breastfed and formula fed baby suddenly refusing bottle

Why Your Breastfed or Formula Fed Baby Suddenly Refuses a Bottle

Your baby suddenly refuses a bottle. Bottle refusal can be attributed to a number of different reasons. It could be that the baby has simply as your baby isn’t hungry, or it could be that it’s the wrong nipple flow. Some babies may also reject a bottle because of teething or they might not like the feel of the nipple or the taste of the formula. Whatever the reason, it’s important to figure out why & how to fix it

If your baby is refusing to take a bottle, don’t worry, you’re not alone! This problem is actually quite common. There are a few things you can do to troubleshoot this issue and get your baby drinking from a bottle again in no time.

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Reasons for a breastfed baby suddenly refusing bottle

Your Baby Prefers to Nurse

One reason breastfed babies may be refusing the bottle is that they simply prefer to nurse. This isn’t uncommon with breastfed babies when you transition to bottle feeding and usually occurs when the baby is older, around six months or so. If your baby is older and still refusing bottles, it’s likely that they just need time to get used to it.

They don’t like the taste

Breast milk that has been previously frozen can change in taste. Some say that the freezing and thawing process can give it more of a soapy taste. If your baby is refusing the bottle because of taste, you can try alternating freshly expressed breast milk and thawed breast milk until they are used to the taste.

Breast milk can also change in taste when the mom is on her period. It will quickly return to what they are used to and they will learn to appreciate the variety of tastes.

Related: How to Travel with Breast Milk

Formula fed baby suddenly refusing bottle

They don’t like the taste

Different formulas will have different tastes. If you are trying out a new formula, they may be surprised to taste a new one. If your baby is refusing the bottle because of taste, you can try alternating between two different types of formula until they are used to the taste.

breastfed and formula fed baby suddenly refusing bottle

Related: Best Organic Formulas for Breastfed Babies

Reasons why your baby could be refusing a bottle

If your baby suddenly refuses a bottle, there could be a number of different reasons. Try troubleshooting the issue and see if you can figure out what is causing the problem. If you are still having difficulty, talk to your pediatrician for more help.

Your baby isn’t hungry

It could be as simple as they aren’t hungry and just aren’t ready to eat yet. Try offering the bottle again in an hour or so.

The nipple flow is too fast or slow

If the nipple flow is too fast, your baby may get frustrated because they can’t control the milk flow. If the nipple flow is too slow, your baby may get impatient and give up. Try a different nipple flow.

The bottle is too hot or cold

If the bottle is too hot, your baby may not want to drink from it because it’s uncomfortable. If the bottle is too cold, your baby may not be able to hold it properly and could end up dropping it. Try warming or cooling the bottle before offering it to your baby.

Your baby is teething

If your baby is teething, they may be in pain and not want to eat. Try offering a cold teething toy or pacifier to help soothe them. You can also try giving them a small amount of teething gel if they are in a lot of pain.

The milk has gone bad

Check the expiration date on your formula or the date for when you pumped the breast milk to see if it has expired. If it has, you may need to get fresh milk.

The bottle is dirty

If the bottle is dirty or has some soap residue left on it, your baby may not want to drink from it. Try cleaning the bottle and nipple with warm water and soap and rinse it thuroughly. Make sure everything is dry before offering it to your baby.

The nipple hole is clogged or broken

If the nipple hole is clogged, your baby won’t be able to get any milk out. Try unclogging the nipple with a needle or toothpick.

Bottle nipples will often break and need to be replaced about every 1-3 months. Check and see if it needs to be replaced since this can cause a choking hazard.

They are sick

If your baby is sick, they may not want to eat because they don’t feel well. If your baby has a fever, you can see a doctor.

breastfed and formula fed baby suddenly refusing bottle

They have gas

If your baby has gas, they may be uncomfortable and not want to eat. Try burping them during and after feedings. You can also try using a pacifier or gripe water to help soothe them.

Your baby is full

If your baby is full, they may not want to eat anymore. Try offering a smaller amount of milk next time.

They are uncomfortable

If your baby is uncomfortable, they may not want to eat. Check to see if their diaper needs to be changed. You can also try burping them or swaddling them.

Your baby is distracted

Your baby may be distracted by something and not want to eat. Try turning off any electronics or moving to a quiet place. You can also try offering the bottle when your baby is sleepy.

breastfed and formula fed baby suddenly refusing bottle

There are many different reasons why your baby may suddenly refuse a bottle. Try troubleshooting the issue and see if you can figure out what is causing the problem. If you are still having difficulty, talk to your pediatrician for more help.

Things You Can Do When Your Baby Is Suddenly Refusing A Bottle

It can be hard when your baby is refusing a bottle. Here are some things to try:

1. Keep trying

Don’t give up if your baby suddenly starts refusing a bottle. They may just need some time to adjust to the change. Keep offering the bottle and eventually, they will start drinking from it again.

2. Try a different nipple size or type

If your baby is having trouble with the nipple, try a different size or type. There may be a specific style that they prefer. You can also try a nipple with a different flow rate.

3. Warm or cool the milk

If the milk is too cold or too hot, your baby may not want to drink it. Try warming or cooling the bottle before offering it to your baby. For consistency, you can get a bottle warmer so it can be the temperature that they prefer every time.

breastfed and formula fed baby suddenly refusing bottle

4. Burp your baby

Burping your baby during and after feedings can help them to feel more comfortable. It can also help to get rid of any gas that they may have.

