Don’t feel stressed if you suddenly notice your baby not drinking milk! Instead, try these 4 effective tricks to help your little one take more milk, whether from breast or bottle.
It’s the worry that plagues every mother: what to do when she notices her baby not drinking milk all of a sudden.
Whether breastfed or bottle-fed, you might have noticed that your baby has been drinking less milk than she used to. Sometimes it’s as much as half the amount she normally takes, even after a full 11-12 hours of sleep.
She might refuse and push the bottle away when you offer it, or squirm and wriggle during a nursing session. Any time you offer milk again, she starts crying and screaming. It’s been a few days, and the both of you are feeling stressed, dreading each feeding.
Baby teething isn’t the culprit, nor is she feeling sick with a fever. You haven’t offered any new formula, and she has enough wet diapers. What can you do to encourage your baby’s appetite for milk?
This article will show you how. Hopefully it’ll come in helpful as it did to fellow mom who wrote:
“Awesome article. Such a big help to me. My twins have decreased their formula intake gradually. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.” -Shweta
How to handle your baby not drinking milk
As you can see, you’re definitely not alone. At some point, all three of my kids refused drinking milk, whether with nursing or through a bottle. Despite having always had a healthy appetite for milk, they all entered a stage where they refused to drink it.
I tried offering milk in various ways, from nursing to a bottle, from sippy cup to a regular cup, but even with this switch, they refused them all. In fact, it seemed they preferred to play and do anything else but eat.
I knew this stage was normal and would pass. Still, it’s enough to stress even second- and third-time moms.
So, what do you do if you baby doesn’t want to drink milk? Below are simple but effective tricks that helped me get through this stage and get my babies drink milk again:
1. Feed your baby between longer intervals
One of the best decisions I made was to feed my babies after they woke up, not to feed them to sleep. This helped them learn to self soothe, but it also meant that their feeding times adjusted as they grew up.
You see, as your baby grows up, he’ll take fewer naps, which also means you’ll have fewer feeding sessions. In the beginning, he might’ve taken five naps a day and drank milk five times as well. But as the number of naps decrease, he’ll also have fewer times to feed.
If he isn’t drinking milk, see if you can stretch the times between feedings so he’s hungrier come the next one. He might need more time—and space in his tummy—between feedings to finish a whole bottle or nursing session.
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2. Check how much milk your baby should be getting
In your baby’s first few days and weeks, you were on a race to regain lost baby weight and make sure she’s gaining pounds and ounces from her birth weight. And it’s true—babies grow the most in their first few months.
But they also hit a stage where they don’t need to gain quite as much weight.
Their level of growth isn’t as fast as the newborn stage, and they’re also more interested in hitting other milestones. That’s why you’ll often find a baby would rather spend her time learning to crawl than eating. Eating solid food can also provide some of the calories she used to only get from drinking milk.
So, even though your baby is drinking less milk, she might be reaching a new stage where she doesn’t need as many calories from milk.
The best way to find out is to reach out to your pediatrician to learn more about your baby’s milk intake and how much milk she should be eating. You might be stressing about something that isn’t an issue after all.
3. Offer milk before solids (or offer it much later)
Introducing solids is one of my favorite stages. I actually liked blending purees and trying new combinations, and even created a printable to track which foods I introduced.
My babies were also as excited. They were so excited, in fact, that they preferred eating solids over milk. After all, milk was nothing new, whereas eating from a spoon offered a different flavor and experience.
So, I switched things up: I made sure to offer the milk before the solids.
This way, I knew they had the appetite to finish a nursing session or bottle before eating solids. I figured they would finish the solids, even after having drank the milk, whereas they might not drink as much after having eaten solids.
Another option is to offer the milk much later after your baby has eaten solids. It can be too much to drink milk and eat solids in one sitting. You might have better luck giving him milk an hour after eating solids when you know he has the appetite for it.
4. Add milk to your baby’s solid food
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Worried your baby isn’t getting enough calories and nutrients when she doesn’t drink breast milk or infant formula? Try mixing the milk with her solids.
Instead of using water to prepare her oatmeal or rice cereal, mix it with milk so she gets both solids and milk at the same time. This was the cereal I used with my babies.
You can also mix milk with fruits or vegetables “smoothies” you puree, especially if you were already going to water the texture down anyway.
Other moms have also made “momsicles,” or breast milk or formula frozen as an ice pop. Sucking on milk can be a creative way to draw a curious baby to consume her milk. Keep in mind that this can get messy, especially if your baby is new to holding and sucking on an ice pop.
It’s never easy when your baby takes an hour to drink milk, or pushes you or his bottle away when you try to feed him. We get frustrated because we know we’re not supposed to force our babies to drink, but at the same time, we’re stressed they’re not drinking enough.
But as you’ve seen, you’re not stuck. Try these simple tricks to help him start drinking milk regularly. Offer milk before solids so he’s more likely to finish it on an empty stomach (or offer it an hour later after solids).
Feed him between longer intervals, where he’ll have an appetite to finish the bottle or nursing session. Mix milk with purees and cereals to make sure he’s getting calories from milk as well.
And check with your pediatrician how many ounces or how long he should be nursing—it might turn out that you have nothing to worry about after all.
If I can offer one bonus tip, it’s this: relax.
It’s amazing how much our babies can pick up on our moods and reflect the stress we feel. The more stressed and frustrated you feel, the longer it can take to help your baby drink more milk.
When we have babies, it’s easy to overlook how long of a journey we have ahead of us, when every day there’s something to worry about. If anything, you’ll likely forget this stage down the line, or chuckle to yourself about how worked up you got about it.
And who knows—just when you let go, could be when your baby decides to drink his milk again.
Get more tips:
- When to Stop Burping Your Baby
- Baby Refuses to Eat Solids? Simple Hacks for Easier Mealtimes
- Weighing the Real Pros and Cons of Baby Led Weaning
- 5 Reasons Your Baby Wakes Up Crying Hysterically
- Want the Best Transition Sippy Cup? Start with These Options
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