After a series of stressful and frustrating experimentations, it appears we have finally found a bottle that works for Lina. To be clear, she still leaks milk out of her mouth as she drinks – a LOT of milk. It’s something we’ll be talking about with the early intervention teacher at our first therapy appointment this week. (It is thoroughly depressing to see her burp cloths soaked in my hard-won breast milk. Not to mention the laundry!) But we at least have her off the disposable nipples they sent home from the NICU, and she is able to latch appropriately onto the bottle and get enough to sustain steady weight gain. She is now just over 9 lb.
So, in case it’s helpful to anyone facing similar issues, here are the bottles we tried:
- Disposable Similac regular flow nipples from the NICU (which we washed and reused for a good 5 or 6 weeks), paired with the Medela pump milk collection bottles – These latex-type nipples worked great for the first several weeks, but as she got bigger and stronger, the flow was much too slow. Feedings were taking an hour, and she was getting frustrated and tired trying to get the milk out of the one tiny hole. These nipples are not made in any other flow level. We tried poking larger holes in them with a heated needle but could not seem to get the size right and worried a bit about continuing to use what were supposed to be disposable nipples.
- Dr. Brown’s glass bottles with newborn flow nipples – The shape is the same as the Similac nipples, but these are silicone rather than latex. She has refused these and any other silicone nipples. The texture seems to really throw her off.
- Avent bottles (which Corin used) – Silicone nipples again, and a less familiar shape. Soundly rejected.
- Playtex Nurser with Drop-Ins – This system can be used with either silicone or latex nipples. We tried both the slow and fast flow latex options. She did better with them than any of the silicone nipples, but these were extremely soft and a different shape than what she was used to, and she did not seem to latch onto them effectively. She had some okay feedings but was inconsistent and would have some really terrible ones, as well. We gave up on these after a few days.
- Gerber First Essentials bottles and latex three-hole nipples – FINALLY, the solution. They are identical in shape to the disposable Similac nipples, so she latched great and took to them right away. The flow is some faster but not too fast, and feedings are down to an average of about 30 -35 minutes. Bonus: They are cheap! Three 5 oz. bottles were about $5 or $6 at Wal-Mart, and a pack of six latex nipples was maybe $3. Also, these are a standard size, so the nipples also fit on the Medela milk collection bottles and a couple of random glass Evenflo bottles we had on hand. Only downside: They do not seem to make the latex nipples in a fast flow, so I’m not sure what we’ll do if/when she outgrows the medium flow.
It was a difficult process, but thankfully we have something that seems to be working, and she is gaining weight steadily. We give her about 4 1/2 to 5 oz. six (occasionally seven) times a day. She is sleeping 5-7 hours at night. We have a pediatrician appointment on Wednesday, so hopefully he’ll be happy with her weight gain.