Breast Refusal

This refers to a baby who doesn’t want to breastfeed. Often this will happen suddenly after a period of trouble free breastfeeding.

The usual suspects

Developmental .Your baby may be developing better eye sight and become generally more aware of what is happening around them. This is very common around three months; some babies continue to be easily distracted at the breast indefinitely. This can be a concern for parents, but keep in mind that by this age, your baby has become very good at milking the breast and your breasts will most likely be working very efficiently so you may be able to empty a breast in under 5 mins.

Illness . It is common for babies to refuse the breast if they are coming down with a cold or are unwell in other way. It’s often the first sign that something is up.

Return of fertility or oral contraceptives. Often changes in hormone levels can change the taste of the milk and some babies don’t seem to like the taste. This is most likely to happen at ovulation or premenstrually. It can also happen when beginning on the pill. Generally, baby will get used to the tastes change.

Hot weather. Feeding patterns tend to change during hot weather. You may find that your baby will want only short feeds and will compensate for that by having them more frequently. This can be a cause for concern for some parents if they are used to long feeds.

Teething. Some babies get sore in the mouth and don’t want to feed, probably because it hurts. See Teething for natural therapy solutions for fussy teething babies.

What to do about it.

Offer the breastfeed in a less distracting environment. Find somewhere boring and quiet to breastfeed such as the bedroom. Some mothers find it helpful to sit in a rocking chair or propped up on pillows on the bed, this may help your baby relax enough to remember that its tucker time.

Breastfeed your baby in bed. Pick a couple times during the day when you are the most tired and lie down with your baby to enjoy some quiet and relaxing breastfeeding time.

Breastfeed in a sling . Distractible babies often settle down easily when they are in a sling, and the motion of your walking will further relax your baby. Most mothers find that once they discover their own unique method and place to breastfeed, you will find that your baby will eventually settle into comfortable breastfeeding and finish a feed without so much distraction.

Wait. Often breast refusal is a temporary and short lived problem, particularly if it is due to illness.

Keep offering. Offer breastfeeds as usual and express your milk if your baby is not being co-operative. You still need to empty your breasts regularly to maintain your supply for when your baby starts feeding again. This is also important so that you don’t set your self up for engorgement, blocked ducts or mastitis.