The Blands

Baby bottle battles and other challenges

Sleepless nights, bottle battles and baby proofing everything in sight: Eight months in, Steve reveals some of the challenges he and Rachael have faced as new parents.

Before I became a father, the idea of a baby NOT taking a bottle of milk – be it breast milk or formula - was something I had never even considered. Babies drink from bottles, right? Well, in most cases I’m sure they do. In fact, I know they do because I see it on the train, the bus, in restaurants and whenever we meet up with our NCT friends. But our little Freddie does not.

To be fair he relents a little first thing in the morning and I can give him a bottle while Rachael recharges the batteries in bed - but I think he’s that hungry when he wakes up that he’d drink eat anything. Trying a bottle later in the day is almost always met with a flat refusal. I’d go so far as to say that the ‘bottle battle’ has been our single biggest challenge in the first eight months of being parents. But it isn’t the only challenge we’ve had to tackle…

Sleep….or lack of

It’s the most famous of all the challenges and one that for the first two or three months we got nowhere near cracking. Moving Fred into his own room at around three months – well before the widely advised six month point - was the best move for all parties. It gave him more space to move around and babble to himself AND as I’ve mentioned before, the baby whisperer pointed us in the right direction with our routine.

This seems like an obvious thing to say but getting night times as settled as possible, as early as possible, is so important. If you’ve had a decent night of sleep then anything (within reason) feels manageable. Having said that, we're kicking off every day at about 6am at the moment and that does – for us at least – take its toll!

The bottle battle

History has seen some ferocious and hard fought battles but this would rival any of them. It might seem tough to understand if you haven’t been through this but the frustration we both feel as Freddie bats the bottle away AGAIN, shuts his mouth and then starts to cry is something I can’t remember feeling before. It’s partly born out of selfishness I guess.

Having a baby who takes a bottle would, I’m sure, make life a darn sight easier for Rachael particularly but we’re getting to the point now when we want to stop breastfeeding altogether and his attitude to bottles is making it difficult to make sure we get enough milk into him. One solution that we have employed has been to give him a very milky bowl of Weetabix before bed. If you get away from the idea that you MUST give a baby a milk feed before bed – and think instead about just getting enough into him throughout the course of the day – life becomes easier.

Cot napping

This is something that I will hold my hands up and admit, we haven’t figured out. But like with so many things, we have found A solution if not THE solution. Fred won’t sleep during the day in his cot but we found that he would sleep in his pram and more recently, his pushchair. So that’s what we do. Not perfect, I know – and I’m sure some might say we’re causing ourselves a problem because at some stage he’ll have to sleep in his bed during the day. Like I said, it’s A solution.

Baby proofing

This is a new one. In the space of the last two weeks, Freddie has gone from not crawling to being an expert crawler AND pulling himself up on a sofa or table to a standing position and while I’m very proud of a little boy who picks things up so so quickly, I’m also terrified. All of a sudden, we see potential hazards everywhere we look. Table corners, the fireplace, grubby dog toys….they all spell danger BUT, being a little boy, those are exactly the things that Fred is interested in holding, chewing and climbing on. On my day off this week, the baby gates are going up and I’ll be fitting locks on some of the cupboards.

The one thing that might be hard to baby-proof is the dog. Poor old Bodie is getting tortured on a daily basis. As soon as we put Freddie down and he starts crawling, he makes a bee-line for Bodie and uses him as a big, furry climbing frame. While we’d never leave the two of them unattended – especially when Fred seems intent on pulling Bodie’s ears – we are very lucky to have such a tolerant and mild mannered dog.

So there we go. Just four of the many, many challenges that an eight month old baby comes with. But for every challenge and every frustration there are so many moments of pure joy. Trust me, it’s worth the pain!

Steve