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Archive-name: misc-kids/breastfeeding/nursing-strike
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Last-Modified: March 1, 1993

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           Frequently Asked Questions
                            Nursing Strikes

Collection maintained by: Beth Weiss
Last updated: 1 March 93

To contribute to this collection, please send e-mail to the address
given above, and ask me to add your comments to the FAQ file on
nursing strikes.  Please try to be as concise as possible, as these FAQ
files tend to be quite long as it is.  And, unless otherwise
requested, your name and e-mail address will remain in the file, so
that interested readers may follow-up directly for more

For a list of other FAQ topics and how to get the archived discussions,
tune in to or
Copyright 1994, Beth Weiss.  Use and copying of this information are
permitted as long as (1) no fees or compensation are charged for
use, copies or access to this information, and (2) this copyright
notice is included intact.
I had a nursing strike problem when Jordan was almost 5 months old,
which we did solve, and at over 7 months, he is still nursing.  This
problem comes up fairly frequently, and so I've decided to compile a
nursing strike FAQ file to help other nursing moms who run into a
nursing strike.

There's a definite bias to which comments I've included and which I've
deleted.  I'm working on the assumption that all of the people who are
concerned about a nursing strike wish to continue nursing, and that
comments of the form "let him/her wean" will not be useful or desired.

It _is_ possible to survive a nursing strike, and resume a positive,
joyous nursing relationship.  This file is compiled in the hopes that
others' experiences and advice will help you to do so.  

If you try something that isn't included here, please send me e-mail
and let me know what it was and how it worked, so that other nursing
pairs can benefit from your experiences.

I would like to thank all of the people who have contributed to this
file.  Some replies came directly to me, some were posted, and some
were e-mail to other people trying to get through a nursing strike.

This is part of my original article, which seems to be typical of
nursing strike problems:

: Well, he didn't nurse again all morning (he usually nurses every 2
: hours, if he's awake).  Everytime I put him to the breast, he arched
: his back and started screaming.   Finally, about 2:00 pm, I got him
: to nurse by spraying milk into his mouth until he latched on.
Summary of really good ideas:
--Nurse in a quiet darkened place.
--Nurse when the baby is sleepy.
--If the baby gets to excited or distressed, STOP nursing and try
  again later.
--If possible, get dad or someone else to calm the baby; mom is 
  likely to be too upset herself to do much calming.
--Try and get a letdown before putting the baby to the breast.
--Don't give bottles.  Depending on your situation, either eliminate
  that completely, don't get them at home, or don't have mom give
--Try to increase your milk supply by resting and eating well.
--Be sure you don't smell strange to the baby (new soap, perfume,
  detergent, etc.)
--Don't try to nurse right after exercising (apparently it makes the
  milk taste funny.)
--If you do end up giving the baby a bottle, pump for each missed
  feeding to keep your supply up.
--Evaluate your diet to see if you're eating something that the baby
  doesn't like.
--If the baby might be teething, give infant Tylenol 30 minutes before
  nursing, or apply Orajel 10-15 minutes before nursing.
Wow!  Jordan is 5 months old already?  Where does the time go?
Anyway, if it's any consolation, I think almost everyone goes
through a stage like this.  With Dylan, it was clearly tied to
one of the following:  teething, restlessness--wanting to play or
look around rather than nurse even if he was hungry (they often
don't have any common sense at this age :-0), or bad tasting milk.
All I can advise is to keep with it, and pump if necessary, to keep
up your supply.  Also, if you think it might be a problem with a
late letdown on your part, perhaps you could get yourself
"stimulated" to the point where you are on the verge of a letdown as
soon as you put Jordan to your breast?  Good luck!

P.S.  If I had it to do all over again, I would have kept Dylan on
breastmilk exclusively until well past 6 months.  I caved into peer
pressure (so unlike me!) and started him on rice cereal (90%
breastmilk) at 5.5 months.  Even though he was ready
developmentally, he was very happy with just breastmilk and from
everything I've read since, if you're already feeding your baby the
perfect food, why muck around?  Anyway, just my unsolicited $0.02!
I think the teething theory is very likely.  Emily teethed early (first
tooth at 3 months), and it was difficult as she couldn't yet hold
anything to get to her mouth to relieve her soreness.  She often had
difficulty nursing while she was teething.  Apparently, the pressure
created brings more blood flow to the area and causes pain.

Cold helped Emily.  We would wrap an ice cube in a wash cloth and she
would suck on it.  If we had her do this prior to nursing, it often
seemed to help.

If it's any consolation, the first teeth were the worst, then it seemed
to get better.

The thing that makes me think of teething in your case is the intermittent
nature of it - it will hurt the baby for a while, and then be better.

