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Today I’m continuing our series of questions and answers and in the process, inviting you to send your question into us! Today’s question comes from a Mum in my exercise class who is soon to return to work and is stressed that her baby is refusing to take a bottle.

Milly is 10 month’s old and has only ever been breastfed. Milly’s lovely Mum Esther is returning to work 2 days per week in 2 months time (when Milly turns 1) and despite how hard she tries, she simply won’t take formula or expressed breast milk from a bottle.

Esther’s experience with Milly is a very common concern amongst breastfeeding Mum’s who need to provide an alternative when they are going to be apart from their baby. It’s a concern that isn’t always easy to address, and can be a hugely stressful experience for any Mum planning to return to the workforce.

The first point I’d make is consider the age of your baby and how regularly you’re going to be away from them. Milly is going to be one when Mum returns to work 3 days per week. In this case there is really no need for her to be offered formula or breastmilk or even cow’s milk. Many parents are surprised to hear that milk is not an essential part of a toddler’s diet. By age one, babies can get enough energy and nutrients from the food they are eating. So long as they are eating other calcium rich foods (for example yoghurt and cheese and perhaps milk added to porridge or cereal), they will meet their calcium requirements. Offering water throughout the day will provide enough fluid. This is a revelation to many parents who are sure their babies need to progress to toddler formulas or cow’s milk if they are ceasing breast feeding.

For babies between 9 and 12 months it really depends on how often and for how long you’ll be leaving them. I’d usually recommend leaving either breastmilk or formula with the caregiver/ child care staff, but for many it quickly becomes apparent that bubs is going to do little more than take a few sips at best. Worse, continuing to force a bottle at a child that doesn’t want it, can be an unpleasant experience for all. You don’t want your baby making unpleasant associations with their caregiver or new place of care. If you’re only leaving your child for 1 or 2 days per week, I’d suggest you drop the worry and simply let the caregiver offer more food and water on those days. Breastfed your baby in the morning, as soon as you pick them up and then again before bed, and they’ll be just fine.

Between 6 and 9 months ideally you’d leave some expressed breastmilk or formula for baby, but as you inch closer to 9 months and depending on how regularly you need to leave your baby, the above advice may still work. Certainly under 6 months of age you’re going to need your baby to take something from a bottle.

My top tips for getting young babies to drink from a bottle include: Make sure they are sufficiently hungry and offer the bottle at their regular feed time, having allowed at least 3 hours between feeds (2 hours if the baby is very young and seems hungry). Bottles with teats that “mimic” the shape of the nipple are often better accepted than others. I like the Tommy Tippee range which you can find here:

Some babies will actively refuse the bottle no matter what you do. I have occasionally had success getting such babies (over 6 months of age) to drink from an open cup. This is messy and slow, but can be an option if you really need it.

Ideally someone other than the Mother should offer baby a bottle. As soon as baby is placed with Mum, they are going to want the familiar routine of a breastfeed.
Introducing a regular bottle early on (generally not before 6 weeks of age as during this time babies and Mums are still learning to breastfeed) can be helpful in getting them to accept a bottle long term. If you know you’re returning to work I’d suggest offering a regular bottle once or twice per week to get baby happily accepting a bottle long before it’s required.

In reality, persistence is the key. If you really need your baby to take a bottle, I’d put aside a whole day (perhaps a weekend day when the other parent is around offer it) to work on it. If they have refused the first time it’s offered. Wait an hour and try again. Be prepared to offer a large number of distractions and entertainment during this time as baby is likely to be getting hungry and cranky! The hungrier they get, the more likely they will give in and take what is offered. I won’t lie, this can be the most stressful of exercises, and if it all gets too much for you or your baby, put it aside and try again another day. The vast majority of babies eventually take enough to get them by at childcare and a good breastfeed before and after pick up, will help make up for any shortfall.

I’ve breastfed all four of my kids and have had mixed experiences trying to get each to accept a bottle. When my first child was four months old I returned to work 2 days a week for a short contract lasting a couple of months. Despite all my knowledge, pumping from day 1 and trying to introduce a bottle early, my little boy did not want a bar of it. The closer my return to work date loomed, the more stressed I became. My husband generally had more success with the bottle than I did, although my little boy took small amounts at best, and I generally returned home to a hysterical baby and distraught husband. With no other option, I returned to work and crossed my fingers that he would be okay. Luckily my Mum had volunteered to look after my little boy and her patience combined with my absence, resulted in him taking moderate amounts of expressed breastmilk on the days I was at work. He was never unhappy or stressed and I’m sure he made up for any difference with me breastfeeding him on demand when I returned home (ok so I may have run into the house on those nights peeling my clothes off as I did to feed him 😀).

I found the whole experience of trying to get my first child to take a bottle so stressful that by the time my second child came along I knew I didn’t want to repeat it. I wasn’t planning such an early return to work and so I simply didn’t worry about introducing a bottle in the early months. When he was 8 months old I returned to work 1 day per week. This time I made no plans or great attempts to get the bottle in before I started. I did leave some expressed breast milk with our nanny but after the first few weeks it was clear he had no interest and I was wasting my time. He was clearly happy with food and water and so I just left it at that. I continued to feed him morning and night and on demand as per usual on the other days of the week. Happy baby, happy Mum and his nutrition did not suffer as a result of the 10 hours each week where he got slightly less breastmilk than normal.
With my third and fourth children I planned longer maternity leaves and simply didn’t worry about introducing a bottle. For simplicities sake if I needed time away from them when they were very little, I did a mad dash between feeds. As they got older I used solids and water to stretch them out if I wasn’t going to make it home in time for their feed.

