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Experiencing Baby Bottle Refusal? Milk May Be The Issue

Nothing is more frustrating for a new mother and her child than baby bottle refusal. Babies are sensitive and often finicky, but they can’t yet communicate their preferences and discomforts to their parents. This often leaves new mothers anxious and exhausted as they struggle through a process of trial and error to identify the issue at the root of their baby’s bottle refusal.

If your breastfed baby is refusing formula milk, your baby is refusing frozen breast milk (click here to read more about storing breast milk) , or your formula-fed baby has suddenly started refusing their usual bottle, then the milk itself could be the problem. There are various issues with milk that can lead a baby to refuse a bottle, so here are some factors to consider, and some strategies you can use to make mealtimes a breeze for you and your little one.

A crying baby refusing the bottle
A baby refusing the bottle can be very frustrating and expensive!

Temperature Is Key

Babies are very sensitive and can pick up on the tiniest changes in temperature easily. When you’re preparing a bottle for your baby, it can be difficult to get the same exact temperature each time, as any number of factors can alter the temperature at the time of feeding. However, a bottle that is just a little bit hotter or colder than usual may be refused by a choosy infant. Luckily, this common cause of baby bottle refusal is also one of the easiest to fix. Investing in a baby bottle warmer is one simple way to make sure that the bottle is exactly the same temperature each time.

A Matter Of Taste

The world is so very new to our little ones. Babies are experiencing everything for the first time, and so their taste buds are very attuned to unfamiliar or different sensations. For a breastfed baby, switching to formula can be such an abrupt change of taste that it causes confusion or baby bottle refusal. To avoid bottle refusal when transitioning a breast-fed baby to formula, look for formulas that contain the same compounds as natural breast milk like milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), lactoferrin, and prebiotics.

Even babies that have been formula fed their whole lives can refuse bottles if they notice a change in the taste of the formula. If a choosy baby becomes accustomed to a formula that is mixed in a certain way, even the tiniest changes in proportions can lead to bottle refusal. Luckily, there are ways to avoid this. Make sure to use very exact measurements when mixing your formula, or consider purchasing an automatic formula mixture for perfect, identical proportions every time.

What To Do When Your Baby Refuses Frozen Breast Milk

Many breastfeeding mothers run out of milk before their baby has finished the nursing phase. To prepare for this event, mothers may strategically freeze and save breast milk so they can avoid switching to formula if their milk dries. But sometimes when the milk begins drying up, your baby won’t take the bottle even if you are using frozen breast milk. Why does this occur?

Usually, refusal of frozen breast milk is the result of chemical changes that take place while the milk is being frozen or thawed. Check your frozen milk to see if you notice a soapy smell or taste- this could likely be a reason for your baby’s bottle refusal. A soapy taste stems from an overproduction of lipase, an enzyme that is present in all breast milk but becomes more pronounced, even overpowering, in milk that has been frozen and then thawed.

However, soapy milk is a problem that is easily solved with one easy trick. The secret? You need to scald your freshly expressed milk. As soon as possible after your milk is expressed, heat it to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This should look like the very beginnings of a boil, with tiny bubbles around the edges; keep an eye on the milk to make sure that it does not reach a full boil. Then, immediately cool the milk and store it for future use. When expressed milk is scalded using this process, the lipase is deactivated guaranteeing that the milk will not become soapy and unpleasant when thawed for mealtimes.

Breast milk stored in bags and ready to use
Frozen breast milk can be very useful during your breastfeeding journey

It’s Not All About The Milk

If you’ve tried all the above strategies and your baby still is refusing the bottle, you may need to consider that milk is not the issue. It’s important to remember that there are many diverse factors that can lead to bottle refusal, many of which have nothing to do with the milk. For instance, one of the most common causes of bottle refusal is nipple confusion; nipple confusion is caused when a baby is used to their mother’s natural breast and so refuses to latch onto the nipple of a baby bottle. Hard, narrow baby bottle nipples often cause nipple confusion or discomfort for nursing infants.

If you suspect that bottle shape is the cause of nipple confusion, make sure to look for baby bottle nipples with soft, wide nipples that mimic a natural breast. When searching for a natural, breast-like bottle nipple, you can’t get closer than The Teatle. The Teatle’s groundbreaking design forms to your baby’s mouth as they nurse, just like a mother’s breast would, so infants can latch comfortably with no confusion. Paired with well-balanced milk at just the right temperature, the right baby bottle nipple will ease nipple confusion and create more relaxed, nourishing nursing sessions for you and your baby.

The Teatle baby bottle with mother and baby in the background
The Teatle is the ideal bottle for breastfed babies!

LInk to the explanatory video

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