5. Try a different position

If your baby is refusing a bottle, try offering it to them in a different position. Some babies prefer to be held upright when they are drinking from a bottle, while others may like to be laid down.

6. Wait until they are sleepy

Try offering the bottle to your baby when they are sleepy. They may be more likely to take it if they are tired.

7. Be patient

It can be frustrating when your baby refuses a bottle, but it’s important to be patient. They will eventually start drinking from the bottle again. Just keep trying different things until you find what works.

8. Have a family member feed them

Sometimes babies don’t want to accept a bottle from their mom because they would prefer to nurse. If this is the case, try having a family member or friend offer the bottle instead.

9. Visit the doctor

If you are still having trouble getting your baby to take a bottle, make an appointment with their pediatrician. They can give you some tips and advice on what to do next.

10. Try a bottle that is similar to a breast

Try a bottle that is similar to a breast. There are bottles that have a wider bottle nipple and a shorter neck. These can be closer to the real thing and may make your baby more likely to accept it.

11. Change the feeding schedule

If your baby is refusing a bottle, you may need to change their feeding schedule. Some babies prefer to eat more often, while others would rather have fewer, bigger meals. Talk to your pediatrician about what would be best for your baby.

12. Put a drop of milk on your baby’s mouth

You may be able to get them to eat by putting a drop of milk on your baby’s mouth. They will eventually start to lick their lips and they will become interested.

13. Slow down the transition to the bottle

If you are transitioning your baby to bottle feeding and your baby is refusing the bottle, you may need to slow down the transition. Try only using the bottle once a day or every other day. This will give them time to get used to it and they may be more likely to accept it.

Related: Best Goats Milk Formula for Breastfed Babies

When to see a doctor from baby suddenly refusing the bottle?

If your baby does not want to drink from the bottle, there are several signs that it is more than a simple refusal. If you notice any of the following symptoms, see your doctor right away:

  • Your baby is having difficulty putting on weight or losing weight
  • There are new emotional or behavioral issues
  • Your baby has a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • They are always crying, and you are unable to soothe them.
  • Your baby is having trouble breathing
  • They are grabbing at their ears, indicating an ear infection.

breastfed and formula fed baby suddenly refusing bottle

Related: Best Glass Bottles for Breastfed Babies

FAQ’s about bottle refusal

When do babies typically start refusing a bottle?

A baby refusing a bottle commonly happens around 2 months old. They are starting to learn how to simultaneously suck, swallow and breathe.

Now that sucking and breathing is no long involuntary, they are able to refuse it if they want.

How do you prevent your baby from refusing a bottle?

There are a few things you can do to prevent your baby from refusing the bottle:

Start early – If you know you will be away from your baby, start introducing them to a bottle around 6 weeks old or at 4 weeks if you will be going back to work at 6 weeks.

Make sure they are hungry – Don’t offer the bottle if they just ate or aren’t hungry. They are more likely to refuse it.

Be patient – It may take a few tries before your baby starts drinking from the bottle again. Keep trying different things until you find what works.

Let someone else try – If your baby is refusing to drink from the bottle, have someone else try. It may be that they are more comfortable with someone else.

Offer different types of bottles – If your baby is refusing a certain type of bottle, try a different one. There are many different types and styles available.

breastfed and formula fed baby suddenly refusing bottle

Related: 5 Ways to Clearly Label Bottles for Daycare

Can teething cause bottle refusal?

Yes. Teething can cause a baby to refuse the bottle because they are in pain. They may not want to eat because they are trying to soothe their gums.

If my baby is tired would it cause bottle refusal?

Your baby suddenly refusing a bottle can be from them being overtired. When they are tired, they may not be as interested in eating. They may also be fussier and cry more. If your baby is tired, try offering the bottle when they first wake up from a nap.

If they are over-hungry though, it could mean they just need help calming down before they are willing to eat. Try swaddling them and bouncing them.

Can bottle refusal be a phase?

It usually is a phase that will pass soon. However, if it is persistent, you should consult your pediatrician. There may be an underlying issue causing the bottle refusal.

What if my baby won’t take a pacifier either?

It is common for babies to refuse both the bottle and the pacifier. It may just be that they are not hungry or they are not in the mood to eat. If your baby is refusing both the bottle and the pacifier, try offering the bottle when they are first waking up from a nap or after they have been playing for a while and are tired.

Best Bottles for Babies

My favorite bottle is the comotomo bottles. They are great if you are transitioning your baby from breastfeeding to bottle feeding.

I have used them with my babies and they were easy for them to hold when they got older and they are easy to clean. They also have a very soft feel to feel like the real thing.

Related: Best Bottles for Babies Who Refuse the Bottle

Final thoughts

If your baby is suddenly refusing to drink from their bottle, don’t panic! There are a number of reasons why this could be happening and many solutions you can try until you find the one that works for your child. We’ve outlined some of the most common causes and tips on how to get your baby drinking from their bottle again. If the problem persists, however, be sure to consult your pediatrician for further help.

Be sure to read Pumping with Elastic Nipples and How to Pump without Nipple Pain