If you’ve got tips on how you got your child to take a bottle, we’d love to hear them!

Julia @ Bloom

This post is not sponsored


Life as a Mum is BUSY.

With the average young child interrupting you every 2.5 mins (yes that’s a true fact!) it’s not surprising that you might be finding it difficult to eat properly.

Perhaps you’re a new Mum and between the sleep deprivation and the overwhelming sense that every hour in day is being used, your surviving on not much more than coffee and take away? Or maybe your children are at the toddler stage, and you feel like your life is an endless merry-go round of preparing meals and snacks and then cleaning up said meals and snacks, that the thought of making something for yourself is just too hard. Hello crusts off your child’s discarded vegemite sandwich!

Or maybe your kids are a bit bigger and you’re madly preparing lunch boxes in the morning to get everyone off to school and work but don’t prepare anything for yourself?

We’ve heard it before, you can’t pour from any empty cup, and part of looking after yourself is making sure your body is getting the nutrition that it needs.

If you’re currently breastfeeding your body is working extra hard to supply your baby with all the milk he or she needs. Breastfeeding Mum’s need around 500 extra calories every day. On top of that you also have greater needs for protein, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and a variety of B vitamins.

Don’t panic though if you feel your diet has been poor. Your body will draw from it’s own stores to make sure that you are producing breastmilk that contains all the right nutrients. There’s plenty of good evidence to show that even women who are poorly nourished, are still able to produce sufficient breastmilk.

That said, you need to eat well to look after yourself. Poor nutrition is only going to make you more tired and lethargic, and have you wondering how you are going to get through the day.

Another thing that is certain to cross your mind from time to time as a parent, is your own longevity. It’s only natural that we want to be around for them as long as possible. When we look at “Blue Zones” (those areas of the world where people are living the longest) diet -along with physical activity, maintaining a health weight and limiting alcohol intake- is one of the biggest predictors of longevity.

The one thing I know for sure after having 4 kids in 7 years, is that eating well comes down to one thing PLANNING. I also know that the easiest way to make sure you are getting your 5 serves of veggies each day is to plan to have a salad or soup at lunch. In fact I’ll go as far as to say that if you’re not, then you’re unlikely to reach your target. Not that there is anything wrong with a sandwich, you just need to make sure its LOADED with veggies/salad, remembering that 1 cup of salad greens equals 1 serve of veges.

I’m going to share with you my formula for making sure I eat well at lunch EVERY day.

In the warmer months a salad is definitely my go to option for lunch. If you’re thinking a salad is not going to fill you up, think again! One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen women make when they start trying to eat well, is to eat a salad consisting of not much more than lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Such low calorie options are only going to leave you hungry and looking for the nearest snack. Not only does your salad need to include veges, but also fats, proteins and long lasting carbohydrates to ensure you’re well fuelled until your next meal.

Now there’s no way I’ve got time prepare food everyday, so my trick is to prepare what I like to call a salad base once or twice a week, and then quickly add items to this at the time of eating that will wilt or brown if prepared ahead of time.

It always includes a wholegrain long lasting carbohydrate such quinoa, brown rice, wholemeal cous cous or israeli cous cous.

Don’t even have time to cook some rice or quinoa? Never fear those little pots from SunRice cook in the microwave in 40 seconds and are an absolute time saver.

Add a variety of vegetables.

If I’ve got time I like to add some roasted pumpkin, but I also use tinned beetroot segments, red onion, tinned chickpeas, tinned sweetcorn kernels or tinned lentils. Did you know that tinned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh? That’s because they are picked and packed at their peak, so the nutritional content remains high. They’re a good choice for time poor mums!

I also like to dress my salad base (my favourite is a white balsamic dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic, dijon mustard and seasoned with salt and pepper). You could also make your dressing ahead of time and dress at the time of eating if you prefer.

When I’m ready to eat the salad I add a base of greens such as rocket, baby spinach or kale, and little avocado.

My salads are usually meat free, occasionally I add tuna, but I always add some protein and fat with a variety of cheese, usually feta or grilled haloumi (hint: use your sandwich press to grill it super quickly) or boiled eggs.
Lastly I like to top my salads with pepitas, walnuts or pine nuts for a good dose of healthy fats and little extra protein.


When the weather is cooler, a soup is my preferred lunch option. Now here is where the art of planning comes in. I”ll make a large batch of soup on a Monday and serve this up for our family’s dinner. Then I’ll have the rest of the soup for my lunch across the week. Winning!

One of my favourite soups is a minestrone made with chorizo rather than bacon. It’s packed full of veggies and legumes and you can get the recipe here at Bloom. I won’t lie, my kids are fairly fussy when it comes to this soup, but the one thing they all do is pull out the chorizo to eat. I’m not fussed that they do this. Using their hands and utensils to explore the soup and pull out what they like, helps improve familiarity with the food ,and eventually they’ll learn to eat it. I also try to help them by playing games like “How many balls (chickpeas) can you find in your soup”? We always serve it with crusty bread, so no one goes hungry.

Finally, I usually follow my lunch with either a smoothie (banana, maple syrup and cinnamon made with cow’s milk is a favourite) or a fruit salad topped with greek yoghurt. This will get me right through to dinner, without the need for a snack in between.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get busy in the kitchen!

Julia @ Bloom 🌿