Nursing Strike- questions

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2006
Nursing Strike- questions
Sun, 11-08-2009 - 9:19pm

My 11 month old started a nursing strike Friday night.

He nursed fine Friday morning, took bottles of ebm all day Friday while I was at work, tried to nurse when we got home- his over-excited brother was a big distraction- then has refused since. The only exceptions are early morning hours before he is really up. I don't know if that one funky Friday afternoon nursing session did it or what else could have caused it. We have had company this weekend (my mom), but nothing else of note.

He is clearly very upset when I offer- arches his back, cries, etc. There is no interest at all.

I have been pumping since Friday night and giving him bottles of ebm. Even his bottle taking has been weird- lots of sips then pull off, then more sips. He eventually drinks the bottle, but I wonder if that is an indication of someting connected to the strike? He takes bottles every day at daycare, so I know he normally takes them fine.

I have read a lot of the online resources and realize it is both common and will, hopefully, pass. My questions I could not find online-

- Do I offer to nurse at each session? I was not sure what to do today. I knew he would refuse and get upset and I couldn't decide if I should give it some time - like a day or so- or offer to nurse every few hours. I don't want to make it worse and wonder if him getting upset every time will prolong it.

- How long do I try in a session? What happens is as soon as I put him in nursing position, he freaks out. Do I just abort mission at that first sign of rejection in order to avoid making it more upsetting, or keep trying for a little while?

- When they finally come out of it, do they just decide to nurse with no issue, or is it more of a coaxing where they refuse again but through encoruagement decide to nurse?

I am just stuck not knowing how to offer without making this situation worse. Needless to say, I am stressed about it and am sure that is not helping! We were so far into our nursing relationship, and he has been doing so great, I am suprised we are finding ourselves in this situation.



iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2007
Mon, 11-09-2009 - 12:46am


Is baby acting ill at all? I am wwondering since you mention odd behavior with bottke too. Sometimes an ear infecction will make it painful for baby to nurse or take a bottle. Or teething? KWIM?


Tips and helps on getting baby backk to the breast, you want to coax baby back to the breast. try offering when baby is tired (just going to sleep or just waking)

Personally I would offer at most (or all) sessions, but not for an extended period of time (a few minutes)

Have you tried BF laying down? Either both of you laying down or you laying and baby in a sitting position with your legs kind of curled behind his back. (my DS LOVES this position at night)

"General tips

Your goal is to coax baby to the breast. Do not attempt to force your baby to breastfeed. Forcing baby to the breast does not work, stresses baby, and can result in baby forming an aversion to the breast. As baby gets better at nursing and is able to get more milk via nursing, he will grow to trust that breastfeeding works and will have more patience when latching.

* Wear clothing that allows very easy access to the breasts. Baby may get very impatient in the split-second it takes for mom to lift the blouse and undo the bra. Spend time, if possible, in a warm place that allows both mom and baby to be naked from the waist up.
* Lots of skin-to-skin contact can help your baby nurse better and even gain weight faster. Keep your baby with you as much as possible, and give him lots of opportunities to nurse (even if you're not successful). Get skin-to-skin with him, first when he is sleepy, right after a bottle feed (or however you're supplementing). This way baby has the opportunity to sleep and wake up happily, skin to skin at mom's chest, and mom is right there to catch the earliest hunger cues. If baby moves toward the breast and then falls asleep before even mouthing the nipple, or after sucking twice, then these are positive baby steps, not failures. (Read more about kangaroo care or take a look at the book.)
* Offer the breast often. Try breastfeeding in baby's favorite place, in his favorite position, in the bath, while walking around, while lying down, with baby upright, baby flat on his back, in his sleep, just as he is waking, any time baby looks as if he might be interested, or any other way you can think of, i.e. any time, anywhere.
* Avoid pressuring baby to nurse. Offer in an ultra-casual way and pretend you don't mind if he refuses (easier said than done, but try not to show any frustration - your aim is to avoid pressuring baby to nurse). Don't hold the back of baby's head or push or hold baby to the breast. If baby pulls off the breast, then don't try to make him go back onto the breast at that time - simply try again later. If baby seems frustrated with your offering the breast, then turn the pressure down and simply make the breast available (lots of skin-to-skin!) without offering. It can be helpful to have lots of skin-to-skin time with baby where he is cuddled at the breast with no pressure to nurse - give control over to your baby, so that baby decides if and when to nurse and when to stop nursing.
* Carry your baby close to you (a sling or other baby carrier can help with this). "Wear," carry, hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible; carry baby on your hip while doing other things, play with baby, and give baby lots of focused attention.
* Sleep near your baby. If baby sleeps with you, you'll get more skin-to-skin contact, plus baby has more access to the breast (see this information on safe co-sleeping). If baby is not in the same bed, have baby's bed beside your bed or in the same room so that you can catch early feeding cues, breastfeed easier at night, and get more sleep.
* Nipple shields can be helpful at times for transitioning baby to the breast. Talk to your lactation consultant about using this tool.
* Comfort nursing is often the first to come, followed by nutritive nursing. Offer the breast for comfort any time you see a chance- at the end of a feeding when baby is not hungry, when baby is going to sleep or just waking up, when baby is asleep, and whenever he needs to comfort suck If your baby is actively resisting nursing, then try encouraging comfort nursing after baby is comfortable with skin-to-skin contact. After baby is willing to nurse for comfort, you can then proceed to working on nursing for "meals" as well.

You are working to seduce your baby back to breast. Again, coax, don't force! "


HTH FOllow up with additional questions.

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