7 month old refusing to nurse, could it be early weening rather than a nursing strike?

Sarah - posted on 11/21/2011 ( 30 moms have responded )

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My 7 month old has suddenly started refusing to nurse. At first she started refusing her 4pm nursing but I would be able to get her to eat between 5:30pm and 7pm before putting her down for the night. Then yesterday she only did 7 min (as opposed to her usual 10) at her 5am feeding, then 4 at her 8:45am feeding and 2 min at her 12:30 feeding then she refused the breast the rest of the day. We did give her solids at 2pm which we had been avoiding because I wanted her nursing more and she ate way more than usual and then refused to nurse again for the rest of the day.
She ate fine this morning for her 5 am feeding and we did her 2 solid feedings like normal and then at 4pm she refused again and I was able to get her to do 4 min at 5:45pm and then she refused again for the rest of the night. I decided to recreate the 5am feeding so an hour after she went to sleep I got her up and fed her in the same lighting/atmosphere that we do in the morning and she still refused.
She isn't just eating very little, she arches her back hard to get away from the boob. I've read about nursing strikes and tips to get them to eat more which don't seem to be working for us. I'm worried she might be weening rather than a nursing strike. Has anyone had a 7month old self ween? Or a similar experience with a nursing strike?

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Wendy - posted on 11/22/2011

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Could she be teething? Sometimes babies don't want to nurse as much during this time because the sucking motion hurts. If this is the case, she may go back to normal after the tooth is in. Keep trying. :-)

Crystal - posted on 12/29/2011

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When my son was 8 months old he started doing the same things. He'd always gotten distracted while nursing so it would take forever to feed him or he would be uninterested in eating because there was always something else keeping his attention. Also, my family snuck him solids earlier than I planned, so he wanted to eat real food. It was hard for me since I wanted to nurse for at least a year but if she seems like she doesn't want it, try switching to a bottle. I couldn't produce enough milk after he started weening himself so I slowly switched to formula after trying to express milk for a few months after that.

Jaime - posted on 12/19/2011

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my son just recently went thru this. actually, we may still be going thru it. see on sat he just refused the breast. he would push it away, arch his back, cry,wiggle, whatever it took for me to get that thing away. he is 7.5mths and i knew it was too early to switch to whole milk even though everyone was telling me he was just weaning himself. my daughter did ween herself at 10.5 and i mixed half and half (breast milk and whole milk) slowly in a sippy until she was 1. she did great. however with this one to just up and quit it was really depressing me. even though it's only been a few days it was making me sad :( but don't give up!! keep pumping as if she were nursing. i just went into a dark room with my son put his jammies on and prayed and told him mommy loves him. ;) i tried the pacy trick (get him sucking on that then snatched it out and stuck myslef in quick!) lol and it WORKED!! i am just hoping this lasts thru the night. i never realized what an emotional connection i am having with my kids until it was snatched from me. just don't give up! you can do it! and try not to stress bc that will mess up your supply too. good luck mom you can do it!

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2011

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I have tried everything suggested and more. Nothing has worked. She hasn't latched at all since Thanksgiving morning when she went for 2 minutes after her breakfast cereal and fruit. Today we noticed a sore under her tongue which wasn't there before. We called the nurse and they said it didn't sound like thrush since it was just one white blister on the bottom of her tongue. We tried giving her milk in a sippy cup and a regular cup and she started rejecting those after 2 days. It got to the point where the strike was so long we had to start giving a bottle. We are giving a slow flow nipple and can tell it is frustrating to her. She wants it to go faster (I have a pretty fast flow).

Its so strange to me because she will put everything in her mouth except for my nipple. I am so hopeful that having the IUD removed will fix it. I'm getting sore from pumping so much so I am worried I won't be able to keep up my supply for if she ever decides to latch again. I don't know if a SNS will work because she doesn't like to be anywhere near my breast.

Thanks for the support. This is so unexpected and heartbreaking and I'm just trying to hold out hope.

Olivia - posted on 11/30/2011

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I agree with Lise. I know you are very discourage by this. Just keep in mind the more you let it stress you the harder it will become. You have already given her already such an amazing start with breastfeeding her this far. Some moms can't and some don't even try. Just keep it up and stay positive, you have done such an amazing job so far and if you are able to nurse her again then that is wonderful. If you are not, don't let it bring you down just hold on to the fact that you feed your DD this far and that in its self is an amazing accomplishment.

