My Child Refuses to Take a Bottle. What Should I Do?


Asked by Meg

Refusing To Take A Bottle And Worrying About Dehydration - What Can I Do Next?

My son who is 6 1/2 months old is completely refusing to have his bottle. He has consistently fallen on the centile charts since birth and despite several trips to the health visitor and gp, they haven't seemed to be able to offer any advice on his feeding problems. He started on the 50th centile and is now on th 8th. I spoke to a pediatrician who is a friend(as a favour) , who said she thought it sounded like he had reflux, having gone through the trials of different milk, bottles, trying gaviscon etc. She prescribed domperidone and ranitidine which the gp felt was a good idea. Initially this seemed to help and his milk aversion seemed to improve but things are worse than ever. He screams at the sight of a bottle and refuses to be held to feed and it can take me hours to get 1-2oz in him and he is very difficult to dream feed as he cries the minute he feels the milk/bottle in his mouth. I went back to the gp 3 days ago begging for a pediatric referral as we can't carry on like this. At the time the gp didn't think he was dehydrated but as I only managed to get him to have 10oz of milk today, 13oz the day before and 10oz the day before that I'm worried sick that he will get dehydrated/won't grow. I'm going back to the gp tomorrow as I don't feel I can wait weeks for a referral to come through. Should I take my son to A&E if the GP can't offer me some help in getting more milk in my son?


Dear Meg,

Oh Meg, I am worried about your little guy. As the other Sharepost mentioned, babies can dehydrate very easily and quickly. It sounds like your little boy has gone from a feeding aversion (the sight of the bottle is upsetting, refusing to eat) to a feeding strike-he is refusing to eat altogether.

Some parents are able to get a small amount of milk/formula in with a syringe, spoon or sippy cup. I like the idea of using a rehydration drink. Unfortunately, as your son resists eating, he can feel your desperation and pressure to get a few ounces in. This can increase the resistance. You really have done everything you can to help him. It is up to the doctor to diagnose and treat the problem right now.Sometimes it helps to give the doctor a lot of data-number of feedings, how much, amount of crying. I know one mom who brought the bottle to the doctor's office and showed the doctor how upsetting it was for her baby to just see the bottle. The doctor was amazed at the level of feeding aversion and got right to work helping her. Perhaps your health visitor could try feeding him or observe him during a feeding? Would she be able to advocate for your son and call the doctor?

If you do not get assistance from the doctor or the doctor is not available, it is best to go to the Emergency Department of the hospital if you are concerned about dehydration.

There is much support and information on this site. I hope you will give us an update. Also, I hope the other moms and dads will share their stories and ideas with Meg.

Jan Gambino

The Reflux Mom

You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.