Freedom in a Bottle

I vividly remember the first time I left the house on my own after Connor was born. I went to a mall about 10 minutes from our house and it felt monumental. Significant. Almost like a prison break.

He was only two or three weeks old at the time, but we hadn’t introduced a bottle at that point and all I could think about was that I was carrying his sole source of food around with me. He was totally reliant on me and my body for his nutrition and there I was walking around a mall.

I got over that feeling eventually, of course, but breastfeeding made me feel tethered to him for a long, long time. He didn’t have anything else at all—no formula, nothing—until the day he hit six months and we gave him some rice cereal (and I cried because he was no longer dependent on me for nutrition. Apparently being a hormonal mom with PPD made me a little nuts in more ways than one).

We did introduce a bottle when Connor was five weeks old, and I remember the weird feeling of relief and pride. No, he wasn’t going to starve if I left the house and, yes, it was cool to see my husband feeding our baby. (And, oh, was he ever in love with giving Connor a bottle. I’ll never forget that first time.) Mostly, though, I was glad we had a way to feed Connor that didn’t require me to sit on the couch for an hour.

And then, when he was three months old, he started refusing to take a bottle. One night Rich did all the night feedings so I could sleep and after that, no more bottles for Connor. It was his way of protesting, I assume. He did start taking one again after we started solids, but the freedom ship had sailed at that point. For those months I was well and truly (and literally) attached to my baby.

With Ethan, however, it’s been totally different.

We started him on bottles slightly earlier and he has always taken them happily. I actually once came home right as Rich was feeding him and Ethan may as well have just said, “Hey, Mom! I’m having a bottle.” He was totally unfazed at me being there and finished the bottle happily. He’s still a champion nurser, too.

Naturally, I have taken full advantage of having a baby who will occasionally take a bottle. I’ll admit that I hate pumping as much as the next mom, but it’s been worth it in order to have some freedom.

In the early months, Rich gave Ethan a bottle in the mornings so I could sleep (and that right there is worth every single mooing sound the stupid pump makes). We’ve also used bottles a few times when I’ve gone out at night. I pumped when I got up or when I got home, and it worked beautifully. (The one Rich is using here is Dr. Brown’s, which we really liked – they’re easy to hold and easy to clean, and their bottle brushes actually get in all the little curves. My brother and sister-in-law have used this brand exclusively with their twins, if that tells you anything.)giving baby a bottle

But here’s where giving bottles has been really amazing: For the last several months Rich and I have been trading time off; we’ve each had two afternoons a week to work – time for me to write and time for him to work on illustrations. I wave goodbye to my husband and my baby and my freezer stash and happily sit at Starbucks. For, like, four hours. It’s new-mama heaven, I tell ya.

As I’ve sat there with my hot drink and my laptop and my headphones, I’ve often thought back to my time when Connor was a baby and wondered if I took for granted the freedom pumping and a bottle offered. Could I have bought myself more sanity? Maybe. But maybe not. We did what we could when we had the opportunity, but when a stubborn baby steadfastly refuses to take a bottle there’s not much you can do.

I try not to mourn the loss of freedom and sanity from that time around. I’ve just really, really enjoyed it with this one and I think, just maybe, it’s been one of the things that has made a difference.

Disclaimer: This post was generously sponsored by Dr. Brown’s, but the opinions and images are my own. And in thanks for the support Dr. Brown’s has given me, I have chosen Dr. Brown’s bottle-feeding supplies as part of my donation to community organizations helping with the recent flooding in Alberta, where I live. 

Some of the key features of the Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow bottles, which are available at retailers across Canada:

  • Helps reduce feeding problems – The Dr. Brown’s bottles are known for reducing colic, spit-up, burping, and gas.
  • Proven to help preserve bottle milk nutrients.
  • Vacuum-free feeding helps digestion – Good digestion is essential for babies, particularly newborns.
  • Patented Vent System and silicone nipple work together – Controlled flow so babies feed at their own pace.

For more information, visit 




  1. My daughter (now 2) refused to take a bottle and i couldnt deal with the guilt of her crying when we tried. Although she slept thru the night very young (we were so lucky!), so I was able to get out in the evening, but I think in a way it may have contributed to my ppd. I always felt panicked that she might starve, and that people wouldn’t do things “just right” when I was not right there with her…..even if I only went to the grocery store 2 minutes away, the feeling of panic and failure was often overwhelming. Not saying this was the cause of my ppd but it certainly did not help. For our second one, I think I will introduce the bottle sooner!

