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My 4 months old daughter suddenly refuse bottle. She has always been bottle fed with expressed milk.

Two weeks ago she was very easy going - if she is hungry she would open her mouth when the bottle approach then suck it. When she is not hungry she will simply not open her mouth, or use her tongue to push it out. Her schedule was also quite predictable - she was fed every 2-3 hours and she slept overnight easily.

Now it was a battle to have her eat. We usually feed her only when she shows hunger cue. She would drink about 60ml (2 oz), then start pushing the bottle away and turning her head around. In the past she can drink about 90-120 ml per session.

When she start pushing the bottle away, we will simply either lay her down on bed, or to play/read/sing to her for 10-15 minutes then try again. She is usually ok with it during the day. However she is not easy-going when she is tired:

  • she will push away bottle after drinking just a little bit
  • she will cry when being put on bed
  • try to entertain her (gently) - she will stay calm for a little bit then start crying again
  • cuddling may or may not work, usually the mom would have a better result but she will fuss eventually

So the feed before sleep is basically:

  1. feed 10 ml
  2. start crying and pushing bottle away
  3. put her down/cuddle her for a few minutes
  4. cry again
  5. back to #1, repeat a few cycle before finally drink about 90 ml

She is still sleeping overnight, but she now requires another feed at around midnight and she also wakes up a bit earlier. Fortunately she usually doesn't struggle in those feeds because she isn't fully awake.

Other then the feeding, she is mostly cheerful during the day and poo normally. She seems to have normal development - coo a lot, starting to like toy and can turn herself one way. Doctor just checked her and she is healthy except she has eczema which is being treated now. Despite all the struggle at feeding she is still eating about the same amount - just that it is being broken down into many small feeding sessions.

We have tried several things, such as - switching the feeding environment (doesn't work - same behavior) - not giving eye contact (work a bit during the day) - speak gently during feed (doesn't work) - feed in dark (doesn't work) - wait 15 minutes then try again (works if she is not tired)

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    Have you tried waiting longer between feedings? Also, can she sleep through the night without sleep aids? (Meaning can you lie her down awake and she goes to sleep?) – MAA Jan 5 '18 at 1:59
  • Well she will complain if we wait too long - it is just instead of drinking 120 ml in a single feed, it is broken down into 60-30-30 over the course of 1-1.5 hours. She doesn't need sleep aid - she is usually put down awake and she would make some noises (not crying) or play a bit before sleeping herself. – elty123 Jan 5 '18 at 2:03
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    Could she be teething? – MAA Jan 5 '18 at 2:49
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    I was going to suggest teething as well. Could also be that she's learned that formula causes her to have gas/upset stomach. Babies are more observant than you might think. They're like little knowledge sponges. You might try another formula. – I wrestled a bear once. Jan 5 '18 at 17:55
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    I'd still bet on teething, but in that case you may also want to check for thrush. drinking anything can make a baby gassy, doen't matter if it's milk or formula. – I wrestled a bear once. Jan 5 '18 at 21:37
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Does she burp well after feeding? When she starts pushing the bottle away after only a couple of ounces, I would try getting her to burp, and then offer the bottle again. If you think she might be gassy but she's not burping, or she is burping but you think she may still be gassy, I would suggest giving her an infant gas medicine containing simethicone. You can ask your doctor or nurse if you're not sure. Teething is another strong possibility, especially given her age. You could try using a teething gel on her gums, or also something cold. Even giving the milk a little cooler than usual may help if teething is the issue. You might also want to try using a different nipple on the bottle.

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If the mother has changed diet recently, that could cause it. I've heard stories about mothers eating more things, like garlic, or avacado, etc... and babies refusing to nurse because they really don't care for the new taste. Other than that, I also think teething is a good possibility.

Maybe a small change in diet for the mother for a bit, and teething aids.

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