baby refusing to breastfeed

Baby Refuses To Breastfeed – What Now?


A lot of mothers experience the pain of rejection from their babies. As a mother, you would want to feed your baby regularly and of course, your body is already producing the necessary amount of milk. Then why is your baby refusing to breastfeed?

There are several reasons why your baby would suddenly refuse to breastfeed. More often than not, it is your baby’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. A lot of parents seem to think that going on a breastfeeding strike means that your child is ready for weaning. Sometimes that is not true. If your baby continually refuses to breastfeed, chances are one of these 5 factors is the reason.

ALSO READ: 8 Essential Breastfeeding Tips For New Mothers

Low Milk Supply

One of the common causes behind why your baby is refusing to breastfeed is a low milk supply. There are several reasons why your milk supply is low including but not limited to the excessive supplemental use of a pacifier or formula. Health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes might also play a role in low milk supply.

Unusual Smell or Taste

Changes in your body’s scent or your breastmilk’s taste can also cause your baby to refuse to breastfeed. Whether you are using a new perfume or body wash, a change in body odor can cause your baby to reject breastfeeding. Factors that cause a change in taste include hormonal changes (periods or pregnancy), the food you eat, or any medication you might be on.


If your baby contracts the flu or a cold, this might affect their breastfeeding habits. They might find it far more difficult to feed with a stuffy nose. Moreover, the changes to taste experienced during an illness can also cause them to reject breastfeeding.

ALSO READ: 10 Tips for New Breastfeeding Mothers: Best Breastfeeding Advice You Can Get

Pain or Discomfort

Teething is a tricky phase to deal with. Your child will be far more fussy and irritable than usual and their sleeping and feeding routines will completely change. While teething is a major factor in a baby refusing to breastfeed, other sources of pain or discomfort include cold sores, ear infections that make lying in particular positions painful, or an injury. Be sure to exercise gentleness with your baby during this difficult time.

Distractions or Stress

Sometimes the reason why your baby won’t breastfeed is as simple as being distracted. If something else has your child’s attention, you might find it difficult to get them to feed. Make sure you are in a place that has little to no distractions such as loud noises, bright lights, or other children. Besides, try not to engage in behavior that could potentially stress your baby out. For instance, a sudden or angry reaction to being bitten is bound to stress your baby out.

Remember, a baby refusing to breastfeed is probably stressed, ill, distracted, uncomfortable, or adjusting to new stimuli (such as changes in smell and taste).

ALSO READ: Is a Feeding Pillow Really Necessary for Breastfeeding?

Now that you have identified why your baby is not feeding, what can you do to fix it? There are several approaches that you can try to solve the issue.

  • Cuddling: You need to increase skin-to-skin contact time with your little one. There are many ways you can achieve that. For the most part, taking a nice warm bath together seems to do the trick.
  • Deal with biting issues: It is not uncommon to lash out or react violently in response to being bitten. This kind of reaction often encourages a baby’s refusal to breastfeed. Make sure to gently slip your finger into your baby’s mouth to break off their hold if they start biting.
  • Switch positions: You can try changing breastfeeding positions if your baby is refusing to feed. Sometimes your baby might just be uncomfortable and changing your position helps them get right back to feeding.
  • Remove distractions: If you are sitting in a place where there are plenty of distractions or sources of noise, try moving to a quieter spot.
  • Keep trying: Most importantly, do not give up. A baby refusing to breastfeed is not a lost cause. Just keep trying.

ALSO READ: Frequency of Breastfeeding by Age

One of the most important things to remember is that you are not at fault. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with guilt. The frustration of rejection is not comfortable to deal with. In the meantime, to avoid engorgement and maintain your milk supply, you can try pumping. That way you can feed your baby through a feeder, bottle, or dropper at a later time.

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