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Sarah - posted on 12/02/2011

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I did actually get her to latch on to the nipple shield in the bath for a short time tonight. Mostly she was chewing and playing with the nipple shield but she did do some sucking in earnest once she figured out milk was coming out but then the shield came off in her mouth and she thought that was grand fun. I've only had the IUD out for a few hours and she already is not reacting as violently to my nipples getting near her so I'm gonna keep at it for a few days and see if she goes back. I have renewed hope but it slips away with every bottle I have to give her. Fingers Crossed!

Jane - posted on 12/02/2011

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Gosh- I hope things improve for you soon- the only bother I've had with mine nursing was just before teething through a combination of having a snuffly nose (didn't wan't to latch on as it made breathing difficult) and sensitive gums (also he was biting me a lot) once I worked out what it was then I was able to remedy it by clearing his nostrils and using teething powders/gels but until I'd worked it out it was so frustrating trying to nurse. I hope it is the IUD- perhaps it took a few days for the hormones to circulate in your system?- but it's always trial and error tring to work these things out with babies and the waiting is so tough.

Sarah - posted on 12/01/2011

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She just learned to crawl and is not into snuggling at all. Not even when she is sleepy. I have tried to just hang out with her with my top off so she can decide if she wants to nurse but if she ever even gets close accidentally she will start to fuss.
I don't think anything traumatic happened. She did bite me a few weeks before the strike started and I yelped and she laughed and bit me again. It never happened again and she kept nursing for a couple weeks after that. The last time she nursed she did pop off and stick her thumb in her mouth and I took her thumb out and that upset her so maybe that? I don't know how she will get over that if that is what upset her. I'm (maybe foolishly) hopeful that getting the IUD removed tomorrow will help but I don't know since the problem didn't start until a few days after I got the IUD.

She doesn't cuddle in the bath, bath time has always seemed to be play time for her. It doesn't make her sleepy at all like it does with a lot of babies. The doctors keep saying she has the neural development of a 1 year old and she just may be done with nursing but as lots of other moms have said, if she was weaning, she probably wouldn't be upset about it. I'm also gonna have my OB check me for signs of thrush since her doctors don't seem to be finding anything but my nipples are very sore and I am having a pain in my breasts.

It seems so odd to me that she will put the cats tail or her dads toe in her mouth but acts like my nipple is the plague. Makes me wonder it is something with my breasts.

Lise - posted on 11/30/2011

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(Hug)

What about not pushing the nursing? Just snuggling skin-to-skin? Did anything happen while nursing that may have scared her/hurt her/etc. (like once our dog jumped up on my dd while she was nursing - made her a little wary)? Will she cuddle up next to you in a warm bath/shower?

Lise - posted on 11/30/2011

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Can you try feeding your lo with something other than a bottle? My dd definitely had a bottle preference, so we stopped the bottles altogether and used an SNS (supplemental nursing system). It was basically a tube that I held on my breast; she drank from that. I had milk there but she wasn't willing to do the work to get it out. The SNS was harder than a bottle but easier than the breast, and made for a great transition. Have you tried anything suggested in here with any luck (nursing in a warm bath, offering to nurse after a bottle when you know it's just for comfort, nursing while she's sleeping, putting milk on your nipple, using a cup or syringe instead of a bottle)? I know one friend who survived 4 months until her dd finally latched...

Sarah - posted on 11/29/2011

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Well it has now been 10 days since the strike started and 6 since she has nursed at all. She got really constipated this weekend and he had to start supplementing with formula too because I wasn't pumping enough. I keep searching for reassurance that she will go back to it but I don't see many nursing strikes that last this long with positive results. I am getting the IUD removed just in case it is the issue though I really don't think it is. I keep offering and keep hoping but it is becoming very distressing to me. I feel a keen sense of loss. I was hoping I would make it to at least a year and was not prepared to have it end so soon.

Sarah - posted on 11/27/2011

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Also, since it has been so long, I have had to start supplementing with formula. She started refusing all nursings on Thursday and was getting dehydrated and constipated and I can't pump enough to cover all feedings so we are giving formula/breastmilk mix. We are trying to avoid giving it as a bottle but we caved this morning and now she is refusing it any other way but a medicine dropper. I am taking her back to the doctor tomorrow and seeing a lactation consultant as well.

