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What to Do When Baby Refuses to Nurse (Guest Post)

Posted Feb 21 2012 12:00am

Babies are finicky little creatures, and sometimes even those who’ve been breastfeeding for a while will suddenly decide not to latch on.

Why won’t she nurse?

There are lots of reasons a baby might suddenly stop nursing as well as she previously has lowered milk supply, Mommy’s tension, too hot or cold, distracted by the increasingly interesting world around her…the reasons are actually endless. Sometimes there is really no good reason at all, just as sometimes you just don’t feel like eating breakfast some random morning.

Should I worry?

Nope. Most of the time, these little “glitches” only last a few feedings or a few days. If your baby has been nursing without a problem for a while, and is getting some milk through bottle-feeding, then there is no reason to worry. You can express breast milk for her bottles and rest assured that she is getting everything she needs. Even if you need to supplement with formula, they make it with almost all the good stuff in breast milk now.

Is she weaning herself?

If your baby is younger than about 9 months, then the answer is probably not. If she’s older than that, it’s possible, but not likely until she reaches a year old or more. Is she somewhere between 9 months and a year, so still not sure? A happy baby that is just not that interested in the breast anymore may be weaning. She is discovering independence and flexing what little bit she can of it! Fussiness means that this is probably something else. Lots of mommies who have babies older than 6 months will take advantage of this period of independence to go ahead and wean on purpose.

How can I pinpoint the reason she’s refusing to nurse?

There is no specific way to figure out these things, you just need to try and pick up clues from your little one and your surroundings. Ask yourself:

  • Is the room overly cold or hot?
  • Is the TV loud and distracting, or is there a lot of noise from outside that isn’t normal?
  • Has there been a change in routine lately, like overnight company or a new job for you or Daddy?
  • Are your baby’s clothes comfortable and not bunched up under her?
  • Has she been sick lately?

Sometimes these questions can tell you what might be wrong. Don’t worry if you can’t find the reason for a few days. Some babies just take a week off then resume nursing like it never happened, and we never quite know why.

What can I try to get her nursing again?

If you can get a clue from the questions above, that’s a good place to start. Try to change things in the baby’s environment to accommodate what might be wrong. When you can’t figure out what’s causing her sudden fasting, you can begin by adjusting one thing at a time to see if something helps. A quieter room, soft music, or turning the heat up or down might make her relax and eat. You can also try a warm bath, either together (try nursing in the tub!) or letting her have a relaxing bath before trying again. Sometimes your baby needs a gentle reminder why she’s there. You could express a bit of milk and touch her lips with it, or start her out with a bottle and try switching to the breast once she’s into it.

Are there other positions that might work?

Sure, sometimes a small change is all it takes! Try switching her around into a twin-nursing hold, where her body is tucked under your arm instead of across your body. Another alternative is to lie in bed on your side with your baby snuggled against you, this can be more comfortable for you both. If it’s hot, this can give her room to nurse without being tucked right up against you, making her more comfy. Another possibility is to let her sit more upright as she nurses; some babies tend to prefer this as they gain more mobility and become interested in the world around them. The same reasons might make her enjoy nursing with a sling while you walk around.

No matter what, don’t panic or stress out. Your little one will likely start nursing again on her own, and if she doesn’t you can use a bottle (full of breast milk or formula) to supplement or replace the breast without feeling bad about it. The most important thing you can give her is your love and lots of snuggles!

Author Bio

Laura Cecil, mama to three kids, is an editor of livesnet.com. Livesnet.com is a place that serves as a great resource for parents looking to find all the info they need on getting ready for their babies.  Whether she’s writing her reviews or sharing tips on this site,she just wants to take care of her kids better and help parents live better with their loves.  Please visit livesnet and read her recent hot articles on  uppababy vista stroller .

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