breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting, weaning from the breast

Is your baby on a nursing strike?

Babies are known to fool mums into thinking they are weaning from the breast.

The truth however is that between 3-5 months, babies can suddenly stop nursing and refuse to do so. That, is called a nursing strike! A nursing strike means that a baby will refuse to take the breast for a period of approximately 5-6 days. There are various reasons why they do that.

  • A cold or stuffy nose, which makes breathing difficult while nursing
  • An ear infection, which causes pressure or pain while sucking and swallowing
  • Discomfort from teething, a cold sore, or an infection (such as thrush)
  • A fever or a heat wave that makes bodily closeness less appealing
  • A newfound preference for bottles (if your child is given frequent bottles, they may like the faster milk flow, or be reacting to a reduction in Mother’s milk supply)
  • A major disruption in routine, such as moving or your returning to work after a maternity leave
  • Reduced milk supply – if you’ve been stressed out, your supply may be reduced
  • A change in the taste of mother’s milk, caused by the resumption of your periods, spicy or unusual foods, a vitamin or drug, or a new pregnancy
  • A new deodorant, soap, or perfume applied on or near the breasts
  • Strong let-down – the milk may be letting down too quickly for Baby’s liking, which may make him frustrated and refuse to latch on
  • Poor nursing habits – at around four months, when a baby begins to realize life is happening around him while he nurses, he may be squirmy or position himself awkwardly at the breast
  • Too much to do – busy six- to nine-month-olds are easily distracted and often opt to “snack” at the breast over settling down for a full meal
  • And sometimes for no perceptible reason at all!

To say nursing strikes are trying is an understatement! It can be a very stressful period for both mum and child. This previous blog post on nursing strikes gives you more information on how to deal with it.

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