Breastfeeding Benefits: Why Does My Baby Refuse to Feed

Breastfeeding: Why Does My Baby Refuse to Feed
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mavra Farrukh


Breastfeeding has been recognized as one of the most effective ways to provide a child with health and survival for decades. Several types of research showed that both mother and fetus could get health benefits if breastfeeding is done according to recommendations. In the past two decades, nearly two out of three infants have not been exclusively breastfed for the recommended timeline of at least six months. 

Is that a cause of the spike in breast cancer rates and stunted growth and development among the population?

This article aims to educate readers about the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding over formula milk, the particular circumstances for breastfeeding, and the best positions for breastfeeding.

What is breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is a miraculous process in which an infant latches onto her mother’s breast nipples, stimulating milk ejection, and the infant is fed. Infants need breast milk as their primary source of nutrition. It is secure, hygienic, and loaded with antibodies that help shield infants from many typical illnesses. 

During the first six months, an infant should be exclusively breastfed. Therefore, an infant’s whole-body nutrition depends on the mother’s milk during the 6 months before weaning. Breast milk exclusively provides all the energy and nutrients newborns need while providing up to half of their long-term nutritional needs.

It has been scientifically proven that breastfed children have a high IQ, are less overweight and obese later in life, and are also less likely to develop diabetes. Also, breastfeeding women have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer. 

There is a continued lack of progress in improving breastfeeding rates and durations worldwide due to inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes.

Why does a Newborn refuse to Breastfeed?

A newborn refuses to breastfeed in most cases. There are several reasons why your baby is doing so. Here is a list of major problems that are hindering your body’s ability to breastfeed: 

  • Latching Issue – It is the most popular issue that your baby may face due to an uncomfortable feeding position or poor lactating technique. Sometimes insufficient milk supply due to poor lactation methods irritates the baby he refuses to breastfeed.
  • Mouth Ulcer -Medication or constipation may cause a mouth ulcer in your baby. Newborns can suffer from mouth ulcers due to a variety of reasons. As a result of this trouble, newborns have difficulty sucking. Newborns can also suffer from other mouth infections.
  • Milk taste -Oftentimes, babies dislike the strange taste or smell when sucking. There is a possibility that a baby may feel uncomfortable if various scented lotions, soaps, or creams are applied to the body. Many times, eating ingredients with strong smells, such as onion or garlic, can adversely affect the taste of breast milk, which the newborns do not like resulting in breastfeeding rejection by infants.
  • Cold and Congestion – It can be challenging to get breastfed when the baby has a stuffy nose. Having a cold and congestion as a newborn is very common. Children who have stuffy noses have difficulty breathing properly, and often reject breastfeeding because of it.
  • Hungry Baby- Sometimes you may wonder why your baby is so bad-tempered because he is hungry and not getting enough milk. When a baby is in a good mood, breastfeeding is easy, but when it is irritated, breastfeeding can be difficult. Your newborn may be taking a long time to feed.

Breast milk vs. Formula Milk


When it comes to antibodies, breast milk is considered the richest source, but in formula milk, none of the antibodies found is present in breast milk. As a result, the formula cannot offer the same protection against infection and illness as breast milk.

Breast milk is composed according to the nature of the infant’s body, but infant formula can’t replicate the complexity of breast milk. Despite their best efforts, manufactured formulas can’t match breast milk’s complexity, which changes with each baby’s needs.

Are you struggling to breastfeed your young ones properly? Talk to our doctor today!


Breastfeeding is always available, unlimited, and served at the right temperature, while formula feeding requires planning and organization. In addition, clean, easily accessible, and ready-to-go supplies (such as bottles and nipples) are essential to keeping your baby happy and healthy. Parents who aren’t prepared and organized can easily get overwhelmed with 8–10 feedings a day.


Breast milk is a gift of nature that is purely free of cost, but on the other hand, it can be costly to purchase formula. It is least expensive to buy powdered formula, followed by concentrated formula, and most costly to purchase ready-to-feed formula. Soy and hypoallergenic formulas are usually more expensive than basic formulas—sometimes by a significant amount.

Cause gas and Constipation

Infants who are fed formula may experience more gas, and their bowel movements may be more firm, as a result of which they experience constipation.

Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Newborn

Breast milk is a complete nutrition source for infants. It provides your baby with almost all the necessary vitamins, proteins, and fats to grow. Furthermore, it is in a form that is easier to digest than infant formula. As a result of the antibodies in breast milk, your baby can fight off viruses and bacteria. Asthma and allergy risks are reduced in babies who are breastfed. In addition, babies who exclusively breastfeed without formula have the slightest chance of getting ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and diarrheal illnesses and experience fewer hospitalizations due to their strong immunity.

Several studies have linked breastfeeding to higher IQ scores in later childhood. Furthermore, your baby will feel secure and connected due to the physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact, and eye contact as breastfeeding builds a psychological connection between mother and fetus. Compared to overweight children, breastfed infants gain the right amount of weight as they grow. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Research shows it may also lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers.

