Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to wean a resistant child...

This is less a how-to, and more a here's what I've attempted and how Charlie has foiled it all.

We gave Charlie her first bottle of expressed milk on Halloween, when she was just over a month old. Tim fed it to her, she happily accepted, and promptly threw it up. So much for that pumpkin costume...I only had a manual pump, so she took about one bottle a week, and once we switched to Dr. Brown's we didn't have any more spit up issues.
Then, around 4 months (the same time she gave up sleeping through the night) she rejected the bottle. Violently. She would rather throw herself to the floor than let that thing near her mouth. I tried...Nana tried...Tim tried...fits abounded. Bottles were left untouched, hours of pumping waisted as the milk was tossed down the drain. Thankfully we were in a position that didn't require she drink from a bottle. It was a convenience for the occasion I wanted wine, or to see a movie, but it wasn't really a necessity. So, we adapted, happily living a bottle free life.

Well. When we started going to a small group I started giving Charlie milk in sippy cups. (I'm not, in general, an in-public nurser type.) She handled this better, and would drink an ounce or two. Eventually I bought faster flow nipples, holding my breath that it wouldn't be wasted money, and tried the bottle again. Success! She would usually drink two ounces or so over the period of an hour (yes, we call that success around here.) But, this was only needed once every other week, so not a habitual thing.

Then I found out I was pregnant. I had no idea how much milk I was producing, I just knew Charlie was no longer willing to wait three hours between feedings. So, Tim and I decided to buy an electric pump so we could determine approximately how much milk I was making. It was not encouraging. I was able to pump about two ounces at a time...then a few weeks later, one ounce...then this week, half an ounce. Add to that me coming down with a UTI yesterday. My doctor said I could breast feed with the prescription, but the medication itself says not I'm compromising. We are doing formula for all but the first and last feedings (and the middle of the night, I can't imagine that battle.) I've read those are the hardest for the baby to drop, so we're going with that.

Getting her to take the formula...that's a trick. So far the most successful thing I've found is to strap her facing me into the Baby Bjorn, and offer the bottle from various angles (right, left, center, repeat) while 1) pacing the entire house in silence, 2) Dancing in front of the mirror. It's a good work out, because it takes about an hour for her to finally drain a 4 ounce bottle. This is usually met with initial acceptance, but an ounce into it she starts rubbing her face against my chest and gently crying until she reaches tantrum levels. Then the cycle repeats. The only thing stopping me from caving (besides being stubborn) is seeing the difference in both the length of her naps, and in the roundness of her belly. Sometimes her belly looked like someone who had recently lost a lot of weight, just wrinkly skin on top of a flat belly. Other times it was round like a baby belly should be. It worried me, but I read on mom forums about other babies that were her age and weight, so I tried not to read into it...but now I am concerned that her stomach shrunk to match my supply instead of my milk matching her need. But, she never ate much solids either (still doesn't)...about 2 ounces of fruit and cereal for breakfast and three ounces of veggies or fruit for dinner. So, honestly I'm not sure if she was getting enough milk from me or not, I just know that seeing how much she's now getting is making me feel better (even though she's still only taking about 8 ounces of formula, plus what she gets from me at the beginning and end of the day and through the night.) We're going to work that up as much as possible once she stops fighting so hard.

So, Mom's who've weaned...any tips on making this process easier on both of us?


  1. So sorry you are having to deal with this! You might think that having weaned three babies I would have great advice. Not so. Shane was 18 and we just found out we were pregnant with #2 so Travis sent me away for a weekend (to your wedding in fact) and had his mom come out and help him. They were miserable, I was sore and miserable, but it worked, but ended up loosing the baby a few months later. Kaylie weaned herself at 12 months. Hannah was 18 months and Travis once again sent me away for the weekend. Same experience as Shane but it works. We are all miserable for a few days, but then it is over and done with. But as you can see, all my babies have been older than Charlie. Ashlyn is still nursing. Praying that you are able to find a solution that works for all of you!
    Kristen Hickman

  2. Poor mama! Not stressful at all- right? Well this hasn't exactly happened to me so take my advice with a grain of salt.

    If I were struggling with this I think I would give it a couple days (yes it would help if you can have someone else try to give her the bottle). As long as she is healthy and there is nothing else wrong here other than her fighting it, that she will eventually get hungry enough and come around although there might be a little hunger and a few missed meals depending on her stubbornness. If you are really nervous then make an appointment and talk to her pediatrician (especially if you are concerned because she might even lose a little weight over this one).

    Above all- Don't feel bad! It's not your fault you aren't producing enough milk!!! God has a plan for your family and obviously it involves this new baby and thus this little struggle you are facing right now. Plus, as far as Charlie goes it's not really a power struggle like bedtimes might be- you don't have a choice!

    (Also about her tummy looking empty vs.full- both my kiddos were pretty little things- 13 and 14lbs at 6 months and barely squeaking up to 20lb after their one year....anyways sometimes their tummy's looked thin and then they would eat and look like they were ill proportioned with HUGE stomachs, so if she is tiny that just might be more obvious to you like my kids. They are both EXTREMELY healthy btw.) ;) Hope any of this helps! :) Annie Wyatt

  3. Xaris just hit 20 lbs, and she's 2. She's always been a good eater, just underweight for about a year or so now. All kids are different, and since her pediatrician isn't worried, I'm not either. If it's obvious that Charlie's making developmental milestones for her age, then she is growing and getting at least what she needs--but I can understand the desire to make sure she is getting enough!