There’s nothing more important to you as a parent than making sure your baby is comfortable, safe, and well-fed. It can be extremely frustrating if your baby is crying while you are trying to fulfill one of their basic needs, especially if you don’t know why they’re upset. If you find that your baby is crying while bottle feeding, you may be wondering why and how to fix it.
If your baby is crying during a bottle feeding, it is possible that your baby might have an allergy, especially if your baby is drinking formula, but an allergy is not always the cause. Other reasons include lack of appetite due to illness, not getting enough milk, having a growth spurt, or even needing to be burped.
If you’re wondering why your baby is crying while bottle feeding, you are most likely eager to figure out how to solve the problem. Before you write it off as an allergy, it’s best to look at all the possibilities that could be causing your baby’s distress. Let’s look into the most common reasons why your baby might be crying while bottle feeding.
Why would a baby squirm and cry while bottle feeding?
According to the NCBI (National Center of Biotechnology Information,) around a quarter of all infants spend a significant portion of the first few months of their life crying excessively and not responding to the desperate soothing attempts of their parents. Excessive crying in infants, especially for several hours in the morning or afternoon, is usually referred to as colic.
Although there are many different reasons why an infant may be crying, especially during feeding, most infants who cry excessively are deemed “colicky babies” and a reason may never be found. Since there isn’t one specific cause of colic, this can be very frustrating for parents who are just trying to comfort and soothe their little one. Be assured that you are not alone in your frustration, and it is certainly not your fault if your baby does not respond to your soothing techniques.
If your baby is crying during a bottle feeding, your first thought may be that your baby has an allergy. This is a genuine concern for many parents. However, If your baby does have an allergy to cow’s milk or something else present in their formula, you may notice other symptoms as well, such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and blood or mucus in your baby’s stool.
If you do notice any of those symptoms, it is best to check with your pediatrician before making any change in your baby’s formula or feeding routine. According to the University of Michigan School of Medicine, lactose intolerance is very rare in babies, and you shouldn’t change your baby’s eating habits before checking in with their doctor.
Fortunately, there are many formulas available today made specifically for a baby with lactose sensitivity or allergy. Here is one of the best options for helping your baby!
There are plenty of other reasons why your baby may be upset during a bottle feeding, such as an issue with the bottle nipple, a tummy ache, acid reflux, or even a growth spurt. Examining all possibilities may help you find what soothes your baby, and it is always best to check with your pediatrician before making any changes in your child’s diet.
How to help a baby stop crying while eating
Sometimes when your baby is crying during a bottle feeding, there may be a simple fix. For instance, If your baby is crying mid feed, it’s possible your baby has gas and you may need to stop to burp your baby.
Before you jump to any conclusions, if your baby is crying mid feed, it’s helpful to check a few things first:
- Is your baby in a comfortable position? Position matters when bottle feeding, especially when you are trying to avoid having a gassy baby.
- Does your baby need to be burped? Any kind of tummy pain is going to upset your baby during a feeding.
- Have you checked the nipple to make sure it has the proper flow? If there isn’t enough milk coming out of the nipple, or too much milk, this may frustrate your baby.
- Is this a common occurrence? If your baby isn’t feeling well or there is another outside cause, it may be something other than a bottle issue. But if this is a common occurrence during feeding time, it’s worth spending time figuring out what the issue is.
I should also point out that purchasing a high-quality baby bottle designed to minimize the amount of extra air going into your baby’s mouth should be your first step in dealing with a frequently gassy baby. With our last two babies, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed using the ComoTomo Natural feel bottle because it dramatically reduces extra air intake, it’s super easy to clean, and the unique shape makes it easier for babies to learn to hold. You can check it out right here.
What if baby is crying halfway through a bottle?
If your baby is crying halfway through a bottle, your baby might be full, or might need to be burped. It’s important to feed your baby in a partially upright position instead of flat on their back to avoid giving them excessive gas. Try burping your baby and changing their feeding position if necessary.
