What strategies should I use for a nursing strike and baby refusing breast ?
A nursing strike is simply when your baby refusing breast. This can occur for a single feeding or more feedings, up to several days. Nursing strikes can be very disconcerting for mothers. It is usually not as disconcerting for babies.
You usually will not see a nursing strike in a baby who is less than six months old. If you do, it is usually short lived. These nursing strikes and baby refusing breast are generally due to sore gums or other physical ailments that are causing your baby pain. Remember that baby refusing breast and skipping a feeding are not harmful to your child typically.
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When your baby is not nursing at all, you will want to try a multipronged approach. First, it is imperative that you feed your baby. In toddler 17 months old baby refusing breast or an older baby who is eating solids, this is not as much of a concern. But if you are seeing a nursing strike in a child who is not eating solids, you should do what you can to see to
it that your child is eating.
This step is in line with another approach, which is to ensure that you are maintaining your
breast milk supply. This can mean pumping your milk to make sure your supply stays up. You can use this breast milk to feed your baby from a cup, an alternative feeder, or even a baby bottle. (Which one you choose should depend on your child’s age and nursing history.) Pumping will also help you to stay comfortable and avoid engorgement, as well as
prevent plugged ducts and mastitis.
Do what you can to get your baby back to the breast. One of the easiest things to try is to
encourage your child to nurse when he is asleep or extremely drowsy. Sometimes this is the easiest way to get a baby to nurse again. If this does not work, you can try other approaches as well.
Make sure you are available for your baby. This means both physically available to nurse when your baby is ready to nurse as well as literally able to produce your breasts quickly. Being available includes your clothes. This might be the time to wear a comfortable nursing shirt and bra. This will make breastfeeding easier, and it will provide your baby
with a near instantaneous result.
Staying close to home for a few days can also be helpful, though not necessary. This can be done over the course of a long weekend. Only stay in bed with your baby and have some down time. This is often called the forty-eight-hour cure. If that is not possible, simply be available for your baby as much as possible. Also, try carrying your child in a sling. This can help you to go about your life while keeping your baby close.
Also, try various nursing positions. Perhaps your child isn’t nursing as well as normal because
of some pain that you cannot find. It could be the place where he got a recent shot or even a bruise from an attempt to walk. Whatever the cause, it might hurt for your baby to nurse in your usual nursing position.
Some mothers also find that walking or rocking is helpful. The motion might distract a baby who is reluctant to nurse. You can also try the opposite and go for a calm, quiet, and still environment to see if that helps.
Monitoring your baby for adequate intake is something to help keep your sanity. Checking for
five to six wet diapers per day will ensure that your child is getting enough to eat. You should not starve a child so that he “gets over” a nursing strike. This will only cause more problems.
The good news is that while nursing strikes and baby refusing breast can be physically and emotionally exhausting for you and your baby, they are frequently short lived. Nevertheless, the few days to more than a week that a nursing strike lasts can seem long. You might never figure out what caused the strike. But remind yourself that this is not weaning, which babies almost never do abruptly or before a year and a half or two years of age. When in doubt about nursing strike and baby refusing breast, seek feedback and advice from those around you who are supportive of breastfeeding.
We recommend reading the article: How long should you breastfeed