Refusing to Breastfeed

by Kristen Loschert

Refusing to Breastfeed

What to do when your baby balks at nursing
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.