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First of all, let’s just all agree that feeding a baby is a very personal, challenging, and unexpected journey. Before you give birth, you might have a specific plan in mind for how everything is going to go. You might have read the breastfeeding diagrams or set up your pump or invested in a formula keurig. However, spoiler alert: it won’t go as you plan (that applies to all of parenting, btw). So I’m writing this post as someone who has taken this journey as it comes and tried to do the best by my child (aka, if you read this and want to mom-shame me for some reason, no thank you).
Carter Jane is a very opinionated and expressive child (just like both her parents, so not sure why I thought I’d get a laid back kiddo). She was breastfeeding and taking a bottle every few days well up until 2 1/2 months. At that point, Nick and I took a delayed anniversary night (well, 24 hours) away from her, leaving her with pumped milk in bottles (thank you and God bless you, Mom. Thinking about having a whole night of interrupted sleep got me through many nights leading up to it.). She took the bottles the whole time, survived, then decided NEVER to take a bottle again. Bottles now mean mom is gone, even if mom is the one giving them to you. We tried everything: all the different bottles and nipples, letting her cry and get hungry, me give her the bottle, me being gone for hours and someone else give her the bottle, etc. Nothing worked. So I settled into the reality that to keep Carter Jane alive and fed, I would be feeding her myself. Meaning that we would not be apart for more than 4 hours for a while.
This reality was somewhat frustrating and very limiting, but I knew it wasn’t for her whole life. We added in baby foods, which gave me a bit of leeway and breathing space. We also realized on the baby food journey that Carter Jane LOVES pouches. She could suck down a 4 oz pouch of pretty much anything in less than a minute. Beets, spinach, apples, carrots, it really didn’t seem to matter.
At 8 months, Carter Jane became an increasingly frustrated breastfeeder. She was impatient, distracted, and probably not getting as much milk as she needed. So I began brainstorming what I could possibly do to get more milk into her. Enter: the pouches.
She didn’t love the taste of formula (meaning she would just spit it out), but if I blended it with fruits or veggies, she would eat it! I got these reusable pouches and got to work. There was absolutely a learning curve for both of us of how much food to formula I should mix and how she would eat the much runnier pouches. But we’ve figured it out now! Most days she gets a mixture of roasted sweet potatoes, bananas, or pears blended with formula in the pouch. I’m down to breastfeeding her once a day (purely for convenience in the mornings followed by snuggles in my bed), and she’s getting all of her formula through pouches and now the cup with a straw! We’ll slowly to transition to all cups and then soon, real milk.
But for all you moms and dads struggling with a baby who refuses to take a bottle, there is hope! When I used to google that, there was nothing except “keep trying the bottle!” But our bottle collection is in storage now for the next baby, and we’re making it work in our own way. And while I love my baby, I can’t tell you the relief it is to have flexibility and freedom.
What about you? Have you encountered any unexpecteds on the feeding journey?