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Nursing Strike or Weaning?



Your baby has refused to nurse and you're trying to figure out why. You don't want to force him to nurse if he's ready to move on to solids and sippy cups. But what if he's not? What if there some other reason? How can you tell the difference?

If your baby is less than a year old and not eating a lot of solid foods yet, chances are he's not weaning, something else is going on. After all, any baby who stops breast-feeding prior to one year will still have to drink formula. They are not ready for a diet solely of solid foods yet. Let's take a look at five common reasons why babies go on a nursing strike.

Strong Reaction to Biting

It's hard to not have a strong reaction and being bit especially when you're not expecting it. A gasp or a shout or even a quick unlatch of the child can make him feel as if he's done something wrong, and he has, but how you react to it will make the difference when he comes back to the breast. You can read our blog called When Breast-feeding Babies Bite, HERE.

Ear Infection

According to La Leche League International, breastfeeding with an ear infection can cause pressure in the eustachian tube while nursing. If you think this is the culprit, schedule an appointment with your baby’s pediatrician and also discuss options with the lactation consultant.

Nose Congestion

It's really difficult to eat at the breast when you can't breathe through your nose. If nose congestion is the issue and using a simple saline wash followed by an aspirator is not working to clear the airway, then contact your baby’s pediatrician for more options of how you can keep your baby comfortable.


Frequent Reliance on Pacifier, Thumb, or Bottle

When mom is not able to meet all of baby suckling needs and a pacifier is introduced or your baby takes a liking to his thumb, or even when pumping and then bottle feeding, these factors can all attribute to lower milk production. The same is true if mom needs to be away for an extended amount of time due to illness, treatment, travel etc..

If your milk supply is down it will be easier for the baby to eat from a bottle then to work for it to help reestablish your milk at the breast.

If your baby's suckling needs are beyond what you can provide and you do use a pacifier, make sure you continue to offer the breast for comfort and nourishment whenever possible. This will help keep your milk supply up.

Stress in the Home

If there is stress in the home and raised voices during the times when baby is nursing, your baby may interpret raised voices to be negative energy directed towards him. If he feels like nursing time is stressful or that he's doing something wrong he's going to reject it.

We all have hard times in our life, if you find that this is the case when you're trying to nurse your baby, seek a quiet, calm spot in the house where you and your child can have some alone time. The bonding time and love that flows back-and-forth between you while the baby nurses, will be good for both of you during this hard time.


Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of three. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at for more great info on Raising Kids. 

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