Sarah - posted on 11/27/2011

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Thanks Emily, I have yet to find a single other mother that had a baby stop nursing when they got Mirena and the strike started 2 days after I had it placed so I am not convinced it is an issue but I am 7 days into the strike and desperate for a solution.

Layla, I did a lot of research before going with Mirena and also had it verified by my OB that it was safe with breastfeeding. And to clarify, all birth control is SAFE (meaning not going to harm baby) with breastfeeding but a estrogen based one will dry up your milk where as progesterone will not.

Johanna - posted on 11/27/2011

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My daughter bf and took expressed milk from a bottle when I worked. About 7 months she refused to nurse for a couple days but luckily it worked out around a time I had a week off work so I simply eliminated bottles and after a few days of frequently offering she did start to nurse again. However, at 10 months she simply refused to do it anymore. She would drink expressed milk from bottles but would not nurse. Nursing was always hard for her (weak latch/ had to use a nipple shield/ worked with lactation consultant and feeding therapist for months) and she was just old enough to know bottle were easier and that was that. I tried to force the issue for a few weeks and her and I both always ended up in tears. Finally I gave in and she took formula until her nutritionist and dr said to go ahead with cows milk at 11 months (I couldn't handle exclusively pumping). I know people say they don't self wean before a year...but she did.

Emily - posted on 11/27/2011

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Breast milk is not a blood product.. ;)

I also have a mirena. I am doubtful that it would affect nursing. I nursed successfully for two years after having it inserted. The only hormone in it is a small amount of progestins. The pills with estrogen are the ones to worry about.

Layla - posted on 11/27/2011

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I started changing my1st son over to bottle feeding at 3-4 months old as I was due to be away over night when he was 6 months. By the time he was 5 months old he was on 2 breast feeds and 4 bottles a day and then he refused to feed from me at 6 months. He screamed when I offered him the breast and I was obviously upset by this and kept offering it to him, much to no avail so when he kept screaming I finally gave up and gave him the bottle and he finished the whole feed that I had made for him! My periods had come back in to play and I decided to taste my milk and instead of it being sweet it actually tasted like blood (as it is a blood product, I wasn't too alarmed!), so I guess the change in my hormones changed the taste of my milk and he refused it from then on. My 2nd son fed until he was 19 months old but did actually go through phases of being a fussy feeder when he was noticing the world more and when teething, I found going in to my bedroom and laying on the bed in peace and quiet helped get through those times as there were less distractions, and also treating him for teething before a feed helped him to not be in pain when he suckled. Hope this helps! :-) ps should you be having an IUD when breastfeeding, I thought the mini pill was the only contraception you could take while still feeding your baby?? Might be worth getting a 2nd opinion?

Olivia - posted on 11/25/2011

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Well it sounds like you are doing wonderfully. I say every time she refuses to nurse express your milk and when you have enough give it to her like that until this passes so she still gets the great nutrients. I do not have a personal story of a strike but maybe this may help.

http://www.askdrsears.com/content/how-do...

http://www.storknet.com/cubbies/breast/A...

http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/alisa_...

Here are some stories from moms that went through the same thing:
http://www.babycenter.com/viewComments.h...

Sarah - posted on 11/25/2011

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Thank you all for your support and advice. The first thing I did was go to the doctor and he said she just seemed willful and didn't see any medical reasons. He didn't feel any more teeth coming in at all. The reason we have a feeding schedule is because she never gives hunger cues. She is the happiest baby and never asks to be fed so we do a schedule. Since the strike has begun, I have been offering every 30min to 1 hour and she is still refusing it. I always have to nurse her in a dark room because she is a distractable nurser but it usually is fine in a dark room.

She started refusing even her morning feeding yesterday and she hasn't nursed at all in 48 hours. She happily takes expressed breastmilk so it doesn't at all seem to be the taste of the milk with the hormones.

I've tried all the advice about lots of skin to skin time and she is too much on the move trying to do her own thing. I just try to hang out near her with my top off but whenever she gets near my breasts she starts to fuss.

Intellectually I know this is probably just a nursing strike but I can't truly comprehend what is going on. Do any of you have stories you can share where your baby actually came out of the nursing strike? I know 3 women who had babies that did a nursing strike and they just stopped. It would be reassuring if I could hear accounts where your baby started nursing again.

Thank you so much all of you.

