A mom’s heartaches when the newborn baby is not drinking milk. Till at least 6 months or the age when babies fully develop a liking towards solid food, milk is the prime source of nutrition for babies. However, due to many reasons, babies tend to refuse milk leaving moms worry and wonder why their baby is not drinking milk.
Here we explain the reasons behind what could cause your baby not to drink milk. In the end, you will also see the tips on what to do when a baby not drinking milk.
How frequently should babies drink milk?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, newborns need to drink milk every 2 to 4 hours. This is the optimal gap between two breastfeeding sessions. Some babies tend to be sleeping beauties and can sleep as long as 5 hours at a stretch. For them, you need to follow some techniques to feed them to make sure that they are not finding too much gap between feedings.
Reasons why your baby not drinking milk
There are many reasons why babies refuse milk.
- Age: When they are born, the tummy size is less and babies need frequent feedings to boost their body’s growth. With age, their belly also grows to allow them to drink more. But after a certain age, they need more nutrition than just milk, here’s where they may start showing disliking towards milk.
- Ill-health: Baby not drinking milk is the first indication that your baby is not enjoying full health. There should be some health problem your baby is trying to indicate to you.
- Distractions: Babies need alone time with their mother for enjoying the bond and drinking milk peacefully. Loud noises and uncomfortable weather may make them show disliking towards milk.
- Pain: Babies develop pain due to many reasons – ear infection and stomach pain are two important among these. Thus, any pain will make them show distaste towards drinking milk.
- Position: New moms and dads do not get enough expertise in holding the baby while feeding. This could be another reason why babies refuse to drink milk.
- The flow of milk: Too much flow or too little flow can be a cause of concern why your baby is not drinking milk. Be it breastfeed or bottle-feed, make sure the flow is suited to the baby’s consumption rate. Too high flow can cause them to feel a lack of breath while a too low flow of milk might irritate them that they are not able to drink enough.
- Birth problems: Prematurely born babies will find it troublesome to latch and drink milk naturally. Reasons could be poorly developed throat and digestive system or any other based on the individual baby’s condition.
- Accumulation of gas: Babies will refuse to drink milk when they are having a tight stomach. This can be due to the accumulation of gas inside their little tummies. This gas might be kicking back into the throat preventing them from sleeping peacefully or drinking milk.
- Disliking towards bottles: Babies who are accustomed to mother’s breast find it tough to like the taste of bottle nipple. This can happen especially when you breastfeed your baby for longer than 6-8 months and then try introducing bottles.
- Oral aversion: Some babies do not like anything to enter their mouth. Such conditions will create an aversion towards latching and drinking milk.
- Discomfort: When a new person tries to feed the baby, they may sense the change in the body and don’t drink milk.
- Reasons related to mothers: Breastfeeding is a beautiful session that a mother and baby cherishes. If a baby refuses to drink your milk despite all the above reasons cleared, it means that there is some problem with you as a mother.
- Are you wearing a new fragrance or strong deodorants?
- Are you on any new medication?
- Are you too angry or too stressed out?
- Are you taking enough nutrition to develop the required milk for your baby?
- Are you giving enough personal touch with your newborn?
Thus, before worrying that your baby is not drinking milk, check all the possible reasons outlined above.
Tips to make your baby drink milk
- Check the time gap: Allow enough time for the baby to digest the milk. DO not try to feed too much or at too frequent intervals. Let your baby follow their body’s signals.
- Do not forget burping: After every feeding session, make sure your baby burps. This pushes the gas outside their tummies and gives them smooth digestion of milk creating a happy hungry tummy for the next feeding session.
- Check their toilet and peeing frequency: Babies who are breastfed should pass the toilet after every session. Some babies do not pass the toilet for a couple of days too. Check if your baby’s tummy is soft or hard by gently touching it. If the baby is not passing motion and is crying incessantly, it is the time you should visit the doctor as soon as possible.
- Monitor your diet habits: While breastfeeding, mothers should consume easy-to-digest foods. Junk, high fat, and outside foods can be hard on your baby’s tummy. Consume more boiled vegetables. Avoid raw foods. Eat fresh homemade foods and soups.
- Nipple bites: Commonly, baby bites sometimes while you are breastfeeding them. Gently put your little finger into the baby’s mouth and free your nipple. If you experience any nipple cracks, prefer using a drop of coconut oil instead of harsh jellies and chemical ointments. Before feeding your baby, wash the nipple with warm water and pat dry with a cloth.
- Check the temperature of bottle milk: Breast Milk is lukewarm. Thus, babies like to drink milk at that temperature if they are being bottle-fed. Test the formula milk for a temperature that is convenient for your baby.
- Check the baby’s feeding position: Make sure that the baby is comfortably positioned. Their head and throat should be up compared to their rest of the body while you are feeding them. Indian grandmothers and experienced moms suggest sitting cross-legged and taking the baby in both the hands for feeding. Their head should be on your arms for smooth digestion of milk.
- Try changing the formula: If the baby is bottle-fed, the flavor of the formula might be one reason why the baby is not drinking milk. Consult your pediatrician and request them to suggest another formula.
- Wake your baby up: This is for sleeping beauties who sleep for longer spans than usual. Try breastfeeding them in the sleep by arranging a pillow or some lift under their head. The best thing could be to tap them gently on the cheek or the feet and wake them up for their next feeding session.
- Do not overfeed: If the baby is in the age of weaning and solid food introduction, try not to overfeed them. Introduce weaning foods one after the other with enough days gap. Give their body the time to adjust to the new taste. Else, they may display that inconvenience in the form of aversion towards milk.
- Check the bottle nipple: Babies need soft feathery touch in everything. This applies to bottle nipples too. Invest in quality milk bottles that have a superior range of nipples that will put your baby at ease.
- Introduce bottle side by side gradually: As we discussed, babies who are too long fed on breastfeeding do not like bottles easily. If you need bottle feeding for your baby for sure, start the process a little earlier than 6 months. Try once a day slowly to introduce them to the feel of the bottle nipple.
- Give them massages: Traditional oil massages for babies ensure smooth circulation of blood and digestion. Give your baby massage with baby oil daily and a warm bath. This will smoothen their digestion and should reduce the problem of not drinking milk.
- Play with them: Develop a bond with your baby by playing with them. Gently round their hands and legs just enough to create smooth digestion. This will make them feel good and also they feel safe that the mother is in the reach and spending time with them.
- Do not force: If the baby refuses milk, do not try immediately. Check what went wrong. Or sometimes maybe they have not developed hunger. Give them enough time gap and meanwhile, try playing with them or put them on your shoulders and gently pat them. This will give enough personal touch and also eliminate any gas and discomfort.
Babies do not drink milk for various reasons – could be due to birth problems or just a change in the environment. Stay calm and identify the cause why the baby is not drinking milk and proceed accordingly. Seek doctor’s advice immediately if the situation continues for long.