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Baby Pushing Bottle Away but Still Hungry? Reasons & Solution

Baby Pushing Bottle Away but Still Hungry

Baby pushing the bottle? You’re not alone! Picture this: you offer the bottle, your little one excitedly reaches for it, and then bam! They push it away with a frustrated frown. Panic sets in – they’re hungry, you know it, but why this rejection?

As an expert pediatrician and mom of two, I am uncovering the reasons and solutions hiding behind this adorable (yet confusing!) behavior. Get ready for a journey into the fascinating world of feeding cues, tummy troubles, and sensory sensitivities, where we’ll equip you with the tools to turn bottle refusal into happy mealtimes for your little munchkin! So buckle up, parents, and let’s dive into the mystery of the Baby Pushing Bottle!

Reasons Why Babies Might Push the Bottle Away

The sight of your hungry baby pushing away the bottle can be a confusing and frustrating experience. It’s natural to wonder, “Why are they doing this?” and “Am I doing something wrong?” Before jumping to conclusions, let’s take a closer look at the various reasons why your little one might be rejecting the bottle, even when seemingly hungry.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests delaying the introduction of foods other than breast milk until your infant is roughly 6 months old, with exclusive nursing recommended before that. However, that is not always possible, and you may have to introduce the bottle at any time throughout the first year.

1. Discomfort and Pain:

  • Gas: Trapped gas bubbles can cause tummy aches and make feeding uncomfortable. Try burping your baby frequently during the feed to release the gas.
  • Teething: The cold nipple can irritate sensitive gums, especially during teething. Consider offering a chilled teething toy or a mesh feeder with cold fruit puree.
  • Ear infection: Swallowing can be painful with an ear infection. Watch for signs like ear pulling, fever, and fussiness, and consult your pediatrician if you suspect this.
  • Acid reflux: Acid reflux causes a burning sensation in the throat, making your baby hesitant to eat. Talk to your pediatrician about managing reflux symptoms.

2. Feeding Issues:

  • Nipple flow: The flow of milk might be too fast or too slow, causing them to gag or lose interest thus feeding babies  fight bottle but remain still hungry. Experiment with different nipple sizes and brands to find the perfect fit.
  • Bottle temperature: Some babies prefer their milk warm, while others like it cold. Adjust the temperature to see if that makes a difference.
  • Position: An uncomfortable feeding position can create tension and make it difficult for your baby to suck. Try different positions like upright or cradled in your arms.
  • Distractions: Too much noise or activity can easily distract your baby, making them lose focus on the bottle. Find a quiet and calm environment for feeding time.

3. Developmental Changes:

During growth spurts, babies get hungrier faster but also tire more quickly. They might eat a small amount and push away the bottle even though they’d like more later. As babies develop a stronger gag reflex, they might push away the bottle if overwhelmed by the flow of milk. Try slowing down the feeding or using a smaller nipple size.

4. Behavioral or Environmental Factors:

Some babies might push away the bottle to demonstrate their newfound independence and desire for control. Offer the bottle at different times and watch for hunger cues instead of forcing it.

Overstimulating a tired or fussy baby can make them reject the bottle. Try calming them down before offering the feed. Force-feeding or unpleasant feeding experiences can create an aversion to the bottle. Create a positive and relaxed feeding environment to re-associate it with good feelings.

5. Emotional or sensory factors

While hunger pangs seem like the obvious culprit behind a baby pushing away the bottle, a deeper dive reveals a fascinating world of emotional and sensory factors that can also play a crucial role. Understanding these hidden influences can be key to unlocking a positive and successful feeding experience for both you and your little one.

Emotional Echoes:

1. Separation Anxiety: The transition from the warm embrace of breastfeeding to the cold solitude of the bottle can trigger separation anxiety in some babies. Mimic the closeness of breastfeeding by holding them close while giving the bottle, offer skin-to-skin contact, and use soothing words and songs to build comfort.

2. Stress and Overwhelm: Bright lights, loud noises, or even a bustling household can overwhelm a delicate newborn, making them hesitant to feed. Dim the lights, create a calm environment, and offer the bottle in a quiet space to help them feel secure.

3. Negative Associations: Force-feeding or past unpleasant feeding experiences can leave an emotional scar, leading to bottle aversion. Be patient, avoid pressure, and focus on creating a positive and relaxed feeding environment to rebuild trust.

Sensory Symphony:

4. The Taste Sensation: Not all formulas are created equal! Some babies might be sensitive to the taste or smell of the formula. Experiment with different brands and types, or consider adding breast milk if you’re still producing it.

Nipple Nuances: Texture matters! Some babies prefer the softness of silicone, while others find solace in the naturalness of latex. Try different nipple materials and sizes to find the one that feels most comfortable for them.

5. Temperature Tango: Some babies are hot chocolate fans, while others prefer their milk on ice. Adjust the temperature slightly warmer or cooler to see if that makes a difference.

