Many parents are surprised when their baby doesn’t seem to like the formula they give them.
You’re getting towards the end of your maternity leave and trying to switch your baby from breastfeeding to formula, but now your baby refuses the bottle. Many new moms experience this- no doubt it can be a very stressful experience.
Many things can affect how a baby brings to their formula, including whether or not they were breastfed, what type of milk is used in the formula (cow’s milk vs. soy), how much liquid the baby drinks at each feeding, are any allergies present, etc.
It’s important to remember that babies each have different preferences, and it may take some trial and error before you find one your baby likes.
That said, here are some reasons why your child might be rejecting their formulas, so you can get back on track!
They don’t like Formula because they’re used to Breast Milk.
Breastfeeding is a much more intimate, comforting experience. Not only is your child used to the feel of a breast in their mouth, but they may also be used to the flavor, and the right temperature that only mommy provides.
Many mothers who start off exclusively breastfeeding for the first few months think that they may have missed their opportunity to teach their baby to take a bottle. But this is not true- you can introduce the baby to formula bottle feeding at any time.
As a tip to help smooth this process, you can try alternating between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding during the same sitting.
Start off with breastfeeding until one breast is depleted, then switch to the bottle. If the baby starts getting fussy, switch to the other breast. Repeat to help the baby become used to the different feelings of taking the formula bottle.
The Baby doesn’t like the Flavor of Formula
While some babies love almost any flavor, others are very picky when it comes to their food. If you find that your baby doesn’t seem to like the taste of formula or has vomited shortly after taking it, there may be something in the formula they’re not happy with.
Some babies don’t like the thick consistency of infant formulas, while others prefer the watery taste of soy to cow’s milk. Be sure to check the “Ingredients” on the packaging to see if there are any ingredients that your baby may be allergic to or sensitive to. You can check out our review of the two best formula brands here: Enfamil vs Similac
If you are still pumping, you can try mixing in some formula into your breast milk, to help ease the baby into accepting the new flavor of their formula.
The Baby does not like the Flow of their Bottle
If your baby is gagging and hacking after every attempt, it may be the speed at which you’re trying to feed them. Likewise, if it is too slow, they may let out frustrated cries because they are not able to drink enough.
The flow size of the nipple will need to be adjusted as they grow older so that they are able to drink milk at the right rate that they can handle.
It really can be as simple as changing from a #2 nipple to a #3 nipple – we fully recommend buying a bottle that includes a full set of all flow sizes so that you’ll have what you need as your baby grows.
You never want to make them feel like they are choking, or force the bottle into their mouth if it’s too full. This can create bigger problems with feeding anxiety, that you definitely want to avoid.
The Baby is Distracted during Feeding
Distractions during feeding can cause your baby to push away their bottle and start crying if they’re not used to being fed in different places or with other people around.
If you find yourself doing most of the work for them, try nursing them in private or feeding them with someone else (if your husband or partner is home, ask them to give it a try).
If you’re trying to feed them at night and they’re falling asleep on you, consider waking them up earlier so that they stay awake for the majority of their feeding.
The Baby is Refusing Formula because they are not Hungry enough
Babies can’t talk, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a reason to avoid their formula. Sometimes it’s just boredom that makes your baby turn away the bottle in favor of their pacifier.
On the other hand, if they’re not hungry enough to eat, there is no harm in letting them be. Wait for an hour or so, and trying to feed them again before their next nap time.
The Baby does not want Formula because they are not Feeling Well
Sometimes a baby may be cranky and crying due to not feeling well, rather than from hunger.
If your baby is showing signs of being congested, running a fever, having a stomach ache, or some other symptoms, you may want to hold off on introducing formula until they feel better.
The last thing you want to do is discover a potential food allergy on top of having a baby that is already feeling sick and fussy.
If you think your baby is experiencing an upset stomach, consider asking your baby’s doctor whether you can give them some Pedialyte.
Bottle Temperature Issues
By nature, breastmilk is served at body temperature, about 98.6°F. As a result, some babies prefer warm formula, although there is technically no medical reason to heat the formula at all.
If the formula is too warm, it may burn their mouth. Be sure to always test the milk temperature first, before giving the bottle to the baby. And thoroughly mix up the milk to ensure that the temperature is even.
We recommend the wrist test, where you put a drop of milk on the inside of your wrist, where the skin is very temperature sensitive. It is important to use the inside of the wrist because your hands and other areas of skin are typically tougher and more desensitized from your daily life and activities.
If it feels stings or feels too hot to you, then it is definitely too hot for your baby! Consider adding some more chilled formula and testing again until it feels just right.
Stomach Problems due to Allergy or Intolerance
If your baby is extremely cranky, gassy after every bottle, or pooping more often when on formula, it may be due to an allergy or intolerance.
Some babies may be lactose intolerant or sensitive to soy. If they are drinking a milk-based formula, try using hypoallergenic infant milk that is lactose-free and made for infants with more sensitive stomachs.
We always recommend talking to your baby’s doctor to see if any tests or advice can help determine exactly what’s causing them to act like this. If it’s not an allergy or intolerance, the doctor may recommend using a soy-based formula instead.
It may seem odd that a baby can be hungry but refuse their formula, but it is possible that the baby has developed feeding anxiety.
It is not uncommon for a baby to develop some level of feeding anxiety, especially if they have been having a hard time with allergies, gas, or feeling sick after eating. This can create a hard period of time for the parents, and it is quite draining on the baby.
Finding a formula that your baby likes and does not give any negative reactions (stomach ache, spit-up, gas) is key here. Once you find a formula that the baby can tolerate, we recommend alternating between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding in order to help the transition go more smoothly.
If you have been feeding your baby in a particular position, you can try switching things up to see if you can find a posture that will help them be more comfortable.
FAQs about Why Your Baby Seems to Hate their Formula
Q: How can I make my baby’s formula taste better?
Some babies just don’t like the flavor of their formula. While we recommend first trying to find a formula that your baby will tolerate, there are other options that you can try.
The first and best option is adding breast milk into the formula. There is no better way to help your baby feel like the formula is as good as what mommy provides. It is fully natural, and will provide exactly the nutrients that the baby needs without throwing anything out of balance nutritionally.
The alternative option, while less recommended, is to add some juice or another sweetened liquid to give it a sweeter taste.
Use this method with some caution: adding excessive sugars to your baby’s diet can have negative consequences, and getting them hooked on eating only sweet-tasting foods can be a recipe for a very picky eater as they grow older.
That said, if your baby likes fruit flavors, you can try mixing some pureed pears or apples into their formula to improve the taste.
Q: What do I do if my baby doesn’t want their bottle?
Do NOT force them to take the bottle. NEVER hold them down, or squeeze the bottle to flood the milk into their mouth.
If you force your baby to eat, they may get so stressed out that they refuse it even more. This can be a vicious cycle and is a direct route to feeding anxiety.
Wait until your baby is calm and ready to eat before trying again. The baby may not always be willing to eat when you are ready to feed them. If they are not hungry, leave them alone until they are ready.
Babies can be very finicky when it comes to switching to baby formula, and a baby refusing the bottle is an altogether common and frustrating experience as a parent.
As frustrating as it may be for both of you, remember that there’s always a reason behind their lack of interest in eating, and it’s up to you to figure it out so that they can get back on track.
Hopefully, using the tips and tricks above, you can figure out why your baby is refusing formula and help find the solution to get them back on track.
See also: Best Mini Fridge for Breast Milk Storage
We hope that you’ve learned something useful from this article, please let us know if you have any other tips and tricks that you wanted to see in this post!
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