Breast refusal can happen when the baby finds it difficult to latch on to the breast properly because he’s previously had a traditional bottle to feed from or a pacifier (dummy) to suck on.
The reason for this is that for your baby, feeding from a bottle and sucking on a dummy is a different technique than feeding from the breast. Babies use different facial muscles for these different types of sucking – bottle teats are somehow more rigid, with a constant flow of milk – so with bottle feeding, your baby doesn’t have to work as hard to get the milk. It’s easier for them, so this can become their preference.
For some babies, this can lead to breastfeeding problems when they are placed back on the breast, because they learn different feeding behaviour drinking from the traditional bottle than from the breast.
In order to get milk from the breast, babies must coordinate the movements of their tongue and jaws in a sucking motion that’s unique to breastfeeding. The baby does not need to do this with a bottle – it’s easier to get the milk that they want – so babies get used to not having to “work” for the milk and it creates a new behaviour pattern that can lead to less effective breastfeeding sessions.
This can create a cycle where the baby gets less milk and the mother’s body creates less supply.