  2. Both my boys refused to take the bottle. The little one did for a short time when I was in hospital for the appendectomy, but it was a struggle. They’re both just boob people. :) Glad for you that Ethan uses the bottle!

  3. I started giving all of my babies a bottle right off the bat. With Juliet it was necessary because I had lost so much blood, my milk was slow in coming in. But I found that one sanity bottle a day really helped me keep my cool. :-)

  4. would you tell me please how long would it take to be able to leave the house? our baby was born in april but none of us has left the house in the last couple of weeks. And our night aren’t quiet at all, we’d really need some rest now…

  5. I remember the complete freedom I felt when Donut stopped nursing and we gave her a bottle. Even if I was home, it was nice to see someone else take over and feed her. I enjoyed the times I sat and nursed her, but it is very hard to get away and when I did, I too felt guilty that her food had been taken away for a bit.

  6. None of my 3 ever took a bottle. Now I am pregnant with #4. It would be nice if he accepted one for a once in a while thing but I find pumping, storing, warming, and cleaning such a pain!

  7. Dr. Browns bottles are great. I didn’t learn of them until I had my last two kids. It was a life saver when we learned that damian had colic. after switching to dr. brown to reduce the air in his tummy from the bottle drinking it was smooth sailing. my youngest natasha never ha the colic issue and i can honestly say it was due to us using dr. brown bottles. I have two teens and two preschoolers now. With the last two, I was only able to breast feed for a couple of weeks and then it was back to work. The combination of losing that thing that only I could do for them with having to leave to go back to work was so hard. I totally understand the feelings of loss from not breast feeding but girl breast feeding was such hard work! I applaud moms who do it for months. Thanks for sharing ur beautiful story.

  8. It’s hard not to go backwards and think about things we could have done. Oh, the amount of if onlies we can conjure up. My oldest wouldn’t take a bottle and I went back to work when she was two months old. She didn’t eat during the day, refused. I was feeding her in the car when I picked her up from daycare and driving myself mad during the 8+ hours I was away and she wasn’t eating. But, she wasn’t a fusser, so that helped. We got her on the bottle finally by four months but she was never much of a bottle and breast girl; she wanted one or the other. It was a challenge. My second was laid back like Ethan; just feed me. And the boy got to stay with me at work until he was six months so he only got a bottle occasionally (but thankfully he took it with minimal protest).

    And now I’m laughing because even though I think we’re done there’s a bag of bottles in his room far back in a closet. Except, it wasn’t back far enough and he found it recently and asked if he could drink out of one. Um, no. And maybe I should get rid of them. Maybe.

  9. Christine Hunter says:

    Can you share the brand of pump that you use? I am looking to get replace the one I currently have, when I get pregnant with my second child.

  10. I made the mistake of STOPPING the bottle in the last three weeks of my maternity leave and going all BF. So when it was time to go back to work, guess who didn’t want to take the bottle? That was a struggle. Bottles are a great way for dad, grandma, and grandpa, friends, and other relatives to get in involved and help too, even if you’re BF’ing most of the time. :)

  11. My second child, the one I suffered the ppd with also refused the bottle. My first was so good with it and I enjoyed that freedom, so it added to the anger when she wouldn’t. I often wonder if she sensed my need to get away from her and that was natures way of keeping me close to her for a for moments everyday or why it happened with only her.

  12. Introducing bottles to my babes both at a few weeks old, was one of the smarted things I could have done, it gave me the opportunity to be “human” and have time away by myself, but it also gave my husband that chance to bond, that would normally be reserved for just me.

  13. I totally agree! I loved using a bottle because it was so helpful to have people be able to help. I always used Dr Browns!

  14. I had a great pump, but I only used it a couple of times. I couldn’t stand the agony of sitting with that noise and dealing with the discomfort for an hour, only to end up with barely more than a quarter of a bottle filled. I suppose it may have gotten better had I stuck with it, but I so enjoyed the one-on-one time with my little ones, in spite of the sheer and utter daily exhaustion. I, too cried like a baby when it was over at around 6 months, due to medication I had to start taking.

  15. I don’t know why exactly, but this post made me feel shear relief and happiness for you (for whatever that is worth). And can I just say that you are doing such a wonderful job. Girl! I don’t know you that well and I am proud of you. :)

  16. I had a nurser who did NOT want bottles. Those first few weeks were crazy, where there was a baby on me ALL THE TIME. (or so it seemed). Glad you get some good breaks this time around… :)