As a parent, it’s frustrating when your child refuses to eat, especially when they are small, and we know the importance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
While infants don’t need anything besides formula or breastmilk, they must get plenty to keep them growing correctly. (No pressure on the parents, of course.)
You would think bottle feeding wasn’t rocket science, but here we are. My oldest couldn’t stop losing weight after he was born, and the toll it took on me was significant.
As a first-time mom, I swore up and down that I was a failure and how sad it was that I couldn’t provide my son with enough nourishment. But no one told me that even newborn babies are picky, and if we don’t nurse them in the correct position or offer them a specific type of formula, they will refuse to eat.
Tears turned into Google searches to help figure out why my son wouldn’t eat. I concluded that babies enter this world with a distinguished palate, and it is our job to determine their preferred meal. Ok, perhaps, I’m referring to my children now, but I learned early on that it’s difficult to read what my babies want.
In this article, I’ll cover why some babies don’t like their formula and whether it’s safe to add anything to make it taste better. Also, I’ll go into further detail about what you can do to make the baby formula taste better.
While I’m no expert, I am a mom of three who understands the frustration of a baby not wanting to eat.
Why Some Babies Don’t Like The Taste of Their Formula
If you ask a parent at 3 a.m. why their baby doesn’t like the taste of their formula, their response will likely not be safe for the workplace. Sometimes, babies are these confusing little beings and are extremely hard to decipher.
However, if your little one doesn’t like their formula, there’s likely a reason behind it, and it might not even have to do with the taste. So here is a snapshot of some reasons why your baby doesn’t like the taste of their formula.
- It has spoiled and tastes sour.
- They don’t like the texture or flavor.
- Your baby has stomach pain from gas and doesn’t want to eat.
- You recently switched brands, and it tastes different.
- Your baby also breastfeeds and has trouble going back and forth between the two.
- They are older and prefer eating solid foods.
- You didn’t prepare the formula properly (i.e., you used the wrong number of scoops).
- Your baby has become distracted at feeding time.
- They don’t like the type of bottle you are using, or the flow is too slow or fast.
- It’s Tuesday and raining, so they don’t like their formula. Ok, so maybe this one is a bit of a stretch, but sometimes it’s hard to tell why your baby won’t eat.
As you can see, there are several reasons your baby might not like the taste of their formula, and frequently it’s hard to decode since they can’t tell you. Maybe their screaming lungs are a good indicator, but they still can’t get the words out.
Also, if your baby is intolerant to cow’s milk formula, you should research additional options for formula, as it can cause them to be gassy, bloated, fussy, and have loose stools. If you also breastfeed, you should be aware of cow’s milk in your diet, as it will affect your baby too.
Is It Safe to Add Things to Your Baby’s Formula to Add Flavor?
Checking with your pediatrician before adding anything to your baby’s formula is always best. However, you will hear various opinions on this matter. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should not introduce solids until your baby is about 6 months old, meaning you shouldn’t add anything to your newborn’s bottle.
It can be tempting to add sweetness to your baby’s bottle, but their digestive system is a finicky little thing, and you must be careful with what you are giving them, as their stomachs can only handle so much.
You may have heard you can add vanilla, rice cereal, juices, or corn syrup to baby formula, but it’s best not to disturb their little stomachs. For the record, you should never give honey to babies under 12 months due to the risk of botulism.
Your baby is old enough at 6 months to eat meats, beans, eggs, yogurts, cheeses, vegetables, and fruits. If your baby develops a distaste for formula around this age, you can discuss with your pediatrician about adding something to ensure they drink their bottle.
As a tip, if you feed them jarred food, you should not warm up the food straight from the jar. Instead, transfer it to a dish before microwaving.
As a final thought, we all parent differently, but when it comes to feeding your baby, you should always ask your pediatrician their thoughts. While I know you might have a different opinion, consulting a professional is always best in situations like this.
5 Ways to Make Your Baby Formula Taste Better
If you want to make baby formula taste better, I’ve listed several tips that don’t involve adding anything to your bottle and instead have you looking at your current methods from a different perspective.
1. Use a Different Water Source
The water you use can significantly impact the taste of baby formula. According to Mayo Clinic, you can use tap or bottled water to make the formula. However, depending on where you live, the tap water can have an unusual overall taste, so you may want to revert to bottled water.
Mayo Clinic also recommends boiling the water for one minute if you use well water. If you suspect water is why your little one turns their nose to the formula, you may also consider trying ready-to-feed formula. However, anyone who has bought those knows they don’t come cheap, and powder formula is easier on the wallet.
But if you are trying to determine if water is the cause of your baby’s dislike, you can try the ready-made kind and switch back if they are happy as a clam drinking it. Something I quickly learned as a parent is that a lot of things you go through are very much trial and error, which is why we sometimes refer to my oldest as “the guinea pig”.
2. Don’t Constantly Switch Formula Brands
I’m all about a good deal, but you should always stick to the same formula for your little one. If you regularly give them a specific brand, you shouldn’t stray unless your baby has adverse reactions to the formula. So, for example, a different formula brand could give them stomach issues that the original didn’t.
In addition, if you must switch brands, it’s best to add small amounts of the new kind to help your baby acquire the new taste.
Also, if your baby reacts to the soy protein in the formula, they may experience constipation or diarrhea. It’s recommended that soy-based formula only be used for babies who are lactose intolerant.
Finally, you want to allow your baby several days to adjust to the new formula, so don’t give up too quickly.
3. Mix Formula with Breastmilk
If you also are breastfeeding, your baby might not like going back and forth between the two. If you send bottles to daycare, consider mixing formula and breastmilk to produce a familiar flavor.
You want to be mindful of cross-contamination, so ensure both liquids are fresh and dispose of the bottle when they finish, as you can not save it for later.
Also, mixing formula and breastmilk is an excellent idea as you transition from only breastfeeding to strictly giving them formula. If you can, it’s best to make a gradual change to prevent your child from having issues with the switch.
4. Warm The Formula Before Serving
You can use a bottle warmer to warm up the formula if your baby doesn’t like the taste when it’s cold. However, you should not put the bottle in a microwave because it unevenly heats the formula. Instead, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration says microwaving bottles can cause “hot spots,” which can burn the inside of your baby’s mouth.
But, you can safely warm up your baby’s bottle because some formula-fed babies do not enjoy drinking their formula cold. You should test the warmed liquid on your hand (not your wrist, which is one of the areas least sensitive to heat) to ensure it’s lukewarm.
5. Follow Your Baby’s Lead
If your baby is overtired or sick, they likely won’t be interested in their bottle. While you want to ensure your baby eats, you also want to follow their leads if their behavior seems off. Take yourself for an example; when you are sick, you probably eat less.
So, if your baby suddenly has an aversion to their formula, it might not have anything to do with the taste but with how they feel overall.
Kelly is a mom of three who finds joy in writing about her parenting experiences and filling in others about the must-have products and the ones you can leave on the store shelf. With a bit of humor, Kelly tries to laugh off the messy side of parenting and, instead, focus on the beautiful moments it brings. Originally from South Florida, she now calls Northern Virginia home and looks forward to connecting with readers through The Place for Parents.