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3 Reasons Why You Baby Refuses Bottle At Daycare & What Can You Do!

Dropping a baby off at daycare is stressful enough for working parents–deep down, we all would love the chance to raise our own children while having time and resources to be present without the need for additional supervision.

According to recent Census Bureau data, almost 7 million children receive care from someone other than a parent on a daily basis, with almost 4 million of these children in an organized daycare environment.


  • What happens at daycare?
  • The reason why a baby refuses to eat at daycare
  • What can you do?

What happens at daycare?

Assuming caregiver to child ratios are appropriate, there are a number of things that your child will be involved in daycare.

Some of these activities include:

#1 Interacting with staff and other children

Baby Interacting with other children

Your child will likely be developing relationships with those that care for him and those that are also present and receiving care.

These relationships are an important foundation for future social interactions that he will have to navigate successfully.

#2 Engaging in play, organized activity, and learning

Baby playing children center's games

Depending on the type of daycare center, your child is likely to engage in a number of organized play and development activities appropriate to his age.

He will have access to toys, craft materials, and other opportunities for learning as the day unfolds.

#3 Resting

How To Dress Baby For Sleep In 70 Degree Room Header 2

If your child is under 3 years of age, it is likely that he will be napping or resting at some point during the day.

Development and stimulation by the world around him are happening almost constantly, and your little one will be tired!

Working with your daycare provider to provide a consistent nap time each day will help you on those days when you are calling the shots.

Maintain that schedule, and provide some much-needed structure for him.

#4 Feeding or eating

Baby eating food at daycare

Depending on the age of your child, he will be fed or learning to eat using age-appropriate foods and utensils.

Young children may be receiving a bottle several times daily to meet nutritional requirements.

While for most children it is not an issue–they eat when they are hungry, stop when they are full

for others, it can seem like a monumental task to eat during such an emotional time.

Solving the problem of a picky or resistant eater is of utmost importance if a child is going to be spending a significant amount of time at daycare, away from mom and dad.

What do we do when baby refuses bottle at daycare?

The reason why a baby refuses to eat

What are some possible reasons that baby refuses bottle at daycare?

The answer could lie in any of the following scenarios, and determining which issue your child is dealing with can mean the difference between sickness and health as you struggle to right the ship once more.

He could:

Be distracted

distracted baby at child care

In a stimulating and busy environment, it could be that baby is just so overstimulated with all of the data pouring in that he doesn’t think about his own body’s needs and signals.

As a result, hours go by before intense hunger pangs set in, and by then he is likely home with mom and dad.

The result? He eats ravenously once he is in a calm environment, and the cycle repeats itself the following day.

Feel that things just aren’t right

baby doesn't holded like mom does

Perhaps a caregiver doesn’t hold baby like mom does—–nobody does it quite like mom does

or a technique that has been proven effective at home is not known about at daycare and therefore, not used.

A baby has a sense of what he deems comfortable and what is foreign to him; if something doesn’t feel right, that might be enough of a trigger to cause an issue with feeding.

Finding the sweet spot between the familiar and the unknown where a child is willing to grow will put you in a more successful position to complete some effective feeding sessions.

Be experiencing some trauma due to parents being absent

Angry boy

When a child is instinctively aware that mom and dad are not around, he begins to question his own safety and whether his needs will be met.

This is enough of an emotional upset to cause some children to avoid eating.

Eating is associated with comfort, and your child may hesitate to receive comfort from another in any form while he perceives that parents are not in the picture anymore.

Regardless of the reason, what can we do?

Kids gotta eat! When baby refuses the bottle at daycare, do what you can to uncover the reason for his refusal.

Then employ these techniques to hopefully get him back on track and feeling more comfortable at mealtime:

#1 Use the same “hardware” that is used at home.

Most parents will bring familiar items and items of comfort with them that baby can use at daycare.

Using the same bottle will help establish a sense of comfort and control for baby; he knows what to expect, and he will be more likely to look forward to that familiarity when mealtime rolls around.

#2 Have items of comfort around baby when it is time for feeding.

This could include favorite blankets, a shirt that smells like Mama, stuffed animals, or even comforting sound and music to help feeding time go smoothly.

The more you can recreate the familiarity and comfort of home, the more likely it will be that baby can take the bottle during the day.

#3 Adhere to a feeding schedule similar to the one kept at home.

This could get tricky at daycare, for having to make accommodations for one child could make it difficult to care for others.

Do what you can to set up and establish a feeding schedule that is in sync with a home schedule, and that might be enough to inspire baby to eat.

#4 Don’t stress too much!

One thing pediatricians regularly tell parents of picky eaters is that when they are hungry, they will eat!

Self-preservation is a wonderful thing at times; these babies know what to do when they are hungry; they will instinctively search for food when their stomach signals that it’s time.

When in doubt, talk to your pediatrician, who can offer valuable insight and advice on finding creative ways to inspire baby to eat and drink.

Parents, remember that the baby refuses bottle at daycare issue is just a phase; your child will likely grow out of this as he gets older and begins to take social cues from others around him who are enjoying delicious food.

Stay strong, ask questions, and take a deep breath. You will see improvement in time, and your little one will continue to thrive. Best of luck to you!

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