Olivia - posted on 11/25/2011

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Any hormone based birth control effects your body and from that effects your milk. Mirena is hormone based (the only one that is not is the copper IUD sadly not covered by insurance that I know of) my best suggestion is to keep offering, dont force if she refuses try again after a while. Personally as breastfeeding both of my children I don't put time on the feeding.

When my first was born my midwife told me that 45 min minimum on one breast is what my baby needed. That is what I did and she ate every 2 hours like that, sometimes for more then 45 min. She is now 23 months as healthy as can be (lost all of that chunky weight she had when she started walking lol). My son now 4 months I have been doing what I can, at this moment he has doubled his birth weight and isn't as hungry as he has been since birth, but is slowly starting to get it back.

So what I am saying is having a time set to feed may not be the best thing at this time. I understand that this is how you want it--you want your daughter on a a full scheduled and if that works for your family then that is great. She will just need to get use to the new taste of your milk. I would say change your IUD to the copper one so she isn't getting hormones in your milk, but if that is not what you want or is cant work out for you then just keep offering to her. Everything is ok. As long as she is still a happy baby and is sleeping well (I don't mean all night lol cause in my opinion most children don't sleep all night till around 3-5 and if they do its not every night. Of course there are those lucky parents that their children biologically naturally start off or end up sleeping all night at an early age :D)

Your daughter is communicating with you the best way that she can so try and listen do different things, but more then likely from what I have read in your post and the comments she doesn't like the new taste of your milk. Just keep offering it to her give her a taste here and there and she will more then likely get use to it and go back to her normal feeding. I wish you the best of luck

Natalie - posted on 11/25/2011

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at that age, my daughter would only nurse in her quiet bedroom without anyone around. anytime we tried in another setting it wouldn't work. too many distractions.

Lise - posted on 11/24/2011

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if it's sudden, it's not self-weaning. weaning is a slow, gradual process.

Mia - posted on 11/24/2011

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Hi Sarah, refusing to feed can be for one of many reasons & I have known several babies who started to wean at that age. Teething can affect their feeding, as can your hormones so initially maybe the IUD has changed the taste of your milk as my son fusses when I get my period? My other son refused the breast due to his milk protein allergy. I'd suggest you go & get him checked out to rule out illness etc then try the tips to help when they are teething. Good l uck!

Anna - posted on 11/24/2011

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It is extrememly uncommon for babies under 1 to self wean. It's probably a nursing strike due to teething. Many babies lose their appetite when their teeth bother them. Make the breast readily available and keep offering it throughout the day. Trust me, she'll regain her interest soon. In the meantiime, pump the milk so that you keep up your supply.

Sarah - posted on 11/24/2011

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I'm not pregnant but I did just get an IUD on Friday. The nursing strike is getting worse. Yesterday she breastfed 3 times which was twice more than she had been doing but this morning when I went to get her for the 5 am feeding, she refused and just stuck her thumb in her mouth. I don't think she is teething. She recently got her 2 bottom teeth and nursed through that and I don't feel anything in her top gums so I don't think any more are coming in but maybe? I'm worried that the IUD could be affecting her too but I haven't found any accounts of moms having issues after getting Mirena.

Sarah - posted on 11/24/2011

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You're not pregnant are you?.......... That can really put them off there milk too

Jane - posted on 11/23/2011

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Yeah, it may be sore gums if she's teething so you could try a bit of bonjela on the gums just before nursing. Also your Health Visitor might have some ideas..

Caithlin - posted on 11/23/2011

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Make sure u offer the breast before u offer solids. My dr has had nursing strikes for what I thought would be her weaning but she always gets over them and begins to nurse like crazy! Good luck!

Emily - posted on 11/22/2011

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Definitely not weaning at 7 months. My guess is she's just trying to assert some independence and is more interested in the world around her. Also, over time, babies will become much more efficient at nursing, so they can nurse for less time, but still get the same amount out. This is actually one of the best parts of continuing to nurse :) My last nursing baby only nursed five minutes tops at a nursing session around 6 months.. this slowly decreased over time.

I would just keep offering as much as possible, and nurse on demand rather than on a schedule. Nurse more when she's sleepy.. you might also try cutting back on solids so that she'll nurse more.. breastmilk should still be the main source of her nutrition at this point.

Celeste - posted on 11/22/2011

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It still sounds like a nursing strike/distractible baby.True self weaning usually happens slowly. How long has you been trying the tips? Have you tried going into a dark room?

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