When my baby was about three months old, she suddenly stopped being the voracious eater she'd once been. She'd either act completely disinterested in the bottle - or even offended by it - or continually turn her head away from the nipple once she'd started eating. Joking half-seriously that she acted like I was torturing her when I was just trying to nourish her, I found myself trying every trick in the book just to get her to consume about half of the recommended daily amount. In the process, I learned there are many reasons (and combinations of reasons) a bottle-fed baby might suddenly refuse to eat.
Pain or Discomfort
If your baby is starting to teethe, the act of sucking may put painful pressure on her aching gums. Similarly, if she has nasal congestion, it might be uncomfortable to try to breathe and suck at the same time. As a result of these (or other) painful circumstances, she might start eating and then stop when she realizes it's uncomfortable, or she might remember it's uncomfortable and refuse to start eating at all.
When my baby refuses the bottle, I've learned that oftentimes the culprit is a backed-up digestive system. Once she goes #2, she makes room to take more milk. In fact, when she was tiny, I used to joke that a dirty diaper made her forget I'd fed her at all that day. She acted starving!
I'd always been taught that the temperature of milk should feel neither hot nor cold on your wrist after you warm it. Well, as it turns out, that bottle temperature is not every baby's preference. My daughter has proven to prefer hers either room temperature or even a little on the chilly side. If it is too warm or too cold, she may refuse the bottle.
Somewhere along the way, I'd taken to holding my baby on my lap facing outward as I fed her. When my mom visited and cradled her toward her chest, the baby always seemed to eat well, if not better. I tried my mom's technique, and it made a huge difference in our bottle-feeding success. It could be a tiny adjustment in positioning that makes feeding a more or less enjoyable experience for your baby.
Sometimes my baby is just too tired to continue eating. This can be quite the conundrum when she is too hungry to sleep but too tired to eat, making a good case for the advice from experts such as Tracy Hogg (The "Baby Whisperer") that you separate meal time from naptime in your baby's routine. Sometimes, though it's not ideal, I have to let her doze off and gather enough energy to finish her bottle.
This could, of course, refer to human versus synthetic nipple, but it can also refer to the type of bottle nipple you're using. One of my friends has a cupboard full of different types of bottles because it took a long time to find a shape her fussy baby would take without complaint. Flow level can make a difference, too. If the flow is too slow or too fast, the baby will likely get frustrated with the bottle.
These are only six of the multitude of reasons your little one might decide he's not interested in eating on any given day. He might be distracted by the world around him, have tummy issues that need to be addressed, or simply be starting to stay full longer. The problem-solving process can be trying, but try to think outside the box and don't despair. The first empty bottle after the "bottle strike" will make your trouble well worth it!
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