4 Effective Tricks to Handle Your Baby Not Drinking Milk

Dealing with a baby not drinking milk can be stressful for parents. Here are 4 proven tips to make feeding time easier and more successful for you and your little one.

Baby Not Drinking Milk

It’s the worry that plagues every parent: what to do when she notices her baby not drinking milk all of a sudden.

Maybe your baby goes on a bottle strike when you offer one, or squirms and wriggles during a nursing session. Teething isn’t the culprit, nor is she sick with a fever. It’s been a few days, and both of you are feeling stressed.

What can you do to encourage your baby’s appetite for milk again? This article will show you how. Hopefully, it’ll come in helpful as it did to this 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

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, your baby will take fewer naps the older he gets, which also means 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 decreases, 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

At some point, your baby will hit a stage when she won’t need to gain quite as much weight or consume as many calories from milk as she used to.

For one thing, her level of growth isn’t as fast as the newborn stage, especially since she grows the most in her first few months. She’s also more interested in hitting other milestones and would rather spend her time learning to crawl than eating. And lastly, eating solid food can provide some of the calories she used to only get 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 she should be eating. You might be stressing about something that isn’t an issue after all.

3. Offer milk before solids

Introducing solids was one of my favorite stages. I loved blending purees, trying new combinations, and tracking 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 the milk as much after having eaten the solids.

Expert tip

If drinking milk and eating solids at the same time is too much for your baby, try offering the milk much later after solids. You might have better luck giving him milk, say, an hour after eating solids when he has more of an 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 milk? 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 fruit or vegetable “smoothies” you puree, especially if you were already going to water the texture down anyway.

Another option is to make “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.

Conclusion

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. But as you’ve seen, you’re not stuck. Try these simple tricks to help him start drinking milk regularly. 

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30 Comments

  1. “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.”

    This is what I am going through now.Everyday in a great pressure of feeding baby, keep forcing him and he just keep crying to refuses, i felt so much pressure and really unhappy about that.

    But to me, my baby doesn’t like spoon feed while i can’t feed him the oatmeal or rice cereal, he just like to eat by himself, so i started BLW feeding method to feed him, actually he can eat well when holding the veggies by himself, but his drinking ounces keeping dropping, maybe its time for him to eat more solid food.

    thanks for sharing such skills and teaching me to RELAX, you really says well “When we have babies, it’s easy to overlook just 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 at how worked up you got about it.” i don’t want all my memories with baby is only feeding and pressure.

    Thank you so much.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      I’m glad the article helped you! And yes, we really do need to relax a lot of the time. And if there truly is an issue, the best place to go is to ask your pediatrician, because then they can see whether the baby is gaining enough weight, and sometimes that reassurance is worth the extra call and trip to the doctor. I know whenever I’m worried, and time hasn’t eased my thoughts, then I simply put them to rest and ask the doctor whether this is something I should even worry about or not. If I need to take action, then I feel better that I know I’m supposed to, and if I don’t, then I also feel better knowing I don’t have to worry 🙂

  2. Thank you for this article and your words of advice!

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      You’re welcome, Baizura!

      1. My baby is just 3momths old …. He does not take breast milk or formula easily… I hv to put lot of effort to make him drink… He gets irritated and screams louder when I tried to feed him… And it makes me really stressed…. Otherwise everything seems alright..

        1. Nina Garcia says:

          I’m sorry to hear that, Nadiya! Hopefully you’ll find a solution that works for you and your baby. It can be really stressful when they don’t eat as often or as much as we’d like.

  3. Thank you for your tips. Currently my 10 month old baby refuses his formula most of the time so I add it to his cereal for breakfast and lunch. He drinks 4 ounces of formula st 7am then has another 4 ounces in his cereal at 8am. Then I struggle to give him an ounce at 11am when he wakes up from his nap. He eats his lunch fine an hour later. Then after his second nap, I offer him 4 ounces of formula but I struggle just to get him to drink 2 ounces. At dinner, I add another 4 ounces of formula in his cereal. My question is, is it 9kay for a 10 month old baby to have 15 ounces of formula a day? I also give him water after his three meals and snack, but I also struggle giving him water that I only manage him to drink about 4 to 5 ounces of water a day. Do you think this is healthy and appropriate for a 10 months old baby?

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Fatimah! It’s definitely hard when our little ones don’t take their milk all of a sudden. What if you try giving him his formula an hour (or even half an hour) after he wakes up from his nap? I wonder if he’s just too groggy or not that hungry the moment he wakes up, but if he eats his food an hour after, he just might take the formula as well.

      Typically, older infants do start to decrease their milk intake, not only because they’re experimenting with solids, but also because their bodies aren’t growing as rapidly as they once were in the earlier months. Also, this is when they’re starting to get mobile and curious about their environment, so the idea of drinking milk isn’t as exciting as, say, practicing how to crawl.