6. Tactile Tenderness: Some babies are cuddle monsters, while others have delicate boundaries. Experiment with different swaddling techniques and holding positions to find one that feels comforting and not overwhelming.

Unveiling the Mystery:

7. Observe and Decode: Watch your baby’s individual cues. Do they fuss before the bottle appears? Do their fists clench or their brows furrow? These subtle signals can point you towards the hidden reason behind their rejection.

Understanding Baby’s Feeding Cues

Understanding your baby’s feeding cues is essential for ensuring they get the nourishment they need and promoting a positive and stress-free feeding experience for both of you. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you decode your little one’s hunger signals:

1. Pre-Feeding Cues:

When your little one is ready for a meal, they’ll send you clear signals! Watch for them to become more alert and lively, eyes sparkling and searching. They might turn their head like a little radar towards your chest, rooting and searching for the familiar comfort of the nipple. Their own tiny hands might become their snacks, sucking on fingers or fists in a natural reflex that shows they’re ready to chow down. Keep an ear out for smacking lips or those adorable rooting noises, like little head nudges asking for food. If restlessness and fussiness start to kick in, it’s a late-stage signal that your hungry monster needs some refueling pronto! Remember, these early cues are your baby’s way of saying “Bring on the bottle!”

2. Active Feeding Cues:

Once the feeding frenzy starts, you’ll know your little one is enjoying the show! Wide open mouths offer a welcoming “come one in ” to the nipple, which they’ll latch onto like a pro, sucking away with a steady rhythm and satisfying gulps. Watch for those adorable signs of contentment and relaxed body language – they’re telling you their tummy is happy! But don’t push your luck! When your hungry hero starts pushing the bottle away, turning their head like a little food rejector, or clenching their fists like tiny bouncers, it’s time to call it a day. Closed mouths, excessive drooling, and lethargic snuggles are other clear signs their bellies are full and it’s time to switch gears. Remember, reading these fullness cues is key to avoiding cranky overstuffed monsters and keeping mealtimes a happy dance for both of you!

Important Notes:

Crying is a late-stage hunger cue. By the time your baby won’t stop- crying is one of the most challenging situations to handle for parents. they might be overstimulated and fussy, making feeding more challenging as it is their form of communication.

Every baby is different, and their hunger cues may vary. Pay attention to your baby’s individual patterns and what works best for them.

What To Do When Your Baby Pushes the Bottle Away

When your baby pushes away the bottle despite seemingly being hungry, it can be confusing and frustrating. But before you panic, remember that there are many reasons why your little one might reject the bottle, and most are easily addressed with patience and understanding. Here’s what you can do:

Before Feeding:

  • Observe hunger cues: Watch for signs like rooting, sucking on hands, smacking lips, becoming alert, or fussiness. Offering the bottle too early or too late can lead to rejection.
  • Check for discomfort: Gas, teething, ear infections, or acid reflux can cause pain and make feeding unpleasant. Burp your baby, try teething remedies, or consult your pediatrician if you suspect other issues.
  • Create a calm environment:  Loud noises, bright lights, or distractions can overwhelm your baby. Dim the lights, find a quiet space, and sing or talk softly to create a relaxing atmosphere.

During Feeding:

  • Experiment with the bottle: The nipple flow might be too fast or slow, the temperature might be uncomfortable, or the material might be irritating. Try different nipples, adjust the temperature, and consider switching bottle brands.
  • Adjust your position: Different positions can be more comfortable for your baby. Try upright, cradled in your arms, or lying on their back with their head elevated.
  • Take breaks: Offer the bottle in small increments and allow your baby to pause as needed. Burping frequently can also help prevent fussiness.
  • Stay calm and patient: Force-feeding or getting frustrated will only make things worse. Take a deep breath, offer the bottle again later, and remember that every baby is different.
  • Consult your pediatrician: If you’re concerned about your baby’s weight gain, feeding behavior, or suspect an underlying medical condition, seek professional advice. Consider offering breast milk: If you’re still producing milk, you could mix it with formula or offer it exclusively. Many babies find breast milk more comforting and familiar.
  • Don’t give up: Keep offering the bottle at regular intervals and pay attention to your baby’s cues. With patience and consistency, you’ll eventually find a feeding routine that works for both of you.

Remember, your baby’s rejection of the bottle isn’t a reflection of your parenting skills. It’s simply a communication, and by understanding the message behind it, you can create a positive and successful feeding experience for both of you.

Related: Baby Fights Bottle But Still Hungry? (The Most Common Reasons!)

Solutions to Baby Rejecting the Bottle

Baby Pushing Away the Bottle? No Worries! Let’s Fix It!

Your little one won’t take the bottle, even though you know they’re hungry? Don’t panic! It’s not the end of the world, and there are plenty of things you can try to turn feeding time into a happy moment again.

