Premature babies and nursing

A question from a new mom(!) about breastfeeding:

Hi Catherine, love the blog, just discovered it! My question is, do you have any suggestions about getting my baby ‘back to the breast’ after having introduced the bottle? I needed to start giving him bottled feeds in order to get his weight up – he was born preemie and extra small due to growth restriction in utero, and his suck was not great due to a tongue tie (now snipped). So I pumped milk and gave it to him in a bottle from about 2 weeks (he was in hospital still, level 2 care nursery) and kept trying to breastfeed. But now, especially when he is very hungry – like during the night when I have missed the early cues – he cries and fusses when I try to breastfeed, then calms down and eats when I switch to the bottle. But I really would like to wean him off the bottle if I can! He is 5 weeks now.

Many thanks in advance for any suggestions,



Dear Monique,

First of all, try not to get discouraged. I also had a preemie, small weight baby. I found that if I took my breast and squirted or squeezed milk directly into the baby’s mouth that he would at least start to suck. The milk will flow quite quickly at first, especially if you are engorged. I would also try frequent feedings during the day and try not to offer the bottle. You could also make the bottle harder to suck from by using a different nipple or one that did not have such a large opening. There are going to be some frustrating moments for both you and babe. Your baby will get the hang of it eventually and as long as he is getting enough during the day, I would not worry too much about the night feedings. He may cry a lot at first, but he will settle after figuring out that he is not going to get the bottle. It is amazing how these tiny babes can get their message across to us without a single word!

I really think you may just have to put that bottle away. Is he a good weight now? Also, lamaze used to make a nipple that you could put over your breast. This was mostly for women with inverted nipples, but it may work in your situation. However, I still think locking those bottles up will work the best. Hope this is of some help.

Feel free to write anytime and remember the most important part of this is what you are already doing; loving your baby son.


About Catherine

Catherine is a mum who lives in Chesapeake, Virginia; she and her husband, Robb, have ten children, and have operated a family medical practice for thirty years. This blog is a place she shares thoughts and answers questions -- especially from other moms, but from anyone! -- about pregnancy and child-rearing, marriage, sickness and health, and lots of other things.
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