Why Does Baby Refuse To Breastfeed? & How to Ensure Proper Feed

0 to 1 years

Created by Preeti
Updated on Jan 29, 2020

Why Does Baby Refuse To Breastfeed How to Ensure Proper Feed
Reviewed by Expert panel

A newborn baby refusing to breastfeed can be one of the most confusing and stressful situations a new mom faces after the delivery. There are several reasons why a newborn child may refuse to breastfeed. Rejecting breastfeed could happen at any time after birth or under specific health conditions of the child.

Breastfeed rejection is not limited to newborn babies, often older babies also reject breastfeeding. The reasons and the problems could often lie with the baby and sometimes with the mother.

Some of the most common reasons for the babies refusing to breastfeed are:

  • Poor Latching

  • Baby is not well

  • After vaccination

  • Distraction & Stress

  • Unfamiliar Smell from Mom

  • Nipple Confusion

  • Teething

  • Milk supply and flow

  • Introduction of solid foods to baby


Poor Latching


Poor latching or inefficient latching is one of the main reasons for refusing the breastfeed, when a baby is not latching properly she/he will not be able to suck the milk and as the time goes baby gets more hungrier, will also make the baby fussy. Overall if you don’t correct the latching issue, the baby will start refusing the breastfeed completely.

To ensure a proper latching, check that your nipple is inside your baby’s mouth and also the areola should be covered by the baby's mouth. You can even take your lactation expert’s help on this. by correcting your posture and helping you to understand the proper latching techniques.


When Baby Is Not Well?


Ear Infection, sore throat, normal to severe cold and cough too makes a baby refuse to breastfeed. Babies find it difficult to breathe while breastfeeding and hence refuse to breastfeed when unwell.


After Vaccination


Though many babies breastfeed after vaccination and soothe themself by indulging in breastfeeding sessions after any vaccination, some babies refuse to breastfeed after vaccination shots.


Distraction and Stress


Delay in the normal feeding schedule or a long hour of separation from a mother and overstimulation are also a reason where a baby tends to refuse to breastfeed.

Sometimes babies don't feed when the feeding places changes or there are too many distractions around, like music playing, bright lights etc in these situations, as a baby gets easily distracted from feeding.


Unusual Smell From Mother


This unusual smell from a mother could also make the baby refuse breastfeed and this can be due to any of the things like your perfume, soap or lotion. The new smell may make babies lose interest in breastfeeding.


Nipple Confusion


When babies are introduced to bottle-feeding or pacifier at a very early age, they tend to learn to suck differently on the bottle nipple, pacifier and mother’s breast nipple and as the flow of milk is different from both the bottle nipple and the breast nipple and babies cannot understand this and hence leading to nipple confusion.

This is also a reason among babies to refuse to breastfeed.




When babies are going through the teething phase, they face lots of discomfort and irritation to the mouth and gums. This discomfort may lead them to refuse to breastfeed for a few days.

Image: Why do babies often reject breastfeeding?


Milk Supply & Flow


Milk supply differs from mother to mother and is different for everyone. Some might have a very fast flow of milk supply some might have very low supply. When milk has a very fast flow and the baby sucks well but cases when supply is low, the baby finds difficulties in sucking from the breast and hence refusing the breastfeed.


Introduction To Solid


When solid foods are introduced at an early age, it is seen that older babies refuse to breastfeed as they get themselves full of solid food.


What To Do If Your Baby Is Not Breastfeeding?


1. Helping Baby Latch

Definitely, you can help your baby to latch properly and ensure that the baby is getting breast milk from the early days. Ensure the baby takes the entire areola in his/her mouth and you can support your breast with your hand. Feeding in the right posture is always key for proper latching. Check you are making a c-shape feeding posture with your baby and the baby is getting enough skin to skin contact while you are feeding.

2. Offering Breast Frequently

Long gaps in breastfeeding sessions make babies hungrier and fussy and they tend to refuse to breastfeed in this situation. Hence try feeding after a regular interval of 2 hours or on baby’s demand for feed.

3. Dealing With Flat and Inverted Nipples

In case you have a flat or inverted nipple, you can speak to your lactation expert and use a nipple shield.

4. Skin To Skin Contact With Baby

When a baby is placed on his or her mother’s abdomen, soon after birth, the baby can find the mother's breast and also can decide which breast to feed first. This is the closest contact a mother can provide and this has an immense effect on breastfeeding as a baby has an instinct to find mother’s breast and learn to latch and start feeding soon after the birth.


How to Improve Milk Supply?


Low milk supply is another big reason where mothers stop breastfeeding or babies do not feed as they need to suck harder with a lot of effort. But there is always something that can be done to handle the low milk supply at a very initial level of breastfeeding.

As milk production also depends on demand and supply ratio and hence the more you feed your baby more milk will be produced, be patient and stay calm to keep the breastfeeding on. Focus on a healthy and balanced diet to increase the milk supply.

Include cumin seed (jeera), carom seeds (ajwain), fennel seeds (Saunf) fenugreek seeds (methi), dried ginger (Saunth), garlic. Seeds like til (sesame seeds), pumpkin seeds, melon seeds also help in increasing the milk production.

You may also consult your lactation expert for galactose supplement to increase breast milk.


Signs That Shows That Baby Is Getting Enough Feed


This is the most common worry of every new mother, that is my baby getting enough milk? Is my baby well-fed? Do I produce enough milk for my baby?

The simplest answer to all these questions is regardless of the number of feed a baby takes, he/she should be able to give you 6-8 very wet cloth nappies in 24 hours.

Baby is well-nourished if he/she looks more alert, bright eyes, good skin colour, happy, active and also gaining weight every month.

I am sure this blog gives you an insight into several reasons why your little one may avoid nursing or breastfeed and how you can overcome the challenges. If you feel anything is missed out feel free to suggest in the comments below.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Jan 29, 2020

Excellent explanation.. good read

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| Jan 29, 2020

@good information on breastfeeding

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| Feb 02, 2020

I think babies never refuse breastfeed.. try again and again....

  • Reply | 2 Replies
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| Apr 23, 2020

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