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When your older baby has breast refusal

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
When your older baby has breast refusal
Breast refusal happens more than you think. I get many phone calls about this. It upsets mums, babies are not happy and it can happy to anyone.

My niece Freya decided at 9 months that she'd had enough of breast feeding. This morning I had a phone call from a mum about her 7 month old baby boy and he'd gone on breastfeeding strike this week. It just happens.

Why does it happen?

    • Menstruation and ovulation can change the taste of the breast milk
    • Pregnancy has the same effect
    • They've reached that age of independence at 6-8 months and want to choose how they are fed
    • Your supply may have dipped and they find being at the breast frustrating
    • Teething or illness
    • Dietary changes by mum

    • Who knows why?! It just happens.
Read more at:

What can you do about it?

    • Keep your supply up by expressing if you think it's hormone related - ovulation or menstruation.
    • Don't stress - easier said than done.
    • Distract bub and try to feed in a different environment or position. A breast cover to avoid distractions or a feeding necklace can distract them.
    • Express and offer breast milk in other ways - milk puddings, ice cream, icy poles etc.
    • If breast milk isn't their thing anymore because of the changed taste then move to expressed milk or formula until 12 months. Babies need breast milk or formula as the main drink until 12 months old as per NHMRC guidelines.
    • Offer plenty of water in a hard spout sippy cup or without the lid on. Yes it's messy but at least they're drinking.
    • Breastfeeding and cup feeding use the same oral skills, whereas bottles are taken differently. Best to go straight to a cup from breastfeeding.
    • Reducing solids isn't always a great option as you're likely to make them hungry and cause night waking. It depends if you as the mum don't mind night waking?

    • Keep an eye on wet nappies. Should be 5-6 very wet nappies a day.

More reading and resources

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