Breast refusal: Reasons your baby is resisting breastfeeding and what you can do about it!

Mother's milk is extremely important for a baby since that is supposed to be the only source of nutrition for the first six months of their life, as per the World Health Organisation guidelines.

Udita Madan

Breastfeeding is one of the most essential phases when it comes to nurturing your baby. Your baby's healthy growth and development is of utmost concern at that time and proper administration of mother's milk ensures that.

Mother's milk is extremely important for a baby since that is supposed to be the only source of nutrition for the first six months of their life, as per the World Health Organisation guidelines.


However, as smooth as it may sound, breastfeeding comes with its own set of difficulties, one of them being breast refusal.

Breast refusal is when the baby refuses or resists the mother's milk. This is a problem that isn't exactly unheard of, since newborns can have problems latching on and learning to breastfeed. Similarly, there are many babies who have been breastfeeding for long and suddenly stop.

This can be stressful and upsetting for the mothers and it's completely understandable, however, dealing with this requires immense patience.

There are several reasons why your baby could be resisting mother's milk, which you need to take into consideration while consulting your pediatrician.

To aid you in figuring this situation out, we have listed a few reasons below.

1. Poor or inefficient latch:

Latch is basically the way a baby's mouth attaches to the mother's breast when she's breastfeeding. If a baby is resisting breast milk, there are chances that the infant's suck is ineffective and they are unable to remove the milk from the breast. This leaves the baby hungry and eventually can make them frustrated, which in turn makes them refuse breastmilk altogether. To avoid a poor latch, it is important to get help with it from the beginning itself.

2. Premature baby:

If your baby was born prematurely, it may take some time to get started with the breastfeeding. Since preemies are really small, they need to stay in the hospital for a while before they can be introduced to something that normal babies do. Premature babies are also low on energy for breastfeeding, which means they might not be ready for breastfeeding just yet. However, in such a situation, you can administer pumped breast milk to them, until they are big enough to latch on.

3. Flat or inverted nipples:

This is not a problem for most babies, but for those few who are unaware, flat or inverted nipples can make it hard for the baby to latch on to. To change that, you can stimulate the nipples or use a breast pump before breastfeeding to draw them out, which will make it easier for the baby to latch on.

4. Delay in breast milk production:

If you are a first-time mother or a mother who have or are suffering from cretain health conditions, your ability to produce breast milk could be delayed. This can be frustrating for the mothers as well as the babies and when a baby is frustrated, it may refuse the breast. However, the key is to remain calm and put the baby to breast as frequently as possible and don't feel guilty if you have to supplement with formula during this time.


5. Birth injury or disability:

A child's comfort is very important for it to breastfeed properly. If your newborn has suffered or is suffering from pain due to an issue during the delivery process, it may not be able to get comfortable enough to breastfeed. Similarly, newborns with neurological or physical disabilities at birth may not be able to breastfeed, or they may refuse the breast. However, work together with your health care team once the injury or disability is diagnosed, to help your baby get started with the breastfeeding process.

However, there are certain things, as per, that you can do to make sure your baby gets breastfed properly.

What you can do if your baby isn't breastfeeding:

1. Make sure your newborn is latching on to your breast the right way.

2. Bring your baby to the doctor to check for any health problems.


3. Breastfeed your child in a quiet, dark area away from distractions.

4. Try to use different breastfeeding positions.

5. Offer the breast frequently but don't force your child to breastfeed. If breastfeeding becomes a negative experience for your baby, it may be harder to bring him or her back to the breast.

6. Even though it's hard, try not to worry. Stress can reduce your supply of breast milk.

7. If your baby will not breastfeed, hand express your breast milk or pump to maintain your milk supply.

8. Consult your doctor, a breastfeeding specialist, or a breastfeeding group in your local area for help and support.