Bottle Nursing

8:52 am

bedtime snuggles, originally uploaded by indiaeden.
I stopped pumping breastmilk for Ernest in August. Two years of pumpimg was hard, I'm not really sure what kept me going, sheer determination at times...and even as I type that,even though I know it's true, there is still a little voice in the back of my head reminding me of all my failings.
I always tried to feed Ernest in as close a way as possible to breastfeeding. I was lucky that I had the experiences of breastfeeding my four older children as a model of how to bottle nurse.
Ernest was only ever bottle nursed by me or Woody. If Woody was feeding him it was generally because I was double pumping. I do remember one instance when Ernest was just a couple of weeks old and I was trying to increase my dwindling supply, pumping every two hours, just as the milk let down Ernest woke and I asked my friend Souad to give Ernest his bottle of milk, but she couldn't quite figure it out (he was at that time still struggling to feed from a bottle) and she passed him to my other friend Fiona who fed him. That is the only time he has been given milk by anyone other than Woody or myself.
Ernest doesn't feed himself either. He will bring me his bottle, snuggle onto my knee and be fed.
I realised a few months ago that to some people this looks rather strange.
When Ernest was tiny and being fed with a bottle we fitted in with the other bottle feeding Mums...well our bottles were different, and the milk in much smaller quantities, but on the whole no one really noticed. As Ernest grew I would notice quizzical looks from both formula and breast feeding Mums as this walking talking toddler would ask for milk,and climb on my knee for a snuggle and a bottle filled with milk.
Ernest knows that milk comes from breasts, he knows that all his friends have breastmilk, and if he sees them having milk he wants some too, just like his older siblings did.
These days the milk is not from my breasts, but cows milk.
He has milk before bed, sometimes in the night and sometimes during the day.
Other than bed time, I work on the same principle of "Don't offer, don't refuse" that I did when breastfeeding his big brothers at the same age.
Our bottle nursing moments are just as precious to me as they would be if he was still breastfeeding. A chance to re-connect. Toddler life is busy and hard is Mummy life. It's nice to snuggle down and share a few milky cuddles.

Don't be shy, say hello!


  1. Oscar was exclusively bottle fed because I had breast reconstruction and I believed (because I was told), that breast feeding invariably fails for Mama's who have had my surgery (its not always the case, as I now know). But I have ALWAYS snuggled Oscar for feeds, because I wanted to mimic the benefits of breastfeeding which were not attained by the milk. I held him against my bare skin if I could and I positioned him at the approximate breast feeding distance because it is the optimal eye contact distance for babies. Because we always did this it carried on for a long time. I never noticed anyone giving me funny looks, but maybe they did (like I would care anyway lol). I always felt that babies being bottle fed away from the body or in prams or chairs looked a bit lonely (just my opinion). Really though, each to their own, and I am with you on this one.

  2. My 2 year old is still going strong! Just like breastfeeding toddlers needs more normalization, I think bottlenursing toddlers needs to be talked about too, to say that this isn't any different than breastfeeding a toddler. It's still important and worthwhile even if they're walking and talking. And I definitely have been given all manner of strange looks, though fortunately nobody has said a word. It's worse because she's the size of a 5 year old, hardly anyone can tell that she's only 2 and still very much a baby. The worst was when we were at a children's museum and I sat on the stairs to nurse her after a huge tantrum, and a whole parade of parents and children passed us up the stairs, every single last one of them looking at me like I was a freak show. I held my head high though.

    My daughter has in the last month begun holding the bottle herself, which I was a bit heartbroken about at first, but I let it go. She still wants to crawl in my lap to do it and still snuggles with me all night, but she just has to be the one to hold the bottle now. I'm worried about weaning a bit since I don't know anyone else who has done what we're doing to compare experiences with.

  3. Cassandra, I worry about weaning too, but so far it's working out ok with the don't offer don't refuse method.
    Ideally I'd like Ernest to drop his middle of the night feed. I worry that nutritionally a bottle of cowsmilk in the middle of the night is far from ideal, and lately I've been only half filling the middle of the night bottle which he doesn't seem to mind or notice.
    Sometimes the middle of the night feed is a pain, and sometimes I actually enjoy that time alone with him...just like I used to with my breastfed babies.
    We'll keep going like this until it becomes a problem, while it isn't I'm happy to leave it and go with the flow as much as possible.
    good luck with your little one too.

  4. Jeanette, I had to reply again about the night weaning stuff. I use glass bottles and the way I have weaned her down at night has happened purely because the glass bottles accidently break and I refuse to refill during the night! We started out with 5 and are down to 2. She gets one to go to sleep, then whatever is left plus the second one is all she gets. If she askes for more, she gets to suck on the empty bottle until she wakes up. Maybe the last two will break soon? Haha!

  5. LOL Cassandra, we use glass bottles too and are now down to just 2 left!

  6. Was that me? I don't remember but I take your word for it. I bottlefed Lucy so it was part of my life for a while so I suppose giving a bottle comes easily to me. What you did was totally amazing, you're an inspiration to any mama who finds herself in this situation. I've used you as an example everytime I've had a helpline call from a mum who needs to pump for whatever reason!


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