Once you have burped your baby, make sure the proper amount of milk or formula is coming out of the nipple. If there is a defect in the bottle nipple, the liquid may not be flowing correctly, which would certainly frustrate your baby.
Think about the last time your baby was fed and the last time they took a nap. A baby who is tired or went too long between bottles may be cranky and fussing during their bottle feeding. Try to soothe your baby by holding them and rocking them. Remember to put your baby down for a few minutes if the crying starts to get to you. It is better to step away for a moment than to get frustrated with your baby.
What if the baby refuses the bottle completely and cries?
If your baby refuses the bottle completely and cries, your baby may not be hungry yet, or they may not be feeling well. If there are any other symptoms present such as a runny nose or a fever, the bottle may not be the reason why baby isn’t eating. Just like we tend to lose our appetite when we’re sick as adults, your baby may not feel like eating if they are sick also.
Try to soothe your baby by rocking and swaying them gently, and then try to feed your baby again in a few minutes. Be sure to check the temperature of the bottle in case the formula or breastmilk is too hot or cold. You may also try switching your baby to a different position.
If your baby is uncomfortable, that may prevent them from wanting to take the bottle.
Baby is pushing the bottle away but still hungry
If your baby is pushing the bottle away but still seems hungry, there are many possible causes. One possibility is your baby may be suffering from reflux. According to the Women and Children’s Health Network, a hungry baby taking a small amount of milk or formula and then pushing the bottle away is one sign of reflux. However, there may be other signs as well, such as:
- Excessive spitting up with visible signs of being uncomfortable
- Swallowing noises or gagging during a feeding
- Preference for being held upright
- Coughing after bottle-feeding
- Restless sleep
Although reflux is a possibility, there are many other possible causes of your baby’s discomfort as well. If you suspect your child may have reflux, check with their pediatrician before making any decisions about their feeding routine.
There is some evidence that reflux and general digestive fussiness could be helped by a gentle baby probiotic such as this one made by Gerber. Many parents claim that it worked wonders for their fussy baby!
My baby is squirming or kicking legs while bottle-feeding
When your baby is squirming or kicking their legs while bottle-feeding, those are usually signs of a tummy ache. If your baby has a tummy ache, it’s possible they may just need to be burped. It may also be beneficial to check the position in which you are feeding your baby.
When you are bottle-feeding, it’s important to make sure you are holding the bottle at a slight angle so that no extra air gets in the bottle, and the baby should be partially sitting up to help prevent gas.
Burping your baby before and after every feeding will help relieve some of their discomforts, and gently massaging your baby’s back after feeding may also help to relieve some of the gas.
Baby isn’t swallowing milk from the bottle
If your baby isn’t swallowing milk from the bottle, you may want to double-check the nipple to see if there is damage and make sure it is the correct size. Your baby may not be getting enough milk or may not be able to pull any milk out on their own.
According to verywellfamily.com, when you turn the bottle over, the formula or milk should come out at about a drop a second for a size one nipple. If it comes out slower or faster than that, you may want to try a different bottle nipple.
In some cases, you might need to switch the size of the bottle’s nipple. Newborns should start with a slow-flow nipple which will transition over time.
What if your baby is fussy while bottle-feeding breast milk?
If your baby is fussy when drinking breast milk out of a bottle, a reaction to cow’s milk is still a possibility. Breastfed infants can actually be affected by dairy products ingested by the mom before the breast milk is expressed. If your baby fussing while bottle-feeding breast milk is a common occurrence, mention it to your child’s pediatrician so they can rule out the possibility of an allergy.
Another possibility is your baby may be reacting to the taste of the milk. According to the La Leche League, lipase is a naturally occurring protein in breast milk, but when an excess amount of lipase is found in breast milk, it may cause a strange odor or smell that may be bothersome to your baby. Freshly expressed milk usually has a less intrusive odor or smell, so you can try to mix the stored milk with freshly pumped milk to see if the taste is the source of your baby’s fussing.