Breastfeeding Benefits for the Mother

You can lose pregnancy weight faster by breastfeeding, which burns extra calories. After birth, it may reduce uterine bleeding by releasing oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its normal size after pregnancy. A mother’s health continues to benefit after 1 year and for up to 2 years. Breast and ovarian cancer risks are also lower than those of hypertension. In addition to lowering your risk of osteoporosis, it may also lower your blood pressure. It saves you time and money because you don’t have to buy and prepare formula milk, sterilize nipples, or warm bottles. Furthermore, it provides you with regular time to bond with your newborn.

Recommendations for Healthful Breast-Feeding

Breastfeeding is a magical process that benefits both mother and infant. Nutrient-enriched milk is healthful if fed by keeping in mind certain recommendations, including the number of feedings, feeding duration for one breast, and, most importantly, hygiene precautions every time you breastfeed your newborn.

Hygiene During the Lactation Period 

Taking care of your breast hygiene is important to protect your newborn from exposure to any bacteria.

Following are the tips that can help to maintain good hygiene during breastfeeding

  • Wear breast pads to avoid milk leakage, which can grow bacteria on the nipple and surrounding area.
  • Take lukewarm water and a clean piece of cloth. Clean your nipple and the surrounding area with a wet piece of cloth every time before feeding your young once.
  • Wet your finger with clean hot water and after feeding, clean the infant’s gums with the same finger.
  • It would be best to clean your newborn’s mouth with a wet cloth.
  • Take care of your hygiene, i.e., wear a clean bra daily as a lactating woman.

Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk

Breast milk that has been expressed and prepared according to recommended techniques can be kept safe and healthy for the baby if the storage and preparation techniques are followed.

Various temperatures can be used to store human milk. Human milk is safe to store for a long time, depending on various factors. Several factors may influence milk quality, including milk volume, room temperature, fluctuations in freezer and refrigerator temperatures, and cleanliness.

Before expressing or handling breast milk:

Ensure that your hands are well-washed with soap and water. You should use alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain 60 percent alcohol if soap and water cannot be found.

A manual or electric pump can be used by mothers to express breast milk. Pump kits and tubing should be cleaned if using a pump. Immediately dispose of the moldy tubing and replace it. Use a disinfectant wipe to clean the pump dials, the power switch, and the countertop if you use a shared pump.

Are you struggling to breastfeed your young ones properly? Talk to our doctor today!

Storing breast milk after expressing:

Storage of expressed breast milk should be done in clean, food-grade containers. It would be best to choose containers made from glass or plastic with tight-fitting lids.

The recycle symbol 7, which indicates that a container may contain BPA, should be avoided.

Ensure that breast milk isn’t stored in disposable bottles or plastic bags that aren’t meant to store breast milk.

According to the CDC, the following are the types of human milk that can be stored at different locations at different temperatures: 

     Freshly Expressed or Pumped

  • Can be stored up to 4 hours 77°F (25°C) or colder(room temperature)
  • Up to 4 hours at 40°F (4°C) in the refrigerator
  • Up to 6 months (recommended) and up to 12 months as per Freezer

0°F (-18°C) or colder 

    Thawed, Previously Frozen

  • 1–2 Hours at 77°F (25°C) or colder(room temperature)
  • Up to 1 Day 40°F (4°C)
  • It is NEVER advisable to refreeze human milk after it has been thawed.

  Leftover feeding

(the bottle was not finished by the baby)

  • The baby should be fed within two hours of the end of the feeding.

A comfortable breastfeeding position is key to complete nutrition during breastfeeding.

This is when you have to engage your infant comfortably so they can latch their nipples easily and get complete nutrition. In an uncomfortable position, an infant may keep the mother’s nipple inside their mouth but wouldn’t suck it to get milk. Such a kind of breastfeeding is categorized as “non-nutritional breastfeeding.” Despite the comfort of your infant, it is comfortable position mothers need too. 

The following are some good positions that may be convenient for mothers and their babies.

Clutch hold

The clutch position is a recommended breastfeeding position in which women hold the baby like a football. The clutch position reduces force and the reflex, which can cause frustration for some women, and helps babies latch deeper and more conveniently.

After abdominal surgery or childbirth, women can benefit from a clutch hold. A second baby can be nursed simultaneously while using this method as well.

When using the clutch hold, follow these steps:

  • If breastfeeding two babies simultaneously, place pillows on either side of your body. Support will be provided to the baby’s body by the pillow.
  • Keeping the baby’s head near the breast is the best way to hold them face up.
  • The baby’s head, neck, and back should be aligned with yours, and you should hold them with your hand and arm.
  • Tuck the legs and feet of the baby under your arm and cradle him close to your side.

