I must have done something wrong in my “previous life”, because I am gifted with 3 boys who all rejected milk significantly at some point of their baby life! (note that this can be as little as 10ml out of the usual 200ml bottle!). This problem was usually most evident during bottle feeding. I didn’t like to waste my breastmilk (i.e. liquid gold), but also because I wanted my son to get enough nutrients to grow well. The first time I experienced this, was when my first son was teething. I didn’t know he was going through that (being a first time mum, and he was teething from 5 months! too early to expect), and he ended up losing quite a few hundred grams of weight in a month. That sounds very little, but is actually rather significant, considering my son only weighs a few kilograms in total. From then on, regardless of his tantrums and his teething pains, I always tried my best to feed him as much milk as possible. It takes a truly resilient mum to do that with a screaming baby, but our love for them triumphs! Here are a few tricks I use with my children.
- Mix it into cereal. Cereal, being dry in powder form, requires a whole lot of liquid added to it before the baby can eat it. This is the perfect vehicle to feed milk through, because usually a solid feed of cereal will require as much milk as a regular milk feed. Perfect. As long as your LO has started solids, and loves to eat solids. (mixing into other foods work as well, but cereal is the most efficient)
- Use another vehicle to give milk. This could be a spoon (slow, but works even for newborns. That’s how they feed in some nicu), syringe, sippy cup, straw cup, and even open cup. Whatever the baby is willing to drink from. Or even a mixture of all! My son takes milk from a spoon on one day, then rejects it another. It could even take a combination of all to get him to finish half his usual milk feed too.
- Sing songs. Or do whatever that distracts him. When babies are happy, they do (almost) anything you want them to. This works for feeding, changing diapers, showering, brushing teeth, etc.
- Cuddle him as if breastfeeding. This worked mostly when he was a newborn or very young, when I could trick him to thinking that I was breastfeeding him. It seems that babies seldom reject breastfeeding, especially if they have been latching on well enough most of the time. They love it, and will not reject. So if you can trick them into believing they are breastfeeding (or at least feel as comfortable), they might drink some from the bottle. I know many people say that babies are smart enough to know whether it is the bottle or the breast, but at least the comfort of the cuddle is real.
- Make a bread dip. I suggest this because my son loves bread. He will always take bread. So if he doesn’t take milk, I dip the bread into milk before giving it to him. Same for any solid foods he doesn’t want, I will just put them on top of the bread as spread, and he will eat them all the same. Find the one or two foods that your baby loves unconditionally, and use that as a vehicle to feed milk. I know some mummies recommend making things like pancakes and stuff from milk, but because I feed breastmilk, I do not want the milk to undergo high heat and lost part of its goodness. As a last resort, maybe, but I suggest searching for other non-heating recipes first.
Hopefully some of these work for you too!