My son is in the Nicu and won't eat from a bottle..anybody go through this

My son was born at 33 weeks 6 days and is in the Nicu and won't eat from the bottle consistently,and what he doesn't eat from the bottle they feed him through the feeding tube. One time he will eat the whole bottle and then the next time he only eats 20cc's. Have any of you had this problem with your preemie?

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This is one of the most common issues preemies have. When preemies are learning to eat, it takes an enormous amount of energy and brain function - unlike full term children who are born with facial muscles and formed neurological systems making them ready to eat orally, preemies need to learn and practice. It took my 30-weekers three weeks to go from inconsistent feeding (3-4 cc's a few times a day, to 20 cc's up to 50 cc's) to consistently finishing bottles.
Some tips that may help:
1 - Make sure you are never pouring the bottle into his mouth and that the bottle is always horizontal - this encourages them to improve their suck skills and will insure that he doesn't get overwhelmed by too much milk.
2 - pull the nipple in and out of his mouth throughout the feeding, even if just by a 1/2" or so - to encourage him to keep latching onto the nipple and to keep him awake.
3 - Burp frequently during each feeding. This helps stimulate him to stay awake and work on the feeding, and will minimize discomfort from digestion and any possible reflux. We burped every 1/2 ounce.

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My daughter was born at 32weeks and she ate great for the first week of her time in the NICU on my pumped breast milk which was fortified. At 33+3 she began having problems with feeding as her Billie levels elevated. She had a feeding tube put in and was fed what she couldn't stay awake for. They only had to use the tube a couple times, but say it is very common for preemie babies. I kept telling myself when I would get frustrated with seeing it there that it was only to help us go home earlier, and it did! We were able to go home at 34 weeks and 5 days. :) good luck!

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How old is he now? Unless he is very close to due date, this sounds like normal preemie behavior. As PPs said, it takes energy to cordinate what is required for feedings, and many babies can't manage it all until w/i a few weeks from due date.

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Practice does make perfect for preemies. Everyone above has given wonderful advice and techniques to use. I found this milestone a frustrating time. My son was born at 26 weeks and was a "grower and feeder" bottle feeding is what kept him in the hospital 42 days longer. One feeding he would take the whoe thing and another feeding he would take 10-20cc then they would ng tube the rest. All the nicu nurses said one day it would just click for him and would start taking full feeds. We tried everything... Keepin the bottle horizontal, roving the nipple several time, half way burping and sleeping at the hospital round the clock so that my husband and I were the only ones feeding him ( we found some night nurses didn't have the time/ patience and would ng the whole feed even though he was alert and ready to feed) finally we took him home on his ng tube. After 7 days at home with the tube in he ripped out his tube and started taking full bottles and never went back. The lightbulb finally went off for feeding. Take your time keep you patience and have faith it will happen when your child is ready.

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Feeding issues were one of My Bradee's issues that kept him in nicu. so it is normal for preemies to go through this.

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yes
very common
they don;t learn that til week 38 or so
i think
anyway
hope this helps
wle

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the nicu my son was in, the nurses said that white baby boys take the longest they call them whimpy little white boys(I don't know if it's really true or not) my son wouldn't even try to suck intil 16 days after birth. than it took another 4 days til he drink 2 ounces. they figure it out in time but since they never made it to suck on their fingers in the womb they still have alot to learn.

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Hey there,

If your son has no reasons why he shouldn't be able to feed himself, make sure that he doens't become tube fed dependent. We are now going through the hell of trying to get rid of our daughter's NG tube that she has had for five months.. the problem is if they are fed by NG they aren't hungry, and they don't associate the bottle/breast with solving the hunger need. An NG tube can also cause reflux/vomiting/gagging and make it difficult to latch on to the bottle/swallow. I don't mean to frighten you, but just make sure the priority is ALWAYS on maintaining oral feeding... otherwise later on you will have to get your child off of the NG by weaning... google tube fed kids to find out more... if I'd known now that NG tubes were such an issue I would have made sure that we focused more on oral feeding at the time but we had doctors who told us our child's swallow might be unsafe when it was perfectly fine, then we were told she had reflux, and now I discover the NG can cause reflux! Good luck to you x

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Teene22,

Tinkersmom's experience, while terrible, I don't believe is at all relevant to your situation. Many preemies take a few weeks to learn how to eat. I find it very, very unlikely that a preemie born at 33 weeks and 6 days would become ng-tube-dependent on a long-term basis without other developmental problems going on. Now is not the time to panic or worry, but to be patient and understanding that your little one is taking a little longer to learn to eat. It is perfectly normal and expected that your son will be fed what he doesn't eat through his bottle through a tube. He will eat from a bottle exclusively when he is ready. I know it's hard to watch them being fed through a tube, and I am sure you just want him home. Know that he will be home soon. One day he will just be ready.

