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What to Do When Your Baby Suddenly Refuses to Breastfeed

Learn what to do when your baby suddenly refuses to breastfeed from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.


There are many reasons why a baby all of a sudden might go on a nursing strike. Sometimes it's simply that they are not feeling well, they're coming down with a cold, they might be teething, and it's uncomfortable to sort of latch on. It could be that they are just trying to test the waters and say I'm going to do my own thing. In a lot of cases, moms get very very upset, I always get a phone call asking "Oh my God, is this it for me?" And my first response is always be persistent and consistent in attempting to put them back on, even if it seems like it's going to be forever that baby will get back on, and they always do. Even if you have a baby that has been rejecting the breast, all a sudden, no reason, it could be low milk supply, it could be that you just came back in from working out, and your breasts were salty from sweat, it could be any reason. It could be one hour, it could be one week.

We don't know. When they go on strikes, they go on strikes and there's nothing telling us. But if you're persistent about putting them on, even if they seem like they're not interested, many will start off with licking once and then pulling back away. A lot of times they might suck three times and then say uh-uh. As long as you're persistent about it, and you're consistent about it, they'll get back on. And a lot of times it's just out of the blue when they do go back on. There's no rhyme or reason at all. But the one key is not forcing them to stay on, and being patient with them if they are showing signs that they want to pull off. We don't want them to have a negative association with the breasts at all. So, if you're holding their head there saying stay on, stay on. It's not going to help the situation.

Again, they lick twice, they suckle four times, and then they're done. Then take it for what it is, walk away, try again the next feeding. They will get back on. There are so many women who have spent endless, endless hours crying about their baby, who they think has just weaned, and they haven't at all, and it was just for whatever reason, we don't know why. So just be very very patient during this period of time, and the baby will get back on.

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