Teething Troubles: Why Do Babies Suddenly Refuse Bottles?

As any parent knows, teething can be a trying time for both babies and their caregivers. From drooling to fussiness, it’s no surprise that teething can affect a child’s feeding routine. One of the common concerns among parents is whether or not their baby will refuse bottles during this stage. In this article, we will explore the question, “Do babies refuse bottles when teething?” We’ll examine the potential reasons behind this behavior and provide helpful tips for parents looking to navigate through this challenging time. So, if you have a teething baby at home, keep reading to find out more.

The Connection Between Teething and Bottle Refusal

Teething is a natural process in a baby’s physical development where their first set of teeth, also known as primary teeth, start to emerge. It usually begins around six months of age and can last up to two years. This milestone can be exciting for parents as it marks the growth of their child’s oral health, but it can also come with its own set of challenges.

One common issue that parents encounter during this stage is bottle refusal. Many babies who were previously bottle-fed without any issues suddenly start to reject the bottle during the teething phase. This sudden change in behavior can be frustrating and concerning for parents, but rest assured, it is entirely normal.

It is important to understand the connection between teething and bottle refusal to effectively address this challenge and provide your baby with appropriate care.

Why Do Babies Refuse Bottles When Teething?

As teething involves the growth of new teeth, your baby might experience discomfort and pain in their sensitive gums. This pain can sometimes radiate towards their jaw, making them hesitant to suckle on a bottle. Additionally, babies tend to explore everything with their mouths at this age due to increased salivation. As a result, they may put less pressure on the nipple or chew on it instead of sucking normally.

Another possible reason for refusing bottles when teething is that your baby’s nasal passages may become congested due to inflammation caused by teething. This could make breathing difficult while feeding from a bottle and lead them to reject it.

Moreover, during this period, babies’ routines are disrupted due to the discomfort resulting from teething symptoms such as irritability, drooling, and disturbed sleeping patterns. These changes in routine can also contribute to your baby refusing bottles as they are simply not hungry at their usual feeding time.

It’s essential to be aware that teething can also cause your baby to experience a decreased appetite overall. This reduction in hunger can, consequently, lead to disinterest in bottle-feeding.

When in the Teething Phase Do Babies Refuse Bottles?

The timing of when babies refuse bottles during teething can vary. Some infants might reject bottles as early as four months when their teeth first start emerging. Others might manage to feed without any problems until their molars start to grow at around 12-14 months. However, the most common age for bottle refusal due to teething is between six and nine months.

It’s important to note that the intensity and duration of teething symptoms can vary for every child, hence their bottle refusal may also vary.

How to Help Your Teething Baby Accept a Bottle

Although it can be discouraging when your baby refuses a bottle, there are ways you can help make it easier for them:

  • Offer chilled or frozen teething toys: Coldness helps numb your baby’s gums, providing relief from discomfort while also distracting them from the pain.
  • Try different bottle nipples: Some babies might find comfort in softer or wider nipples during this phase. Experiment with various bottle brands until you find one that works best for your child.
  • Massage your baby’s gums: Gently rubbing your clean finger on your baby’s gums can help soothe their discomfort temporarily.
  • The right time: Pay attention to when your child is more likely to accept a bottle during the day – it could be before or after naps or playtime.
  • Persistence and patience: It’s crucial to remain patient and persistent during this phase, as eventually, your little one will get back into their normal feeding routine.

When to Seek Medical Advice?

In most cases, bottle refusal during teething is temporary and not a cause for concern. However, there might be an underlying reason causing your baby to refuse bottles, such as an ear infection or a sore throat.

If your baby continues to reject bottles for more than a week or shows other concerning symptoms like fever, diarrhea, or difficulty swallowing, it’s best to consult with their pediatrician. Additionally, if you notice any unusual swelling or redness in their gums while teething, seek medical advice.

The Takeaway

Teething is a natural process that most babies go through without any major complications. Bottle refusal during this phase is entirely normal and should not cause panic. By understanding the reasons why babies refuse bottles when teething and knowing how to address it, parents can effectively navigate this challenge and continue providing their child with adequate nutrition and care during this important milestone in their development. Remember to stay patient and seek medical advice if you have any concerns regarding your baby’s health during this stage.

Can teething cause babies to refuse bottles?

Teething is a natural and inevitable process that all babies go through. As their tiny teeth start to push through their gums, it can cause discomfort and pain, making them fussy and irritable. While most parents are aware of the classic signs of teething such as excessive drooling, irritability, and gum swelling, there is another common symptom that can be a source of frustration for both parents and babies alike – refusing to drink from a bottle.

It’s not uncommon for teething babies to suddenly develop a strong aversion to their bottle. They may pull away from it or outright refuse to open their mouth when you try to feed them. This sudden change in behavior can be alarming for parents who are worried about their baby’s nutrition and hydration. But does teething really have an impact on a baby’s bottle-feeding habits? Let’s explore this topic in more detail.

What causes babies to refuse bottles when teething?

Teething itself does not directly cause babies to refuse bottles. However, the discomfort associated with teething can make them cranky and irritable, making bottle-feeding more challenging. There are also some other possible reasons why your teething baby may be refusing to take the bottle:

Painful gums

As their teeth start to push through the gums, it can cause inflammation and soreness which can make suckling on a bottle painful for the baby.

