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What to do if your newborn child refuses to eat


Normally newborns have very good appetite. If your child turns away his/her head from your breast, suck your breast but you can’t hear his/her swallowing, or your baby start to cry then you know there is something wrong with your child. He/she doesn’t want to or cannot eat. Don’t let too long breaks between feedings to occur. You need to remember that your newborn shouldn’t have larger than 4 hours breaks between feedings. Normally you should feed your newborn child 8-12 times a day. On the other hand, it is normally fine to let your child to eat a little bit later if his/her previous meal was bigger than usual. It is also ok to wait with breastfeeding while your baby sleeps during the night.

Reasons which keep your newborn from eating normally can be different. For example,

Your child might not be hungry yet or distract with something. He/she may be too sleepy, and if you try to wake him/her up by rubbing chicks or arms you might make your baby want to sleep even more.

Your child can be sick, have some colic or gas.

If you are not breastfeeding but you feed your baby with formula instead, your child might refuse to eat in case it doesn’t suit him/her well or your infant has allergies to that.

Your newborn maybe has some constipation which causes him/her to cry a lot and distract from eating.

Your milk can be a little bit bitter.

Your infant’s teeth might start to come out. All kids are different some babies start having their first teeth very early about in the first couple month of life. Others might have late teeth which come out after child’s first year of life.

Your child might have buggers in the nose which can bother him/her and prevent from breathing properly. All babies have congestion especially in the first two months of life and normally you shouldn’t be too worried about them. However, you need to take it out with a nasal bulb in order to relief your child from that.

Sometimes child cry so much that he/she might not be able to calm down himself/herself. You can use a pacifier to calm your child down and after that try to feed him/her again.

If you are in the room without a conditioner your child might get too hot and, therefore, refuse to suck.

Other reason why your child might not eat as usual might be that you developed plugged ducts while breastfeeding. It is a very common problem in mothers especially in the first few months of breastfeeding. Your newborn just may not be able to suck milk because mother’s breasts became swollen, hot, and tender that it is hard to grasp the areola. Swollenness and tenderness of a breast can occur and with other diseases, such as breast infection (called mastitis) and breast engorgement. If a child cannot fully latch on he will not get enough milk and start to cry. Other thing is that if he has to suck to hard he might damage his/her tongue, or gums, or lips which can start even to bleed.

Medical Disclaimer

The author is not a doctor and the information in the article is general in nature with no medical advises given or imply. Talk to your doctor, nurse or medical advisor how to treat health related problems.