Nursing Strike: Why is my Baby Refusing to Nurse?

Nursing Strike: Why is my Baby Refusing to Breastfeed?

Let’s get that baby back to the breast. With some—or a lot—of patience and persistence, you can do it! The most important thing to remember is that nursing strikes are almost always temporary. 

Why is my baby refusing to breastfeed?

It's important to remember that a nursing strike is your baby's way of communicating that something's wrong. Pinpointing the cause can be tricky, as there are many potential reasons including mouth pain from teething, an ear infection, a cold or stuffy nose, reduced milk supply or a slow letdown, changes in routine or schedule, changes in scent or taste, and more. If your baby is frustrated, stop and try again later. Remember that your breastmilk is the single most nutritious form of food for your baby. Don’t give up!

What can you do to get your baby back to breastfeeding again?

Here are some common tactics that may help get your baby back to the breast. Try these at your baby’s regular feeding time to ensure he/she is hungry.
  • Nurse in motion: Babies love movement. A sling or cloth carrier can be a great tool allowing you to wear your baby and let your baby be soothed by the movement. This may make your baby hungry.

  • Tub time: Take a warm bath with lots of skin-to-skin snuggling and no pressure to nurse.

  • Skin-to-skin: Enjoy being skin-to-skin with your baby while lounging around the house. Offer your breast, but never force it.

  • Sleep together: Give your baby easy access to the breast while sleeping.

  • Get help: Contact your local La Leche League Leader who may be able to offer support and more suggestions.

If one of these tips worked for you, then YAY! I am SO happy for you! If they didn’t work for you – don’t get discouraged. Every baby is different, and these tactics might not be what your baby needs.

Breastfeeding is hard work and your baby going on a nursing strike is definitely solidifying that. But remember, you’re stronger than this. Keep going.

Challenge is an opportunity for you to rise. You are tough as a mother.

A personal note from our Founder: "When my baby went on a nursing strike, I tried all of these common tactics and unfortunately, they didn’t work for us. I ended up going DEEP into mom forums trying to figure out a solution. I came across a comment that a mama wrote back from 2007 who found success when her husband put his hand flat up against the babies’ feet while nursing to act as a 'backboard' and allow the baby to feel more secure and have something to push up against. Of all the things I tried, this is what worked for us. Crazy, right? You just never know."



As always, if you have any concerns or questions, consult a healthcare or lactation professional.

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