      That said, I’d check with your pediatrician to see if he’s gaining enough weight, and let them know how many ounces he’s currently drinking. They’d be the best ones to let you know whether he’s taking in enough a day.

  4. Awesome article. Such a big help to me. My twins have decreased their formula intake gradually. I’ll definitely try mixing the formula in the cereal. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Much love

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Shweta! I’m so glad the article was helpful. Let me know how it goes! All the best, Nina

  5. Really relieved my stress.
    I was so worried that my 6 months baby isnt drinking well since past 2 days.
    Will surely try out your tips and update you.
    Thank u

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      You’re welcome!

  6. My baby just turned 5 months, since last month I’ve been struggling feeding him or even giving him formula milk. He always refuses it , everytime he’s sleepy that’s the only way I can feed him. after reading your article I realised I was doing wrong. I always force him to drink milk because I am getting stress if he’s not getting enough milk for the day, the usual thing I do before and now is nursing him anytime so he gets enough nutrients. but I was wrong, Thank you for your tips.! I will surely try it. would love to read more article from you. Keep safe ☺️ God bless you!

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      I’m so glad the article helped, Jane! And yes, keep checking back on the blog—I have plenty of articles to share 🙂

    2. My baby is 5 months aswell she refuses her bottle alot screams pushes it away she was having 6 ounces I’m lucky now if she takes 3 it’s such a battle to feed her
      Sometimes she can go 7 hours without a bottle and it really worrys me

  7. My son is 1 year 8 months but he less drinking milk then before during night time he wil refuse to drink when we offering milk ..sometimes he cry for milk but he wil drink only 1 0z milk n.sleeping while drinking.what should i do?im so worried..but day time n morning he will 3oz to 4 oz

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi there! Maybe you can try offering him milk only during the day so he doesn’t need to drink milk to fall asleep? It’s likely he’s crying not for the milk but for some other reason, which could explain why he hardly drinks anything.

  8. My son is 3 months and I noticed that he has reduced his in take. So I try to dream feed him just after a few minutes before his deep sleep and it works out.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      That’s so great to hear, Bwalya!

  9. Very nice tips.
    My 3 months old has reduced her milk. She is formula fed. She takes only 1 once or 2 twice or thrice during day. She was good taking it at night but its been a week she has also her night feedings.

  10. I have a five month old who is hitting their mile stones but has dropped from the 60 percentile to the 13. We have had a tongue tie procedure done and just get referred to a GI specialist. He only drinks an oz or two of breast milk at a time. Other nipples don’t seem to work and he’s not very interested in staying solids. Is this happening to anyone else?
    -scared new mom

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Chloe! I’ve heard that getting a tongue tie fixed can really help with feeding. I think you’re taking all the right steps by consulting with the pediatrician and the specialist. That sudden drop can seem scary, but the good news is that at least he’s still within the range, even if lower than usual. Hopefully it will get sorted out soon!

  11. Carina Celis says:

    “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.”

    This is exactly is my baby

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      I feel you, Carina <3 Hopefully your little one takes to drinking milk regularly.

  12. Katherine says:

    Hi Nina, I’m grateful to come across your post. My 6 month-old baby refuses to drink milk lately. Her intake now is almost half lesser than a month ago that made me worry so much. No matter how hungry she is or how long interval between feeds, she still prefers play to drink milk. I’m gonna let her start weaning soon but with little amount of solid food, I’m afraid she’s not getting enough nutrients.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Katherine! I would reach out to her pediatrician because sometimes they may not need as much as they grow older. Your pediatrician would be able to look at her weight gain and how much she eats and see whether she’s consuming enough or not. I would also give her plenty of opportunities to play during the day so that she gets it out of her system 🙂 For instance, instead of a stroll around the park, see if you can let her crawl around the grass in the park.

      Hang in there, mama <3

  13. Hi Nina, my 11 month old doesn’t want formula nor breast milk at all. I have tried different formulas, changing the bottle teats but nothing works. He is currently getting milk from his cereals only and that worries me alot.

    Been planning to visit his pediatrician for any advice. Being a mother is not easy.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Kopano, so sorry you’re going through these challenges. One thing that might help is to offer the milk in a sippy cup or even a regular cup. Maybe he’s outgrown bottles and would take it in a cup.

  14. My biggest struggle is that my 8.5 month old currently refuses to drink his milk. This is frustrating because I don’t know how to get him full enough during the daytime to sleep at night. If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      It can definitely be frustrating and worrisome when our babies don’t drink enough milk during the day. Talk to your pediatrician, because in many cases, they actually don’t take as much in the same rate as they used to, what with not growing as fast as they did in the early weeks and months. The poor sleep could also be due not so much to hunger but other issues, like not being able to sleep on their own.