9 Reasons Why your baby won't breastfeed

9 Reasons Why your baby won't breastfeed

During the weeks after pregnancy, the baby may have difficulties in sucking milk from the breasts of the mother and may stop feeding altogether. This is called a nursing or breastfeeding strike, and can be a pretty traumatic experience for the mother. Understanding the reason for the baby’s unwillingness to feed is the key to solving it. Lets find out why your baby won't breastfeed.  

Here are some of the most common reasons why your baby won't breastfeed. 

1. Baby’s disability or illness:

Newborns with neurological or physical disabilities at birth may not be able to breastfeed. Also, medications used during labour- anaesthesia, epidural or pethidine may make the baby sleepy, tired, and unwilling to feed. Apart from that, he may have ear infections, teething pain, digestive issues, headaches or injuries from the delivery process, all of which will damage the breastfeeding process. Temporary illnesses can also play a part, like catching cold and stuffy nose. In such cases, either the illness/ injury is to be treated upon, or artificial breastfeeding will have to be arranged.

2. Inefficient latch:

Latch is the way in which the baby’s mouth attaches itself to the mother’s breast during breastfeeding. If the newborn isn’t attaching well, then his suck would prove to be ineffective and will not be able to remove the milk from the breast. As the baby stays hungry, he may refuse the breastfeed altogether. This is one of the reason why your baby won't breastfeed. To prevent these problems, the latch is to be properly done from the very beginning. When your baby is in the correct latch, she will take the entire nipple and a good part of the areola in her mouth. Also Read: 7 Awesome Ways Breast milk Changes as per the child's needs

3.Engorged breasts:

Sometimes the breasts may get very full or engorged if the baby starts sleeping long stretches at night. This is not something abnormal and is usually corrected within a few days as the body gets adjusted to the baby’s changing feeding pattern. But if this keeps on happening for a week or more, combined with the baby refusing to breastfeed, it may be wise to express the milk, which can relieve pain, maintain the milk supply and reduce risks of mastitis. The expressed milk can then be given to the baby.


Thrush is an overgrowth of Candida albicans, an organism found in human bodies. Thrush may result from overdose of antibiotics, corticosteroids, oestrogen-containing medications, etc. Thrush easily thrives in humid weather, and on diets high in sugar, milk and butter. Symptoms of thrush include a stinging, burning sensation in the breast that simply refuses to go away. It may start at the beginning, or after several weeks of painless breastfeeding. The nipples may feel scratchy and look pinkish. Often the baby also tends to develop thrush symptoms like white patches inside his mouth and rashes on his bottom. Usually, thrush is treated with an antifungal cream for the mother’s nipples, and an oral antifungal medication for the baby.

5. Repulsion:

One of the most common reasons for a newborn refusing to breastfeed is also an essentially stupid one. The baby may not like the taste or smell of a cream or perfumed product that the mother may have put on or near the breasts. The baby loves the natural smell of the mother, so mothers should ideally not use products that have strong scents during the breastfeeding cycles. Roll-on or stick deodorants are better in this case than sprays. Also Read: How to effectively treat swollen breasts in 10 simple ways

6.Hormonal changes:

Some babies refuse to feed during the mother’s menstrual period. Hormonal changes can affect breastmilk or dropping the supply slightly or changing the taste to saltier.

7. Not enough milk:

Some women’s breasts don’t develop normally and don’t produce a full milk supply. Mothers who had breast surgeries have trouble producing enough milk. Other possible causes include taking hormonal birth control and decongestants. It may also happen the mother may have a large supply of milk in the early weeks until the supply settles. The baby may get used to getting a lot of milk without doing much sucking, and can refuse to feed when that is no longer the case. Often for first-time moms and mothers with certain health conditions, it could take a few days for the breast milk to come in, following which the newborn will get frustrated, and refuse to feed. Stress also decreases milk supply. This can be solved by taking herbal supplements and medications to boost the milk supply. If after all these efforts, the milk still isn’t enough, the mother should breastfeed as much as possible and supplement the rest. Doctors also say that the mother should make sure before breastfeeding that the baby has an accurate latch and is in a perfect feeding position, so that the efficiency level of the feeding is maximised. Also Read: These 8 Indian Kitchen Foods Can Help Breastfeeding Moms

8. Change in feeding pattern:

A major change in routine, like travelling, a change of home, the mother returning to work, anything that creates an unusually long separation from the mother disrupts the feeding pattern of the baby and after that he may show unwillingness to feed. In such cases, the mother should offer the breast frequently, but never force the baby to breastfeed.

9. Distractions:

Often a newborn may simply get interested in distractions around. Hence, feeding the baby in a quiet, darkened room may help. Also, babies tend to get more distracted during the day, and it's better to feed at night. Some other common causes of babies not breastfeeding include an early unpleasant experience of nursing- such as being pushed into the breast, blood tests and other medical procedures while nursing, the baby being a fussy feeder, recent immunisation,and even unfavourable changes in weather. Also Read: 11 Superfoods You Should have while Breastfeeding Want to share your mommy experience with other moms through words or images? Become a part of the Moms United community. Click here and we will get in touch with you