What can you do if your baby will not take formula?


We all know the phrase “breast milk is still the best for babies up to 2 years of age” and we’ve heard it on nearly every commercial or public service announcement by health organizations. While it is true, there are some situations that you may need to feed your baby some formula for a change, or, due to some other reason (usually health or schedule reasons). And here comes the big problem: what if your baby will not take formula?


Here are the reasons why they often refuse it:

  • The smell. Many moms out there have been in trouble when switching from breast milk to formula, since their babies are always often looking for the smell of breast milk from their mother.
  • Stomach upsets. Babies may refuse the formula because of its smell or its digestive upsets that it can give.
  • The taste. Yes, your baby’s taste buds could easily sense that they may be fed something that is not their usual thing, which can make them feel scared. Even if they do like the taste, some babies may initially refuse because they’re looking for the breast milk taste.
  • The nipple shape. Because most baby bottles feel very synthetic, your baby will know the difference between their mom’s nipples and some rubber plastic material. It may be that the breast nipple shape of a woman is far different from most manufactured baby bottle nipples out there. This may put off your baby when they are given a regular baby bottle.


Don’t worry – in this article, we’re going to give you some tips on what to do if your baby doesn’t want to be fed with formula, and how you can make the gradual switch.


Gradual Breast Milk + Formula Switch

Using this tip is the most common way to get your baby to take formula. Here’s the idea:

  • Gradual amounts. Don’t just feed your baby formula on the spot – give your baby some time to get used to it. Scoop up about ¼ of baby formula and more of breast milk at first, so that your baby won’t know the difference. When they get used to the ¼, try the 50/50 ratio and then increase it until it becomes fully baby formula only.


  • Give them enough time. Don’t expect the switch to happen too soon. You can wait for about weeks or months until you can add more baby formula to your bottle mix and then lessen the amount of breast milk gradually. This is so that your baby won’t even notice that you’re changing the formula you are giving him/her. Most moms can take about 2 months for this weaning process but it will be worth it in the end.


  • Try breast milk alternatives. There are actually baby formulas out there that are made to smell and taste like regular breast milk. While this isn’t 100% accurately the same as your breast milk when it comes down to smell, it will be still familiar for babies when they try it, so why not give it a try? You can also mix these formulas with your breast milk or another baby formula – it’s a matter of experimentation to see what your baby likes and dislikes – just make sure to keep them fed regularly.


  • Your baby’s taste preferences. Also do know that not all babies have the same preference when it comes down to milk, whether being nursed or receiving formula. Some may prefer this formula while some may prefer a different one.


  • Your baby’s digestive capability. Usually, some parents experience babies getting stomach upsets when they are switching from breast milk to baby formula. This is especially true when the baby formula you select is of cow’s milk. According to experts, cow’s milk is hard to digest. Therefore, if your baby finds this formula too hard to digest (experiencing some gas, colic or constipation problems), try a different baby formula that’s meant for sensitive tummies.


  • Slow flow nipple. It may also help if you’re feeding your baby through a slow flow nipple that is specially shaped to look like a mother’s natural breast. These nipples often have more air vents to prevent colic, gas, spit-ups and other problems when feeding babies with sensitive stomachs. They also emulate the same kind of texture and form as your nipples so they won’t find it too unfamiliar.


Try Adding Flavors

Adding flavors to your baby’s milk can make them potentially like it. Here are two examples:

  • Using apple juice. If your child has been used to breast milk all this time, you can add apple juice (just a bit) to the baby formula and they might love it (many moms have been using this technique for a while).
  • Using Strawberry Quick. Some parents have also suggested this, and adding it to the baby formula can apparently get them to like the new milk instead of the breast milk.
  • Using pear or prune juice. Aside from apple juice, some experts have also suggested that pear and prune juice may help your baby like the milk formula instead. In addition to that, these fruit juices, then gradually added in good amounts, can potentially help your baby if they are having constipation when they are first trying the new baby formula since we did mention above that baby formulas can potentially give stomach upsets if they’re not easy to digest.



As a whole, baby formulas can be hard to feed to breastfed babies, but it is all in a matter of patience, hard work, knowing your baby’s preferences and gradual switching. You can also invite other babies who are already drinking from baby bottles to get your child motivated for trying the new thing.


While it is true that “breast is best” for youngsters, there are really some instances when moms need to give up breastfeeding for a while just for a break, or if their child is growing up and need to take better formulas that are appropriate for their age, especially if they will reach their toddler stage.

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