Sucking motion aggravates sore gums

Babies use their tongues, cheeks, and jaw muscles to create a sucking motion while nursing or drinking from a bottle. This motion can put pressure on the already inflamed gums, making it difficult for them to drink from a bottle comfortably.


Teething pain can make it difficult for babies to focus on feeding, especially if they are in a new and stimulating environment. They may get easily distracted by their surroundings and refuse to feed.

Ear infection

Sometimes, babies may develop an ear infection during teething. This can cause discomfort and pain while sucking, making them refuse the bottle.

Change in taste of breastmilk or formula

Some babies may find their mother’s breast milk or the taste of their usual formula less appealing due to the increased saliva caused by teething. This can lead to a refusal to feed from the bottle.

How to encourage a teething baby to take a bottle?

As a parent, it can be worrisome if your baby suddenly starts refusing their bottle, especially if they are exclusively or partially fed through it. Here are some tips that can help you encourage your teething baby to take the bottle:

Distract them with something else

Try giving them a teething toy to chew on before feeding. This will provide some relief for their sore gums, making them more comfortable while sucking on the bottle.

Offer cold liquids

Cold liquids can provide temporary relief for sore gums. Try chilling breast milk or formula before offering it in a bottle. You can also offer cool water in between feeds.

Pump and spoon feed

If your baby is refusing the bottle but will still take breast milk from you, try pumping and spoon-feeding instead. This gives an alternate way for your baby to receive nutrients without having to suck on something that may be causing discomfort.

Create a calm environment

Teething pain can make babies more sensitive and reactive towards their surroundings. Try feeding your baby in a quiet and calm environment with minimal distractions.

Trial and error with different bottles

Some babies may be more comfortable feeding from a different type of bottle. If you have been using a particular brand of bottle with no issues, but your baby suddenly starts to refuse it, try switching to a different brand or type of bottle. Your baby may find it easier to feed from a nipple that better fits their mouth or is shaped differently.

When to seek medical advice?

While it is common for teething babies to refuse bottles, there are some signs that may indicate that something else is going on. If your baby is persistently refusing the bottle and not getting enough nutrition and hydration, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician. Seek medical advice if:

Your baby has not gained weight

If your baby is solely dependent on bottle-feeding and has not gained weight normally in the past few weeks, it could be a sign of an underlying issue.

Your baby appears dehydrated

Signs of dehydration in babies include decreased urination, dry lips and mouth, lethargy, and sunken fontanelles (soft spots on the head). If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Your baby has a severe earache


1. Can teething cause a baby to refuse bottles?
Yes, teething can cause discomfort and pain in a baby’s gums, making them more likely to refuse bottles.

2. When do babies usually start teething?
Babies can start teething as early as 3 months old, but most will begin between 6-9 months.

3. How can I tell if my baby is refusing the bottle due to teething?
Signs that your baby may be refusing the bottle due to teething include increased drooling, chewing on objects, and fussiness while feeding.

4. What can I do if my baby refuses the bottle while teething?
You may need to try different bottle nipples or temperatures to see what your baby prefers. You can also try massaging their gums with a clean finger before feeding.

5. Will my baby’s appetite decrease during teething?
It is possible for a baby’s appetite to decrease during teething due to discomfort in their mouth. However, it is important to monitor their hydration levels and offer other nutritious foods and fluids if they are not drinking from the bottle.

6. Is it safe for my baby to use a pacifier while they are teething?
Using a pacifier can provide relief for a teething baby by allowing them to suck and chew on something, but be cautious as prolonged use of pacifiers can impact dental development in some children. Always consult with your child’s pediatrician for personalized advice.

In conclusion, the topic of whether babies refuse bottles when teething is a common concern among parents. Through this article, we have explored various factors that may contribute to a baby’s refusal to drink from a bottle during teething. We have learned that teething can cause discomfort in a baby’s mouth, making them less interested in feeding. Additionally, the introduction of solid foods and changes in routine during teething can also impact a baby’s willingness to drink from a bottle.

However, it is important to note that every child is different and may experience teething differently. While some babies may refuse bottles during this time, others may not be affected at all. It is important for parents to pay attention to their individual child’s needs and offer alternative methods of feeding if necessary.

Furthermore, it is crucial for parents to consult with their pediatrician if they have any concerns about their baby’s feeding habits during teething. A doctor can offer personalized advice and strategies to help ease discomfort and maintain proper nutrition for the baby.

Overall, while teething may lead to temporary challenges with bottle-feeding, it should not be a cause for alarm. With patience and understanding, as well as utilizing different feeding techniques and seeking medical advice if needed, babies can still receive proper nutrition during this natural

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Lian Chikako Chang
Welcome to Littldata! Our mission is to help parents streamline their family logistics with practical tools and insights. Whether you’re managing school schedules, extracurricular activities, or family outings.

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Hi, I’m Lian Chikako Chang. I’m a data researcher and mom living in San Francisco. At Littldata, my goal is to help parents figure out their family logistics by sharing calendars, maps, lists, and spreadsheets–as well as research-backed blog posts and data graphics.

From 2024, I have embarked on a new journey of writing an informative blog on the “Littldata” niche.

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