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Reverse Nursing Cycling: What Does It Have To Do With Baby Bottle Refusal?

Having a baby is surely one of the most amazing things a human being can experience, but it can be sometimes challenging, especially during his/her very first few weeks of life.

But for some Moms, like you, the challenging factor ramps up to a whole new level when they have to go back to work.

All of a sudden, a new problem crops up baby bottle refusal. In other words, the baby refuses the bottle (which is typically followed by heart-wrenching cries) in the daytime and eats more at night.

Imaginably, any Mom with a job to report to in the morning would be stressed out about this sudden baby bottle refusal.

So–what’s up with this change in feeding pattern? And more importantly, is there anything back-to-work Moms can do about this frustrating and exhausting change? Well, that’s what this article is for; continue reading to get answers to your burning questions.

Baby with nutritional difficulties

What is the reason behind baby bottle refusal?

There can be many reasons behind your baby's sudden refusal of the bottle. Regardless, for many Moms who've gone back to work, the most common underlying cause is this: your baby prefers to nurse.

While breastfeeding, your little one creates a special bond with you. He or she associates feeding with this special bonding time. And perhaps more importantly, breastfeeding is also an impressive form of comfort.

Your baby feels safe when he or she is wrapped up in the warmth and comfort of your arms, especially since you’ve started spending time away from home. Thus, explaining why they'd only consume just enough milk (if at all) to curb hunger during the daytime, then wait till you're back to get the bulk of his/her calories.

What is reverse nursing cycling?

Just so you know, this baby bottle refusal phenomenon has a name: reverse nursing cycling. And it is precisely what it sounds like–a baby who continually breastfeeds at night, and not much during the day. Most often, this nursing pattern emerges when a baby is around 4 to 5 months of age.

It also typically happens when a mother's parental leave ends, and the baby has to start on a new nursing schedule.

Do note that there isn’t anything wrong per se with reverse cycling for the babies. It doesn’t matter when your baby is feeding, just as long as he/she is getting in enough. In fact, some moms who prefer to pump less milk when away from their babies may even encourage reverse cycling!

Breastfeeding is a form of comfort

How to stop reverse cycling

Feel like the all-night feast is impacting your mental wellbeing? Don’t worry. There are plenty of bottle refusal tips you can apply to your baby. Here’s how to stop reverse cycling–and along with it, your baby’s stubborn refusal for the bottle.

Baby bottle refusal tips that involve Mom’s help

  • Nurse frequently when you’re home – Or, more specifically, breastfeed your little one in the mornings before you leave for work and in the evening once you get home. Frequent nursing can encourage your baby to sleep longer stretches at night.

  • Co-sleep – While trying to break the reverse cycling feeding pattern, you'd undoubtedly still have to feed your baby at night (hopefully, with decreasing frequencies). To maximize sleeping time, try co-sleeping with your little one; this way, you can nurse quickly at night and fall asleep faster with less uninterrupted sleep. This can also discourage your baby from comfort feeding since he/she will be close to you.

  • Work out a suitable working arrangement – If it's at all possible, try asking your employer if you could work from home or work on a part-time basis for a period. This way, you can reinforce your baby's circadian rhythm until they're old enough to understand that the nighttime is for uninterrupted sleep.

Baby bottle refusal tips that involve the babysitter’s help

  • Avoid distractions when bottle-feeding – Many activities take place during the daytime. This, coupled with your baby's increasing curiosity, makes for a very distracted baby. So, do remind your babysitter to only offer the bottle after minimizing distractions. Turn off all sound sources, like the TV or the radio. Better yet, get your babysitter to only feed your little one in a quiet room without people, children, or pets.

  • Try a breast-like bottle nipple – Your baby's refusal of the bottle might simply be the case that it just doesn't mimic your breast's motion, flow, and feeling. And that’s where the Teatle comes in. Created to fill the gap between breastfeeding and baby bottles, the Teatle helps babies bottle-feed naturally by allowing a deep and comfortable latch–just as they would with a breast. Best of all? Through its use of the REALATCH™ technology, it even feels like a breast!

  • Wrap the bottle with your clothes – If your baby is indeed reliant on you for comfort, wrapping the bottle with your worn clothes (so it smells like you) can help. Doing so can trick your baby into thinking that you're breastfeeding them, especially when done in tandem with a breast-like bottle nipple.

  • Offer the bottle at regular intervals – The best thing your babysitter can do is offer the bottle at regular intervals. Offer it every half-hour (patiently!) until he/she feeds. Babies can be stubborn and may hold out for prolonged periods, but they'll take the bottle once they get hungry. A healthy baby will not starve himself/herself.

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help

Feeding difficulties –like the refusal of the bottle and reverse cycling– are common problems during the baby and toddler stage. Don't panic if you and your baby are struggling to cope with your transition back to work.

There are many different approaches you can take to fixing the problem. Just remember to take the process one day at a time, and with enough patience, consistency, and dedication, you'll soon find that your baby is back to a regular nursing cycle.

That said, do make sure that your baby is getting enough milk. If you think your baby is failing to get enough food during the day- and nighttime, please consult a doctor immediately. Also, take a look at the Services and support for parents by the National Health Service.

1 Comment

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Can Hüzmeli
Can Hüzmeli
Oct 06, 2020

Very useful article, thanks.

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