Our long holiday weekend felt even longer than usual. That’s because The Doctor went out of town for a fun-filled girls’ weekend in Nashville, leaving The Dad and all three kids to fend for themselves.
Normally, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Andy is a pretty modern, participating dad, and we know how important it is for dads to be involved in raising the kids and all that.
But there were two things that made mom being away this particular weekend a little more challenging:
That’s right. Our youngest baby daughter – who’s not quite eleven months old – is still breastfeeding. And we wanted to keep it that way. Both of our other kids breastfed until they were about 18 months old. That set-up has worked really well for our family, and there are plenty of health, developmental and bonding benefits that come with keeping kids on the boob juice as well.
So what’s the big deal, you ask? Just have Amber pump before she leaves, then Andy can thaw out some frozen breast milk for the baby each time she needs it, right?
Well that would be right, except for this one little thing we kind of screwed up: our baby won’t take a bottle.
She wouldn’t take a pacifier when she was tiny either, so maybe she’s just not that interested in fake nipples. Maybe it’s because she eats big kid food and drinks water out of big kid cups now. Or maybe it’s because Amber’s teaching schedule with our third kid has been more conducive to having her home for more feeding times than it was for our first two kids.
Whatever it is, this kid just hasn’t had much bottle practice.
Which brings us back to this weekend, when Andy was expected to try to keep the baby drinking breast milk so she wouldn’t accidentally wean herself, and Amber was expected to try to not worry about it constantly so she could have some fun with her friends.
Here’s how it all went down:
DAY 1 (Friday)
Our baby’s breastfeeding day typically begins when she goes down for her first nap at around 9:30. Amber was supposed to be heading to the airport by then, but in a stroke of good luck (for Andy and the baby, at least), her flight was delayed, so she was able to take care of naptime like normal. Awesome.
Breastfeeding session number two comes after we’ve eaten lunch and played for a bit, at about 2:30 or so. We already knew that this old bottle was a no-go:
So Andy poured the heated-up milk into this new and exciting bottle we’d borrowed from friends expressly for this weekend:
He carried the bottle and the baby into the nursery, did the same diaper-changing, drapes-drawing, settling-into-the-rocking-chair routine that Mommy does, and then gently offered our little one a drink.
She immediately pushed it away.
After a couple more unsuccessful attempts, Andy remained calm. After all, he was prepared for this scenario, and had a second cup stashed next to the chair. He emptied the bottle into it, and presented our daughter with this beauty:
Even though our baby loves drinking water out of this sippy cup, she forcefully and vocally rejected this milk-filled version. Feeling desperate at this point, Andy resorted to the last weapon in his holster. This:
The syringe got the job done (at least 5 milliliters’ worth), but it wasn’t pleasant for anyone. Not awesome.
Breastfeeding bout number three came at baby’s 7:30-ish bedtime, and it was fairly similar to the last one. Andy tried the borrowed bottle again, along with this new sippy cup we thought might entice our little one:
It didn’t. So out came the syringe again. And Andy now began to worry that making our baby cry while drinking breast milk is worse than having her not drink it at all.
DAY 2 (Saturday)
Our daughter normally wakes up a couple times in the night, prompting Amber to go give her a breastfeeding top-off. Perhaps sensing that things were awry now though, the baby managed to get herself back to sleep overnight, once when Andy was just outside her door, and a second time when he was standing in the room, about to pick her up. Score.
When morning came, Andy hoped that a still groggy baby might absentmindedly take one of the bottles she had rejected earlier in her fully awake state. So he brought her into his bed, laid down with her and held this one out for her again:
She kind of played with the nipple a bit, which seemed like a good sign. But no real drinks were happening.
At this point, The Dad decided to forget the normal feeding schedule, and offer the baby breast milk around the clock. So during breakfast, lunch, playtime, snacktime and dinnertime, he presented our precious pipsqueak milk in each of the following:
Most offerings were dismissed on sight. A few times, however, the baby would try a sip or two. But once she realized there was milk in there instead of water, she would never go back.
Whenever she saw a cup with actual water in it, she reached and whimpered for it until Daddy caved and handed it over. At one point she found her brother’s leftover smoothie and downed it like a champ.
At bedtime, she took a drink or two from the sippy cup with the fat straw, but Andy didn’t push it past that. He decided to leave the cup in the crib with her overnight, hoping she might try drinking on her own, without all the pressure.
DAY 3 (SUNDAY)
The baby barely cried that night, and when The Dad checked the bottle in the morning, it was a lot emptier than before!
But then he felt the wet crib sheet, and realized it had actually just leaked. Bummer.
Since the kid loved the smoothie so much yesterday, Andy made another one, but mixed breast milk into it today. He used the same smoothie cup and straw she drank from before:
She went for it for about three drinks, then apparently was no longer in the mood for a smoothie. Of course.
At this point, Andy decided that some breast milk is all he can hope to get his daughter to drink for the rest of the weekend. So he put a little milk, and a lot of water, into this cup:
And this combination finally did the trick!
BUT PLEASE NOTE: NEVER WATER DOWN MILK OR FORMULA FOR A YOUNG BABY! The only reason Andy was able to safely do this is because our daughter is almost a year old, and she is eating solid food and drinking water on a regular basis anyway. If a baby is only drinking milk or formula, she needs every bit of the nutrients they have – so adding water could be seriously dangerous, or even life threatening! SO DO NOT DO IT!
By the time Amber came home for dinner on Day 4, Andy had gotten into a good routine of getting the baby to drink her favorite water-and-milk concoction out of her favorite sippy cup several times a day, and even when she woke up thirsty in the middle of the night.
But what about Mommy’s boobs? Had we accidentally weaned her, or would she be able to go back to her old favorite beverage holders?
You bet she did.
Mommy, baby and “the twins” had a glorious reunion, and now they’re right back on their old schedule – except for one difference:
Now the baby sleeps through the night!