Formula Feeding Guide 2022: 8 Common Struggles Parents Face With Newborns

When we think of feeding a baby, we picture the baby in our arms, looking up at us and finishing up a bottle peacefully. In reality, the scenario can be quite the opposite, in fact, formula-feeding a baby comes with its fair share of struggles for parents, to be honest.  

Oftentimes, they’d refuse bottles, and unknowingly be unsettled even when you are offering them a top-up to soothe them. You know they’re hungry, but the fussing, non-stop crying, fight off the bottle continues to be a part of your daily feeding schedule. 

In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common reasons a baby might refuse formula bottles and provide you with solutions. 

Why Do Babies Refuse Formula? 

This question, unfortunately, does not have a straight answer. When babies have problems drinking formula from a bottle, it’s not necessary that the problem is related to oral motor functionality or other health issues. 

One of the most common reasons babies refuse to take is because they were not exposed to one during their newborn stage. Waiting it out to introduce formulas at a later stage is primarily the reason why most babies refuse them. Moreover, breastfed babies find it difficult to get used to the taste of formulas.  

However, there are other possibilities too, but we’ll get to that in a bit.  

Common Formula Feeding Challenges 

Did you know that a baby refusing formula is linked with their behavioral patterns? If you closely observe, you could perhaps identify, determine and eliminate the root cause behind this struggle. 

Below are formula-feeding challenges and solutions. 

  • Mistaking Hunger 

The most common problem with formula feeding is that new moms mistake hunger for thirst. There are many reasons why babies may bite on their thumbs or other objects besides hunger.  

Many moms mistake their infant’s sucking behavior, which could be a reaction to stress or boredom. The baby may refuse to eat if you try to feed him since you’re mistaking his cues for hunger.  

The simple solution is not to force-feed a baby. If a baby t eat shows signs of refusal; instead, consider that you may have misunderstood and wait for more definitive signs of hunger. The best rule is to try again later.  

  • Miscalculating Feeding Portions 

The second most common formula feeding mistake is giving too little or too much formula. The amount of breast milk or formula a baby needs daily can be challenging to estimate, so parents often neglect finding out what’s the portion requirement according to their baby’s age.  

But they make the common mistake of not considering the baby’s actual growth when estimating their needs. If he’s full he will refuse to eat no matter what. 

Feeding instructions are only estimates and vary by an infant. Babies vary greatly in their appetite. For your concerns, you should talk to your baby’s doctor for guidance.  

As for you, wait until the baby shows more obvious signs of hunger. 

And if you want to know about formula estimates or any other information about formula feeding, you can check out; they bring you the most up-to-date and accurate tips to help you feed your baby properly. 

  • Sleepy Baby 

A sleepy baby may refuse to take the bottle. Tiredness is a common symptom of sleep deprivation in infants, and while it’s true that a hungry baby may sleep less, the opposite also applies. When it’s time to eat, he’ll give you cues such as crying, or waking up in his sleep multiple times.  

If you need help figuring out what time to put your baby to bed and when to feed, follow a strict routine so that sleeping and eating times don’t overlap. Ensure your baby receives enough rest and try to feed him just before he feels sleepy. Also, try to avoid feeding your baby in their sleep. It can cause indigestion, disrupted sleeping patterns, and much more. 

  • Distracted Baby 

Babies as young as four months have this natural interest in observing their surroundings. Once a baby reaches the age of four months, his natural curiosity encourages him to become more engaged with his surroundings. The baby becomes distracted during feeds by the sounds of other things happening around him. 

If you notice that your baby is becoming distracted, switch off background noises. Find a place free of noise and talk with your baby instead to soothe him, and drink his bottle peacefully. This one’s a great practice and helps when you offer them solids too. 

  • Protein or Milk Allergies 

Some babies are prone to certain allergies, such as protein or cow milk. So, they struggle with digesting it. The common symptoms of such allergies are swelling up, diarrhea, rashes, vomiting, and unsettling behavior. They could also just dislike the taste of that particular formula. So, it all comes down to a trial and error process that parents often have to go through. Here’s more information on choosing the right formula for your baby for the first time.  

Speak to your baby’s doctor to identify what’s causing him to refuse formulas. Run through allergy tests to find out if it’s a medical condition. Being well-informed about their dietary requirements is key for their healthy development, both physical and cognitive.  

A feeding aversion is a complex problem with no straightforward solutions. If nothing else works, the only thing left is to talk to experts and try to find out why this dislike exists. 

  • Bottle Screwed Too Tightly 

For the milk to flow easily, the bottle used for formula feeds needs to have the right pressure, not too loose not too tight. When the baby drinks from the bottle, the milk goes out, it is common for air to get in the bottle which hampers the flow of the milk when the baby sucks it. 

If the milk bottle can’t let the air out, the negative pressure will build up, making it harder and harder for the baby to drink. 

Many babies will ultimately give up or fall asleep from tiredness. Some bottles only allow air through the space between the bottle’s rim and the nipple ring; thus, if the nipple is screwed on too tightly, the bottle won’t be able to vent the air out properly.  

When preparing formula for the baby, check if the bottle is tightly screwed or not. It’s important that you opt for air-tight bottles that stop the air to get in.  

  • A Stuffy Nose 

Sometimes, when your baby has a cold, the mucus makes it difficult for them to suck and breathe at the same time.  

Use a humidifier, saline drops, and a suction bulb to clear out mucus. And, follow this religiously before every feed. Plus, a sick baby may refuse to eat or drink anything, so help them clear their airways first.  

  • Colic or Gas Problems 

When babies are gassy, it’s not usually a sign of sickness. But when air gets stuck in the baby’s belly, it can be uncomfortable and even painful, which is also referred to as colic. Gas usually clears up on its own, but parents may want to find the source to prevent it. 

While feeding, hold your baby in a way so the baby can be comfortable. And burp your baby after feeding them every time; this helps them to digest formulas better. 

What to Do If You Still Have Problems With Formula? 

If you’ve already tried everything else and nothing has helped, you can try these too. 

Calm Environment 

Human babies are genius and can pick up on their parents’ stress levels. The environment around them should be calm, warm, comfortable, and has the right room lighting and temperature. 

Babies are generally more responsive to formula feeding if their mothers are relaxed and peaceful. So, you might want to consider that too. 

Let The Baby Get Hungry 

A baby that isn’t hungry will cry if you try to feed them. Let the baby get hungry before you offer them their next feed. 

Let Someone Else Help Too 

If your baby has difficulty adjusting to bottle feeding, it’s best to have someone else do it for a few days. Let the father or another family member help you feed the baby. Sometimes, it could be the way you are holding them, or just the fact that you are just a tired mom. Put the guilt away, and get some help to get through your difficult days. 

Positioning For Formula Feeding 

The baby may refuse to take the bottle if he is not in a position of comfort. You should hold the baby with their heads straight from their bodies. Your arms should be around the baby, and he should have a place to rest his feet.  

The most common problems with bottle-feeding have easy fixes, but it’s still frustrating when babies refuse to take a bottle. If all else fails, seeing a doctor is vital. 

Final Words 

There are times when babies have trouble drinking formula from bottles, and in most cases, it is temporary. Try to identify and observe their behavior. At the same time, follow a healthy routine of sleeping, feeding, and playing times. 

 Feeding problems are common, but you can fix them by tweaking them a little bit, given that you have identified the root cause of it. The sooner parents handle it, the better. And in the meantime, parents need to be patient to figure out what works best for them and their baby! 


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