Our 5-month old son has recently become very fussy with his bottle - he will suck on it for a few seconds, sometimes a bit longer, but then try to push it out of his mouth or suck on his thumb. Sometimes, he even becomes extremely distressed by the presence of the bottle and will push away from it forcefully, well before he's done feeding the usual amount he'd have.

We have started him on Oat Cereal and Rice Cereal and he's been taking to it extremely well, he hasn't shown any particular lethargy or other symptoms of sickness, and while he may be teething, we're not sure if it's too early for that, or if there's any other signs we should look for.

While we're wondering about what this could all mean, my biggest concern is making sure he eats enough - how can I make sure my son is getting enough formula when he's fussy like this with his bottle?

  • I hope you'll check in with your child's doctor about this. Meanwhile, consider keeping track of both types of diaper changes per 24 hours for a few days. What comes in has to go out! So if something is coming out, that means something is going in. / Did the introduction of solids seem to coincide in time with the decrease in formula consumption? Feb 13, 2022 at 16:54
  • I think I might have asked you this in the past: did you try acetaminophen or ibuprofen (ruling out pain from, say, teething or earache)? Has he recently had an upper respiratory infection? Is his stool runny? (See how many possibilities there are?) If the answer to any of the aforementioned is yes, you should put in a call to his PCP. Feb 14, 2022 at 1:11
  • @aparente001 I can confirm that we have had multiple wet diapers throughout the day (which is what our doctor told us to keep an eye out for) so we are good there. And he had been using oat cereal and rice cereal for several days before this fussiness started, so I don't think that's the issue.
    – Zibbobz
    Feb 15, 2022 at 14:35
  • @Zibbobz Glad to hear plenty of wet diapers. And some #2 as well? / Some babies go on a nursing strike in certain circumstances. I wonder if there's a bottle strike as well? I hope you're mixing formula with the cereals. Maybe you could try a bit of yogurt as well if you're worried about the low protein content of the cereals. I don't know if unsweetened is better. Also you could try formula in a sippy cup. I've been told that sometimes works at that age. Does your doctor have a "phone hour," or could you talk to a nurse about this? Feb 17, 2022 at 13:17
  • @aparente001 Daily solid waste, yes. And it seems like after about 3-4 days of bottle fussiness, he's back to drinking down 5-7 oz a feeding, so it seems like it was just temporary. Maybe a small cold or some discomfort from the change in seasons.
    – Zibbobz
    Feb 17, 2022 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


...my biggest concern is making sure he eats enough - how can I make sure my son is getting enough formula when he's fussy like this with his bottle?

The concern isn't so much about formula as it is about calories and fluids. If he's eating well/good appetite, he's getting enough calories for the time being. If he's urinating normally, he's getting enough fluids. If he has diarrhea and isn't taking fluids, that's worrisome for dehydration or possible illness. A brief period of not eating/drinking normally is not uncommon, and it won't hurt the child nutritionally. If it's prolonged, that's another story.

According to your NHS, your son may indeed be teething, and the most common signs are chewing on their fist, which causes drooling and sometimes a rash from the drool causing irritation to the skin. If gently rubbing his gums helps when he fusses, it's likely teething. Look for redness or swelling where the first tooth might be irritating his gums (the first tooth for most babies is a lower central incisor, but some do start on top.) Also, something cool on his gums (e.g. a frozen teething ring, or a clean cloth that has been moistened and frozen if you don't have a teething ring) can be comforting.

Again, if this is a blip, don't worry about nutrition. If he has been feeding well until now, he has some reserves, especially if he's on the larger size.

Of course, because the majority of my work was in the ED (A&E in the UK), I tended to see a lot of kids this age with their first ear infection whose parents thought they were just teething. This was extremely common, and nothing to be embarrassed about. If he starts fussing more often, especially if he seems to be pulling on/rubbing his ear, and there's no evidence of teething, please keep this in mind.

  • He has been regularly making wet diapers (which is what the doctor told us to look for when we asked) and has only been fussy for a few weeks - and otherwise has been taking in formula if being a bit more fussy about it than in the past. Thank you for this advice.
    – Zibbobz
    Feb 15, 2022 at 14:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .