Reviewed by: Linda M. Hanna, RNC, MSN/Ed., IBCLC
As a parent, wanting the best possible feeding experience for your baby is just one item on your endless list of priorities. It can be discouraging, to say the least, when your infant faces trouble bottle-feeding or getting on a regular feeding schedule. The good news is, you’re not alone and there are many solutions that might work for you. Keep reading to learn more about why your baby is refusing the bottle and what you can do to help.
What causes a baby to refuse the bottle?*
There’s nothing more frustrating for parents than not being able to communicate with their infants when something is wrong or not working. Luckily, we have the resources and data to help us find solutions to some of these challenges. When it comes to your baby refusing the bottle, start by addressing the following reasons your baby could be struggling.
Your baby doesn’t like the milk’s temperature – Breast milk is lukewarm. Check often to see if your bottled milk is too warm or cold and experiment with a temperature that suits your baby best.
The bottle is blocked – To make sure your baby is getting milk from your bottle’s teat (or hole), hold the bottle upside down. If milk isn’t flowing out of it quickly, you might have a blocked bottle. Make sure your formula is mixed well and try pinching the valve a few times.
Your baby was recently weaned – If your baby was recently weaned from breastfeeding, they might still be attached to the nursing routine. Be patient as they adjust to a new process.
Your baby doesn’t like the bottle – Put simply, your baby could be refusing their bottle because they don’t like the texture or feel of it. Try out different brands and see if their reaction changes.
If your baby still refuses the bottle after you’ve attempted a few different solutions, there might be a greater issue at play. We also recommend checking to see if your formula has expired, if your baby is sick, if they’re full, or even possibly distracted.
What to do when your baby refuses a bottle?*
We’ve gone over some of the challenges of getting your baby comfortable with a bottle. Now let’s take a look at what you can do to help your baby stop refusing their bottle and settle into a feeding schedule that works for everyone.
Find the right feeding position – Bottle-fed babies prefer different feeding positions than breastfed babies. Try sitting them on your knee so that your baby is propped up enough to look around the room. Make sure to feed your baby in a peaceful setting that isn’t too distracting.
Move around while feeding - It can help to walk around, try different positions, and allow your baby to latch onto the bottle nipple themselves as this stimulates the natural action of breastfeeding.
Consider the person who is doing the feeding – If you’re feeling frustrated, it can be very helpful to take a break and have someone else handle the feeding. Frustration can make the feeding process even more difficult while a calm, consistent presence helps your baby feel at ease.
Consider your baby’s level of hunger – If you’ve recently introduced your baby to solid foods as well, they may no longer want their bottle or be too full for it. Don’t force the process, try again later instead.
Close the gap between breast and bottle – Emulait’s biomimetic feeding system is the perfect solution if you’re looking to stimulate the texture, elasticity, milk flow and feel of a real nipple for a feeding experience that emulates breastfeeding.
When to see a doctor about your baby refusing a bottle?
It’s normal for babies to refuse a bottle sometimes. However, if you’ve tried every solution previously mentioned and your baby is still struggling, it might be time to consider their refusal as indicative of something more serious.
Call your doctor right away if your baby shows any of the following symptoms along with refusing the bottle:
- Constant crying
- Difficult breathing
What we’ve learned
There are plenty of reasons babies struggle with the bottle-feeding process, many of which are possible to resolve with a few key solutions and a lot of patience. Most babies eventually take a bottle and find their rhythm, even if it feels like it’s a losing battle for a while. Keep at it.
Advanced innovations like an Emulait bottle can also help you find the best feeding experience possible for your baby by using cutting-edge technology. Whether you’re combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding or exclusively bottle feeding, an Emulait bottle makes the transition easier. Emulait uses unique 3D algorithms to capture key nipple measurements to help tailor your own bottle to your anatomy and specific needs, so find your match today!
Keep in mind that as long as you continue to try different methods that work for your family, you’ll be on the road to finding the right bottle-feeding routine for your little one in no time.
Snyder, A. (2020, June 29). Baby refusing the bottle? try these tips. Healthline. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/baby-refusing-bottle
Contributors, W. M. D. E. (2021, March 17). Refusing a bottle: Why do babies do it? WebMD. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/baby/why-does-a-baby-refuse-a-bottle
Bottle refusal. The Institute for Breastfeeding and Lactation Education. (2016, July 8). Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://lacted.org/iable-breastfeeding-education-handouts/bottle-refusal