Formula Fed Baby Suddenly Refusing Bottle (Tips To Overcome)

  • By: Sandra
  • Date: March 18, 2022
  • Time to read: 10 min.

It is not uncommon for formula-fed babies to suddenly reject their bottles, especially when they are nearing the age of one. This can be a major problem as it will affect your baby’s nutrition and hydration levels, or the baby suddenly refusing the bottle can be a sign of a simple little thing that needs tweaking.

If you have a breastfed baby who suddenly refusing the bottle then this is a different issue as breastfed babies might have different issues and requirements. In this article, we are just focusing on babies on formula milk who have started bottle refusal.

Don’t be concerned. First and foremost, understand that it is entirely normal and that a sudden bottle rejection is something that many mothers encounter with their infants. It does not necessarily imply that anything horrible is happening, and it certainly does not imply that there is nothing you can do about it.

Help! Why is my baby refusing to take a bottle?

There are a few potential reasons for this sudden behavior change. Let’s look into these and see if these are why, and what we can do to help get him back on the bottle!

Your Baby isn’t Hungry

One possibility is that your baby simply isn’t hungry. After all, babies go through phases where they are more or less interested in food. If it has only been a day or two since your baby last ate and they were previously eating well from the bottle, then it’s likely that he just isn’t hungry right now.

Some babies are more interested in playing and exploring than they are in eating, and will refuse a bottle if they are not feeling particularly hungry. In this case, all you can do is offer the bottle again at another time when your baby may be hungrier.

Your Baby is Teething

Another possibility is that your baby is teething. Teething can cause a lot of discomfort for babies, and it may make them less interested in eating. If your baby is drooling excessively or has swollen gums, then they may be teething.

If you think that your baby’s refusal to take a bottle may be due to teething, there are a few things you can do to help. First, make sure that your baby is taking plenty of fluids. You can give them cold water or cold formula juices to drink, or offer ice chips to gnaw on. If they are old enough, you can also give them teething rings or toys to chew on. Offer cold milk or milk at a different temperature and see if the baby then stops refusing the bottle.

If your baby is in a lot of pain from teething, you can give them a dose of children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help relieve the pain. However, it is important that you consult with your pediatrician before giving any medication to your baby.

Your Baby is Sick

It’s also possible that your baby may not be feeling well – perhaps they have a cold or are teething. If your baby is refusing to take bottles at all, not just during certain times of the day, it’s worth checking in with their doctor to rule out any health concerns.

There are a few things that you can do if your baby is sick and refusing to take bottles. First, make sure that they are drinking plenty of fluids. You can give them Pedialyte or water, or offer ice chips to suck on. If your baby is old enough, you can also give them soup or other soft foods to eat.

If your baby is refusing to take any kind of food or drink, the doctor may prescribe an oral rehydration solution (ORS) to help them regain their electrolytes.

Your Baby is Over Stimulated

It’s also possible that your baby is overstimulated and simply doesn’t want to eat or drink when they are in this state. Babies can get overwhelmed easily, and if they are feeling too much stimulation from their surroundings, they may not be interested in eating.

If you think that your baby is getting overstimulated, try to calm them down. Turn off the lights, put on some calming music, or take them for a walk outside. Once they have calmed down, try offering them a bottle again.

Your Baby is Developing a New Pattern

Lastly, it’s also possible that your baby is simply developing a new pattern and this isn’t anything to worry about. Babies go through lots of changes as they grow, and it’s normal for them to start refusing bottles at certain times or in certain situations. It may be that you need to drop one bottle-feed or that baby prefers the bottle at a different time.

If your baby is generally eating well and only refusing bottles occasionally, then there’s no need to worry. Just keep offering the bottle at different times and see if he eventually starts accepting it again. If he doesn’t, then you can try switching to formula from a cup.

Your Baby is Disoriented

If your baby is disoriented, weak, or has a fever, it’s possible that he may have developed a serious illness and should be seen by a doctor immediately. While most cases of refusal to take bottles are simply due to normal developmental changes or overstimulation, it’s important to rule out any health concerns.

Milk Tastes Different

Lastly, it’s also possible that your baby’s refusal to take a bottle is due to the taste of the milk. Formula or breast milk can sometimes taste different depending on what you have eaten, and this may make your baby less interested in drinking it.

If you think that the taste of the milk is causing your baby to refuse bottles, try changing the formula or checking it has not spoiled. If you have accidentally given your baby old formula, read our guide on what to do.

Or perhaps some leftover soap or milk residue in the bottles has caused the milk to sour. Have you tried a different bottle?

How much milk or formula should my baby take?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as babies will drink different amounts at different stages of their development. However, the general rule of thumb is that a baby should consume around 26 ounces of milk or formula per day. This can be spread out over multiple feeds throughout the day. You can use our feeding calculator to help you work out how much your baby is drinking.

If your baby is refusing to take bottles, don’t worry – it’s a common occurrence and there are a few things that you can do to help. We go through them below:

Find the reasons for the bottle Refusal

It could be just a simple case of a little tweak to the current routine which needs amending. Before you change everything, go through each cause and change one thing at a time until you find the reason.

Change the nipple flow of the bottle

If your baby is rejecting the bottle, it might help to change the nipple flow. Some babies prefer a slower flow, while others like a faster one. You can try different flows until you find one that your baby likes. Your baby might prefer a faster flow nipple when drinking milk and be frustrated by the slow milk.

