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Newborn and Infant Care

Baby refuses to feed when awake



I have a 2 month old baby who refuses to feed when he is awake. He gets a little expressed breast milk but is mostly on milk based formula. He gets hungry and asks for food. But he starts crying as soon as we offer him the bottle and refuses to feed. He has a lot of gas and often tries to strain and pass gas while feeding. He usually has 1 bowel movement a day, sometimes he skips a day. We have to get him to sleep and then feed him while he is asleep. As a result each feeding takes a long time and we are almost always feeding him of putting him to sleep to get him to feed. With a lot of trouble we manage to get him to take his daily intake, so his weight gain and other development is good. His pediatrician thinks he is doing great. On my insistance he refered us to a pediatric gastroenterologist. But he too did not think there was any problem.

Meanwhile, we continue to struggle with his feedings. We have to send him to daycare soon when I get back to work and I am worried what will happen then since I cannot expect the care providers in the daycare to spend as much time and effort on his feedings.

Any advise on what we can try? I saw a posting on this website from another person from 2005 where the same symptoms were described. But since the postings are anonymous I cannot contact her/him and ask what they did. Any advise you can provide will be very helpful.

Thank you!


First, I want to commend you for giving your son breast milk. I’m not sure why it is expressed, but have you tried to put your son to the breast and breast feed him? If you are unable to do that have you tried a different artificial milk (formula) for infant feeding? (Be sure to discuss this with his health care provider.) Perhaps what you are feeding him is causing the gas. Also, there is a wide variety of bottles and nipples for infant feeding. You might try different types of these in different combinations. When trying new feedings or equipment, it is important to do one change for a few days to see if there are any improvements. If you are trying several new things at the same time, you will be unsure of what is working.

I would also suggest that you keep a log of feeding times (how long the feeding took as well as the time you started) what you fed, the amount taken and the equipment used. Also write how you felt the feeding went, and if the baby is awake or asleep when you started the feeding and at the end of the feeding. Then at the end of a couple of days or week, you can look for trends.

Having a fussy baby and one that is difficult to feed is a very challenging. I want to commend you for working hard to make things better for you and your son.

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati