make me look like an idiot and smell like a fine Stilton?".

Oh, and I have problems nursing while not wearing a nursing bra because I have a big cup size. Friends with smaller cup sizes have great success just lifting their regular bras to nurse. So the question about whether or not you need nursing bras totally depends on the size of your particular rack. You may want to check out this post about nursing bras, and especially the comments, to gather some more info about nursing bras in general.

I hope that answers all your questions, because my brain is empty now on the topic of leaking and breast pads.