Or your nipple could have worn out and your baby might still need a slow flow nipple, just a new one! Bottle nipples come different flows from slow flow, medium flow and faster flow. You need to ensure you baby is getting enough milk at the right pace for him. Bottle nipples can also wear out and may just need replacing rather than a different nipple flow.

Try a Different Type of Feeding Bottle

Some babies prefer certain types of bottles over others. If your baby is refusing to take the standard bottle, try using a different type such as a sippy cup or straw bottle.

Try a Different Formula Brand or Formula Type

Perhaps your baby refusing a bottle may be down to the type of formula. If this was a previously breastfed bottle try to get the one most like breastmilk and get a bottle that mimics breastfeeding actions when the baby starts refusing bottles.

Introduce Solid Foods

If your baby is older than six months, you can try introducing solid food to see if that makes them more interested in drinking from a bottle. Starting Solid foods can help to fill them up and make them less hungry, so they may be more likely to drink milk or formula.

Offer the Bottle at Different Times of the Day

Babies can be fussy about when they want to drink from a bottle. Some babies prefer it in the morning, others at night. Try offering the bottle at different times of the day until you find one that your baby likes. Get a feeding schedule going to see when you have fed, and keep note of when they are refusing a bottle or when they have taken more milk.

Switch to Formula From a Sippy Cup

If all else fails, you can try switching to formula from a cup instead of using a bottle. This may be more acceptable to your baby. Of course, this is only doable if your child is over a certain age and not good for when a younger baby suddenly refuses a bottle. They can still get as many calories from milk in a sippy cup!

Simplify Their Surroundings – Offer the Bottle in a Boring room

If your baby is getting overwhelmed and the baby suddenly starts refusing bottles, try to simplify their surroundings. Turn off the lights, and try offering the bottle in a boring room with no distractions. This may help your baby to focus on drinking and make it less overwhelming.

If none of these tips help and your baby continues to refuse bottles, talk to your pediatrician for more advice. Your baby’s health should always be your top priority, so don’t hesitate to seek professional

Check the Temperature of the Bottle

A sudden bottle refusal may be down to the temperate, is it too hot or cold? Has it warmed evenly throughout? Follow baby’s cues to see if he is hungry just not content with the bottle of milk you have.

Why you might want to introduce a bottle of water?

If you are ever in a situation where you want your baby to drink from a bottle but don’t have any milk or formula, you can try giving them a bottle of water. This can be helpful if you are going out and don’t want to bring along a lot of supplies, or if your baby is refusing to take bottles for some other reason. Just make sure that you don’t give your baby too much water, as it can cause them to become dehydrated.

If you are ever in a situation where you want your baby to drink from a bottle but don’t have any milk or formula, you can try giving them a bottle of water. This can be helpful if you are going out and don’t want to bring along a lot of supplies, or if your baby is refusing to take bottles for some other reason. Just make sure that you don’t give your baby too much water, as it can cause them to become dehydrated.

What not to do?

Refusal to take a bottle can be frustrating for both parents and baby, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. If your baby is generally eating well and only refusing bottles occasionally, then there’s no need to worry. Just keep offering the bottle at different times and see if he eventually starts accepting it again. If he doesn’t, then you can try switching to formula from a cup. However, if your baby is refusing bottles more often or not eating as well, then you should talk to your pediatrician for advice. They may need to be checked out for any health problems.

If all else fails and your baby continues to refuse bottles, try some of the tips listed above until you find one that works. Remember that your baby’s health should always be your top priority, so don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed.

When should I be worried?

Whatever the reason for your baby refusing bottles, don’t worry – it’s usually nothing serious and most babies will eventually go back to taking them without any problems. In the meantime, just make sure that they are drinking plenty of fluids and offer them alternative forms of nutrition like formula from a cup, or even water if necessary.

If your baby is refusing bottles more often or not eating as well, then you should talk to your pediatrician for advice. They may need to be checked out for any health problems if there is weight loss, if they are having difficulty breathing (which could be a sign of allergy to formula), if they are feeling sick other than teething pain.

For A Breastfed Baby on Pumped Breast Milk

If you have a breast fed baby suddenly refusing the bottle it could be down to a number of reasons. Perhaps the baby prefers a different bottle or the baby is getting confused with the different types of feeding in baby’s mouth.

If the breast fed baby is bottle refusing formula milk, is it used to being bottle fed? A breastfed baby refusing the bottle might have been getting all of its milk from the breast and is now refusing the artificial nipple. If this is the case, it can be hard to get them back onto the bottle. If you are not sure why not contact your lactation consultant for help getting your baby to take either solid food or a bottle.

A breastfed baby on pumped breast milk refusing bottles or bottle feeding could also be due to a number of things such as over-stimulation, teething, bottle nipple confusion, milk temperature.

If a baby refuses breastmilk consider has something gone astray in the freezing and thawing process? Was it left out too long and not refrigerated?

Take Away On Baby Suddenly Reusing Bottle

It could be that your baby has simply decided that they no longer want to take bottles. This is usually a phase that babies go through as they near their first birthday and start to become more independent.

Finally, it’s possible that your baby is simply over-stimulated and needs some down time. This tends to happen more often when babies are in the midst of major developmental changes, such as learning to walk or starting to talk. Take a deep breath, don’t panic, lets try all the simple things like formula brand, different flow, swithing the bottle horizontal before we panic when baby suddenly refusing bottle happens!