First, check for tummy troubles:

  1. Gassy? Burp your baby often during and after feedings. You can even try a different feeding position.
  2. Teething pain? Offer cool teething toys or a mesh feeder with cold fruit puree. Ask your doctor about teething medicine if needed.
  3. Ear infection? Watch for signs like ear pulling, fever, and fussiness. See your doctor right away if you suspect this.
  4. Acid reflux? Prop your baby up during and after feeds. Smaller, more frequent feeds can help too. Talk to your doctor for further advice.

Next, make feeding time a breeze:

Try different sizes, materials, and even the flow rate. Some babies like slow flow, others like it fast!

Warm or cold? Some babies prefer their milk warm, others like it cold. Experiment to find what they like best. Try different feeding positions until you find one that’s snug and cozy for both of you. Find a quiet place with minimal distractions. Soft lights, music, and gentle talk can work wonders.

Think outside the bottle:

During these times, babies get hungry faster but tire quicker. Offer small, frequent feeds and don’t force them to finish if they seem full.

Sensitive tummy? Try different formula brands. You can even add your breast milk if you’re still producing it. Missing Mom? If you recently switched from breastfeeding, hold your baby close while offering the bottle. Skin-to-skin contact and lullabies can help ease the transition.

Bonus tips:

  • Talk to your doctor: If you’re worried about your baby’s weight gain, feeding behavior, or suspect an underlying medical condition, their guidance is key.
  • Support groups and lactation consultants: These resources can offer valuable advice and encouragement. 
  • Have patience and love! Every baby is different, and finding the right solution takes time. Be patient, consistent, and keep offering the bottle at regular intervals, watching for their cues.

Remember, you’re not alone! With a little detective work, patience, and these tips, you can turn feeding time into a happy and successful experience for both of you. Now go out there and conquer that bottle challenge!


In conclusion, navigating the intricate world of a baby pushing the bottle away requires a holistic understanding of the myriad factors influencing their feeding behavior. From physical discomforts like gas and teething to developmental changes and emotional nuances, this article has provided a comprehensive guide for parents facing the challenge of bottle refusal. By deciphering feeding cues, addressing potential issues, and incorporating patience and love, caregivers can transform frustrating moments into enjoyable and stress-free mealtimes. The journey involves observation, experimentation, and creating a positive feeding environment. Remember, each baby is unique, and the solutions offered here aim to empower parents to decode the mystery of bottle rejection and foster a harmonious feeding relationship. So, with a blend of understanding, perseverance, and the provided tips, parents can confidently face the bottle challenge, ensuring both nourishment and joy for their little ones.


Q1: How can I tell if my baby is rejecting the bottle due to sensory issues?

Sensory issues, such as sensitivity to taste, texture, or temperature, can contribute to bottle rejection. Experiment with different formula brands, nipple materials, and bottle temperatures to find what suits your baby’s preferences. Pay attention to their reactions and adjust accordingly.

Q2:What should I do if my baby has a strong gag reflex and pushes the bottle away?

If your baby has a strong gag reflex, try slowing down the feeding pace or using a smaller nipple size. This can help prevent them from feeling overwhelmed by the flow of milk. Gradually introducing the bottle and allowing breaks during feeds can also be beneficial.

Q3: Can introducing solids affect my baby’s willingness to bottle-feed?

Yes, introducing solids can impact your baby’s feeding behavior. They may push the bottle away if they’re adjusting to new tastes and textures. Ensure you maintain a balanced feeding routine and pay attention to any changes in their preferences.

Q4: My baby used to take the bottle without issues, but now they’re refusing. Why might this happen?

Babies’ preferences and behaviors can change over time. It could be due to developmental changes, such as a growth spurt or an increased sensitivity to their surroundings. Experiment with different feeding positions, nipple sizes, and bottle types to see if their preferences have evolved.

Q5: What role does skin-to-skin contact play in helping with bottle rejection?

Skin-to-skin contact can help mimic the closeness of breastfeeding, reducing separation anxiety for some babies. Holding your baby close while offering the bottle, along with soothing words and songs, can create a comforting environment that may ease bottle rejection.

Q6: Is it normal for a baby to reject the bottle occasionally, or should I be concerned?

Occasional bottle rejection is normal and can be influenced by various factors. However, if you notice persistent issues, changes in weight gain, or if you’re concerned about your baby’s overall well-being, it’s advisable to consult with your pediatrician for personalized guidance.

Q7: How can I transition my baby from breast to bottle without bottle refusal?

Gradual transitions, maintaining familiarity with breastfeeding cues, and using breast milk in the bottle can ease the transition. Ensure a calm and positive environment, and experiment with different feeding positions to find what feels comfortable for your baby.

Read also:

1.  What To Do When Your Baby Won’t Stop Crying? (Reasons And Tips)

2. Why Is My Baby Playing With His/Her Bottle Instead Of Drinking

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