My daughter (I have 28-weeker twins) hated the NG tube and yanked it out herself multiple times (once when I was watching!) And yes, at 16 months adjusted she is still very strong willed. Each time she yanked the tube out, they wouldn't put it back in until she couldn't finish her bottles and needed it. The last time she yanked it out, she began finishing her bottles like a champ and that was that. I don't know if this will be at all helpful, but around that time they changed her to a 4-hour-feeding schedule from a 3-hour-feeding schedule (so bigger bottles less often) so that she would be hungrier and eat more. It seemed to help. Good luck--and know this too shall pass.

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My daughter was born at 27 weeks and eating was by far the most frustrating thing for her to learn. By the time she was 40 weeks, she still wouldn't eat from a bottle consistently until I asked the doctor to just remove the NG tube and see what happens. Once she had no other option but to eat from the bottle she figured it out. I remember the nurses and doctors saying that this can be one of the longest processes for them to figure out - you just have to be patient!

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Re:
"Tinkersmom's experience, while terrible, I don't believe is at all relevant to your situation. Many preemies take a few weeks to learn how to eat. I find it very, very unlikely that a preemie born at 33 weeks and 6 days would become ng-tube-dependent on a long-term basis without other developmental problems going on. "

I would agree with this statement. A nearly 34-weeker will take some time learning how to eat, but tube feeding dependency is highly, highly unlikely, especially with a late term preemie. Patience is the key to your issue, more than likely.

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Our preemie had the same issues. He was 32 wks. I had been a medically trained foster parent for years and knew of the difficulties that he might have. Tried like HELL to convince the team that we knew what we could do for him we just needed them to release him. He spent 3 wks too long in the NICU. Finally a person listened and suggested his mommy be obsered in a 1 day overnite setting just outside the NICU and he was released that day. We thickened the feed with rice and elevated him something they were unwilling to do. He now is 9 mths and weigh 24 lbs. was 4 lbs. 2oz. He eats everything in sight

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My little guy liked to rip his out too! He was also a 33 weeker and was up and down on feeds! Sometimes he would do great, other times not so much! Its all apart of the preemie curve and I wouldn't worry about it too much right now.
Good luck

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We had this same problem with both our twins. Only when thickening was added did they start taking full feedings.

Bob

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I had the same experience with my 32 week guy. It took FOREVER for him to take from the bottle and to nurse, we had a lot of feeding issues! But now he drinks 60ML from the bottle and nurses like a champ! I know it's hard to hear this over and over again, but be patient, it will happen.

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38 weeks is exactly what they told me in the NICU with my son. And sure enough...38 weeks came and all of a sudden, everything started clicking for him. We were able to take the feeding tube out and he started bottle feeding exclusively. It's definitely common.

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It isn't unusual for children born early to not eat from bottles right away. I seem to recall that sucking and swallowing in a coordinated fashion usually takes place between 32 and 35 weeks gestation. Some kids, however, need a little more time given the shock of being born early.

Not taking bottles could be the result of:
1. Just not being quite there yet developmentally; may take a couple more weeks
2. Needing cheek or jaw support during feeds; ask to have a consultation with an occupational therapist who specializes in feeding behaviors and ask that person about the child's suck patterns (NOTE: Many preemies have weak cheek muscles.)
3. Reflux

Hope your child's NICU stay is brief.

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Feeding took 4 wks for Coralynn to get down , She had everything else resolved 2 wks after birth
We found some nurses would just tube feed her since it was faster while others would keep her "up"
We found un-wrapping her blankets and talking to her helped. It's true when they say it "just clicks"
but until the "click" it can be a slow process

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We had the same issue with our 34 weeker. It took about 2 weeks for him to really get it down. It is incredibly frustrating and I feel for you! Ask the nurses for tips to help him learn, and watch them when they bottle feed to see if you can learn anything. And breathe. Someday this will all just be a bad dream, promise.

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I had 33 week twins and while one always ate great the other did not. Our 4.11 lbs guy had a NG tube till he was 3 1/2 months old. We came home on one and had to change it and replace it ourselves. I had nurse issues that they would use the wrong nipple ( too fast flow ) or just NG feed him because they didn't want to try to get him to eat. It was faster and easier to put the bottle on the feeding machine. It is not fun and every baby learns at their own pace. Hang in there. Have speech therapy take a look at him and be sure everyone is on board on how to get him to eat. Some do better with a total of formula or milk in 12 hours instead of the focus being on each bottle. It is so hard - be strong! My little guy is now a big 17 lbs and loves all food.

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