Why Won’t My Baby Take a Bottle?

Having a new baby is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it is also one of the most stressful. One common problem that often frustrates parents is when their new baby refuses a bottle. While this feels like the most unnatural thing in the world, it is quite common among newborns and infants. 

There are several reasons why your baby might not take a bottle. One of the main reasons that babies refuse bottles is that the nipple has a flow that is not right for the baby. Another common issue occurs with breastfed babies who do not transition well to the bottle because they do not like how it feels or do not understand that a bottle can provide them with food. Changes in formula or changes with the brand of milk that you are using could cause a baby to refuse the bottle. For breast milk, eating different foods can affect the flavor. Finally, there are some medical conditions that might cause your baby to refuse the bottle.

A Closer Look at Why Your Baby Is Refusing a Bottle 

There are many reasons that a baby might refuse a bottle.

To be able to figure out how to help your baby take a bottle, you must first understand why they are refusing a bottle. 

The Flow’s Not Right 

One of the most common reasons that your baby refuses a bottle is because of flow issues from the bottle’s nipple. If your baby is breastfed, there is a good chance that the nipple flows too fast which can cause your baby to choke or have other issues swallowing. If little one is normally bottle-fed and they are suddenly refusing the bottle, perhaps the flow is too slow. 

Breast is Best 

Baby prefers breastfeeding over bottle-feeding

Many babies seem to agree that breast is best. If your baby is breastfed there are many reasons that they might refuse the bottle. The most common is that they do not understand how a bottle works.

Other reasons are that they do not get held the same way or do not understand that a bottle will offer them food.

Formula and Food Matter 

Baby formula changes can help your baby not refuse the bottle. If you're breastfeeding, take note of what you're eating.

Changing formulas can lead to a baby that refuses the bottle. If you are changing formulas for medical reasons, make sure that you talk to your physician about how to switch.

There is a process that will make transitions smooth for both you and your baby. Typically, this requires that you start with a mixture that is primarily your old formula and lead up to where you are offering just the new formula.

If your baby is breastfed, there could be something that you are eating that is causing your milk to taste different.

Medical Issues that Affect Feeding

Some medical issues can affect eating. Many swallowing disorders will cause issues with feedings. Some physical issues can also be to blame like being tongue and/or lip tied or having a cleft lip and/or palate.

There are some neurological conditions like Down syndrome or Cerebral Palsy that affect eating. Cardiac problems can also cause feeding issues.

If you are having feeding issues, it is a good idea to go to your child’s pediatrician to be diagnosed and ensure that there is not something more serious going on.

Helping Breastfed Babies Take a Bottle 

How to help breastfed babies take a bottle

There are a few things that can help your baby that is breastfed to be able to take a bottle.

  • Start giving your baby a bottle early. If you want the baby to take a bottle, make sure that you do offer bottle feedings regularly.
  • Do not give your baby a bottle. Make sure that someone else does. Your baby will not understand receiving a bottle from the same person who breastfeeds. In some cases, you might have to leave to get your little one to take a bottle. 
  • Make sure that your baby is hungry enough and that you are feeding him/her in a space that has few distractions and is quiet.

While these will not solve all breastfeeding to bottle issues, they are a good start for anyone who wants to make the transition smooth.

Bottle feeding can feel overwhelming. It does not have to. Be calm. Stay patient. Your baby and you will get the hang of things.

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We're a group of writers, mostly parents, some medically certified, who publish helpful articles for all stages of your child from newborn, infant, toddler, to a big kiddo.

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