Since my baby girl was 4-5 months old, she would only drink her bottles while asleep. When she is awake, she will REFUSE that bottle at all costs. To get her to drink during the day I would have to put her down for a nap and once she fell asleep, I would give her the bottle and she would drink it. She is now 12 months and does the same thing. She does not eat any solids and I have tried everything including baby-lead weaning. She would take one bite…two at most and that’s it. It is getting harder now that she is older and walking because she does not want to nap as often as I would like to feed her. Now she is only wanting to take two naps. That means two bottles and one when she falls asleep for the night. So overall she is having three bottles of 6-7 oz of toddler formula per day (with no solids — only a few puff Gerber snacks in between). I do not know what to do. Any advice or solution to this? FYI — I have tried the starving until she takes it herself, but it did not work. she went 8-9 hours without eating and still was not “hungry.”

It sounds like your baby may have two separate issues. The first is that she is only taking her bottle while asleep. This typically starts in infancy when the baby makes a negative association between taking the bottle and some type of discomfort. This is called a post-traumatic feeding disorder.  If the original discomfort goes away, some babies go back to drinking the bottle awake. Some babies never drink the bottle awake and need to be transitioned more quickly to other forms of feeding, such as breast milk or formula from a cup or from a spoon.

The second issue is that she seems to also be struggling to advance on to an age-appropriate diet.  This can happen when a baby has delays in their oral-motor skills (biting, chewing, tongue movements) and/or if a baby does not like the way certain foods feel in their mouth, a sensory issue.

I would recommend having her see her pediatrician to check her growth and weight gain and see what they think. Both issues can be addressed by a feeding specialist. However, if she has motor or sensory issues affecting her ability to advance onto an age-appropriate diet, she will usually also be referred to a feeding therapist, which is a speech or occupational therapist who specialize in feeding to work on advancing her skills and decreasing her oral sensitivities.

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Laura McWade Paez Laura McWade Paez, MSN, CPNP-PC, is a pediatric nurse practitioner in the Children's National Hospital Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

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