Cradle hold

Breastfeeding is traditionally done in the cradle position. This position allows a baby to feed by placing its stomach against the mother.

The cradle hold is performed as follows:

  • Hold the baby against your body so that its stomach is against yours.
  • As the baby breastfeeds, support him with the arm on the side of the breast.
  • You should keep your child’s head straight to keep their neck from getting strained.
  • If you want to make this hold more comfortable, try using a nursing pillow or an armrest.
  • In the case of a newborn, some women may find it difficult to master this position. This position may become impossible to support as babies grow.

Reclining or lying back

A baby’s biological feeding reflexes are stimulated in this position, while the mother can feed comfortably and while being supported.

In addition to being very comfortable for women recovering from surgery or childbirth and dealing with muscle pain, the reclining position may also require some adjustments.

The following steps will help you understand this breastfeeding method:

  • Maintain a comfortable reclining position. Recliner chairs can be helpful.
  • You should position your baby so that the stomach is down and the head is at breast level.
  • Keep the baby’s neck straight and ensure that nothing is covering their nose.
  • Feel free to assist the baby as much as needed in finding the breast.

Sitting baby

Having reached an age where they can support their head, a baby can breastfeed while sitting. Taking care of your baby on the go is easy with this position. A baby who struggles when restrained might also prefer this position.

When feeding a baby in a sitting position, follow these steps:

  • Place your baby upright and support them to sit. A slightly bent arm can provide more support for younger babies. It may be beneficial for babies over three months to sit up fully with their legs wrapped around their abdomen on either side.
  • Once the baby can sit without assistance, support the baby’s back and neck.
  • Straighten and align the baby’s neck and back.
  • The baby’s nose should not be covered.

Cross-cradle hold

It is typically best for newborns to latch onto a cross-cradle. In this hold, the woman supports her nursing baby with the arm opposite her breast.

To breastfeed in the cross-cradle position, follow these steps:

  • Ensure that your baby’s back and neck are aligned as you hold them flush against your stomach.
  • You can position your arm across the baby’s back and support the baby’s head while the bottom of the baby sits in your crook.
  • When a baby struggles to latch, this position can be helpful.

Breastfeeding during medical conditions 

Mother feeding is crucial for the health and only restricted when it can harm the mother and infant’s health, or the mother’s milk production is insufficient to provide complete nutrition to the newborn.

  • Mother is infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II 
  • In the presence of illicit street drugs such as PCP (phencyclidine) or cocaine, the mother should not breastfeed (Exception: Those who are on methadone and who have not been infected with HIV or other illicit drugs are allowed to breastfeed).
  • Ebola virus disease has been suspected or confirmed in mothers.
  • It’s a rare genetic metabolic disorder called classic galactosemia external icon
  • The risk of HBV mother-to-child transmission through breastfeeding is negligible if infants born to HBV-positive mothers receive the HBIG/HBV vaccine at birth.
  • Influenza (Flu) suspected or confirmed mothers should take every precaution to prevent transmission of the virus to their offspring.
  • In the United States, HIV-infected mothers are recommended not to breastfeed their newborns in order to prevent HIV transmission.
  • Lyme disease patients can continue breastfeeding while undergoing treatment.
  • While receiving treatment compatible with breastfeeding, mothers who have an infection caused by MRSA can usually continue to breastfeed.

When to consult a Doctor 

You need to consult a doctor if your breast milk production is insufficient to fulfill your infant’s nutritional needs. In addition, in the case of any ongoing medical condition, it is important to get medical guidelines before feeding your newborn.

Your doctors online have a team of healthcare professionals that can counsel you about the best breastfeeding techniques and good practices that can make the lactation process comfortable for both mother and infant. Furthermore, our experts can advise you on proper dietary intake during lactation.

Are you struggling to breastfeed your young ones properly? Talk to our doctor today!

FAQs About Breastfeeding Answered By Your Doctors Online Team

Is breastfeeding an infant with a congenital disability safe?

Yes, if adequately supported. Breastfed infants may be fed through a bottle or other device, depending on the severity and type of congenital disability. Mothers with congenital disabilities will almost certainly require additional assistance in establishing and maintaining breastfeeding in their babies. Mothers who have infants with congenital disabilities will almost certainly require extra assistance in establishing and maintaining breastfeeding in their babies. These infants need to be closely monitored to ensure they gain enough weight. These infants need to be closely monitored to ensure they gain enough weight.

If a mother has silicone breast implants, can she breastfeed her infant?

Infants born to mothers with silicone breast implants have not been reported to have clinical problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated that there was insufficient evidence to support silicone implants being considered contraindications to breastfeeding regarding the possibility of drug transfer.

Is it possible to breastfeed after surgery on the breasts or nipples?

Most mothers who have undergone breast or nipple surgery can produce some milk, but not all can supply enough milk for their infants. Breastfeeding is not dependent on a milk supply exclusively because supplements can be used to support breastfeeding.

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