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Q. For a month, my 4-month-old baby refuses to breastfeed while active. What could be the issue?

Answered by
Dr. Manu Bharadwaj
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on Jul 02, 2020

I have a 4 month baby exclusively on breast feed. But from past more than a month, she refuses the breastfeeding when in active mood. Only drinks wen she is sleepy, (after a nap) not before the nap also.

After birth she has latched correctly without any issues for 3 months. In past few days, her refusing frequency has increased. Takes only if I feed with bottle or Bowl.

What could be the issue with her

Dr. Manu Bharadwaj

Paediatric Surgery Paediatrics


For normal babies, what we usually prescribe is - breast feeds ‘on demand.’ That is, feed the baby only when the baby cries with hunger or cries for milk. Do not attempt to feed by the clock.

Normally, babies of this age feed once every 2 hours, but, that does not mean you try feeding at 6-8-10-12 o’ clock. If baby is active and playful, it only means that he is content and not hungry. Don’t attempt feeding at that time. Wait till he asks for food. If it’s practically possible, avoid all other feeds for 2 more months. Exclusively breast feed for the first 6 months.

If the baby is not taking breast feeds, but is taking from bottle or bowl, the reasons could be -

  1. Breast milk is not adequate for the baby ( to confirm this, you always have to try bottle/bowl feeds ONLY AFTER giving breast feeds).
  2. Baby has got used to the sweet taste of formula or whatever milk you are giving, and now, breast milk is bland and tasteless.
  3. Feeding from a bottle or spoon is effortless, compared to active sucking of the breast, which means, baby need not do any work to be content with food. Believe me, babies get used to this very quickly.

Second thing - is the weight you have mentioned correct? If it’s correct, then the baby should be quite robust and healthy. It only means, he’s refusing feeds for the right reasons. So there’s no need for you to get worried.

If you wish to follow up, please let me know the birth weight of the baby, height and head circumference.

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