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Refusing to Breastfeed

Babies are programmed to nurse until after they turn 1, but some may abruptly stop sooner. When a 6- to 12-month-old refuses to eat, the culprit could be any kind of discomfort, from a sore throat to acid reflux, says Pat Shelly, director of the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington, Washington, DC. Even a change in routine, like sleep training or your return to work, may be a factor.

If your baby suddenly refuses to feed, don't panic. Most nursing strikes end on their own -- some within a few hours and most within three or four days. If one lasts longer than 24 hours, though, contact a lactation consultant or your pediatrician to make sure your baby gets enough to eat and drink. In the meantime, try:

Getting naked. Skin-to-skin contact with your baby will boost your oxytocin levels, making you both more relaxed, which will increase her urge to nurse.

Lying with her while she naps. A sleeping baby instinctively sucks, so she may be more willing to take your breast.

Walking around while you nurse. The movement can have a calming effect on both of you.