Some Common Bottle Feeding Problems

Every parent comes up against obstacles, whether you breastfeed, formula feed or are weaning your baby, feeding your baby is such an important issue that it is perfectly natural that you can run into problems. Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems encountered when bottle-feeding your baby.


If your baby has an allergy or intolerance to the milk you are using you will notice certain signs, including but not limited to, rashes such as hives and eczema, vomiting, loose watery stools (which may or may not be accompanied by a foul smell) or constipation, colic symptoms or even wheezing. If your baby has unexplained symptoms it will be up to a doctor to decide if they are caused by an intolerance to the milk you are using. If your baby does have a problem with the formula, you will be able to switch the type of formula you are using.

Spitting Up

A small amount of spitting up is perfectly normal due to your baby’s immature digestive system. You can reduce the chance of your baby returning some of the feed by encouraging any wind to come up during a feed by having a little burp break half way through as well as winding your little one after the feed. Some babies respond very well to being held in a more upright position as they feed as this allows wind to come up and reduces the chance of food coming back up.

Refusing the Bottle

If your baby refuses the bottle and appears to be hungry, or fusses and seems to find it difficult to settle down for the feed, there could be a number of causes. The formula could be flowing too fast from the teat of the bottle, causing discomfort and possibly even choking. On the other hand, if the hole in the teat is too small, your baby may feel like they simply have to work too hard to feed. This problem is easily rectified by choosing a new teat for the bottle with the appropriately sized hole for your baby’s age and personal preference. Many babies refuse a feed or fuss at the bottle when they have a cold. This is a natural response ? imagine if you had a stuffy nose and had to suck ? and it is understandable that your little one might turn away from the bottle regularly to breathe. You can help your baby to breathe more freely by using nasal drops to clear the nose but rest assured that before too long they will be making up for any missed feeds when the cold goes away. Teething can be another reason for your baby to seem reluctant to feed. All you can do in this case is to offer your baby as much relief as you can by using teething gels, massaging the gums or giving pain relief such as baby paracetamol if appropriate.

Is my Baby Getting Enough?

If your baby is getting enough formula, they will be growing and gaining weight. Nappies will be wet and dirty regularly (five or six wet nappies a day is normal) and your baby will seem satisfied after a feed. If you feel that your baby is not getting enough formula because they are not gaining weight or having regular wet nappies then you should speak to your doctor who can arrange to monitor your baby’s weight and development and talk to you about any changes to the feeding schedule or formula you are using.

The HSE has some further information about Bottle Feeding