I hope this helps, and that your problem is short-lived.  I know how
frustrating it can be.  Nursing problems would leave Emily and I BOTH
in tears.  But, here she is at 20 months, still nursing! (just twice/day

I'm not an expert, but I did nurse my two babies, for 14 months and 9 months
respectively.  Your situation sounds really frustrating, and I KNOW how
upsetting it can be when your baby seems hungry but screams instead of
eating.  It's horrible, and I believe that it's especially excruciating
for the mother because of hormones.  Be assured that NOBODY else reacts
the way you do.  I guess that's Nature's way of making sure mothers never
abandon their babies.

Anyway, when my babies screamed and arched their backs, it was frequently
because they were tired.  Could this be a problem for your baby?  Growth
spurts can cause extra tiredness for a few days now and then.  Having the
baby checked for ear infection was also a good idea.  Unfortunately, the
infection can't always be detected the first time the doctor looks.  I
guess it has to get a bit worse before it really looks red in there :-(.
Once I took my baby to the doctor three times before the infection was
visible - then it was really bad. :-(((

Around 4-5 months of age, babies tend to go through a major change in
feeding habit, and nursing breasts go through a major change in letdown
response.  The change in my babies involved eating less often, wanting
"real food" (rice cereal, fruit, etc - they really wanted it!!!!  This
was indicated by pointing and reaching at our food, grabbing at our
forks, watching hungrily when we ate, and accepting with gusto any baby
mush that was offered.), and especially not being able to nurse in
"public".  They would have a bit of trouble settling down to nurse even
in a quiet, dark room, but if there were people or noise forget it.
Didn't matter how hungry.

The change in nursing breasts was pretty subtle, but at about this time,
I remember that I was less aware of the letdown response, and my breasts
would not get real firm as they used to when they were full.  I still had
plenty of milk, but it just felt different.  So just because you don't
sense a strong letdown sometimes, it may actually be happening anyway.  
Neither of my babies ever cared for bottles much, they preferred the
real thing, so I kept nursing the first until he weaned himself at
14 months, and the second until I weaned him (so that I could take medicine
for migraines) at 9 months.

Good luck.  I'm sure things will improve soon and you'll settle into a
new routine.
She might try nursing him when he's sleepy, or even letting him go to
sleep, and then rousing him just enough to nurse.

Good Luck.  (Has she  tried calling her local La Leche League leader?)
 In addition to the resources of the net, you should probably talk
to your local chapter of La Leche League.  They can give good info, and
maybe even put you in touch with someone who has gone through the same
The number for LLL is probably a home number.  At least, that's how it
works here.

I have a feeling they may recommend trying to get rid of bottles all
together.  He could take his milk from a cup, and that way if he wanted
to suck, he'd need to rely on you.

I wouldn't feel too bad about his not wanting to nurse during the day. 
At least, he still wants you in the morning, and for comfort.  And a little
breastmilk is still better than none.

I hope everything works out for you -- I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
Sounds to me like teeth.   Or it be an ear infection;  has he had a
cold lately?  Whatever it is, it was probably exacerbated by your
completely understandable reaction to his biting.  Actually, the fact
that he bit you makes the teething diagnosis more likely.  Anyway, regardless
of the problem, what you need is a solution to help him get over the
nursing strike.

It's unlikely he's ready to wean at this
young age, and it sounds like you're not ready either.  The standard
advice for nursing strikes is to try to nurse the baby when he's
sleepy;  also carrying him around the house in nursing position (if
you're strong enough to do this).  Pumping when he refuses would
probably help too, to make sure that when he's ready to nurse again,
there is some nice yummy milk for him.

If you are comfortable with it, this would also be a good time to call
La Leche.  They have an 800 number (1-800-LA-LECHE) that will refer
you to someone local.  Nursing strikes are something that La Leche
leaders are experienced at dealing with.  (I'm not a La Leche member,
but they have helped me with some nursing problems.)
I don't know if you remember my desperate query of a couple of months
ago, when Isabel was about your son's age. She was absolutely refusing
to nurse (from a bottle, in her case) and I attributed it to teething.
I got great responses, but it turns out she wasn't teething - she's
now almost 8 mos. old without a tooth in sight!

So, what's the problem. We don't really know - but it sounds very
similar to yours. She sometimes gets through 24 hours on as little as
8 or 9 oz. of formula, which is about half of what she "should" be
drinking.  We've tried three different formulas, those silly straws
that fit inside the bottle, several kinds of nipples, feeding her in a
quiet place, distracting her, holding her, letting her hold the bottle
herself, etc etc etc.

FINALLY we've accepted, after many trips to the MD where we were
assured that her ears are fine (did you check this- refusal to nurse
can be a symptom of ear infection) and that she is nowhere near
dehydrated, that this is just Isabel, and we've relaxed about it. Now,
some days she hardly drinks, and some days she drinks 24 oz or so (a
LOT for her) and we're all much happier.

I'd advise making sure nothing is physically wrong, and then just
letting him call the shots.

YMMV, and I *know* - this can make you absolutely crazy!


I would  keep at it, but ... I would not give him bottles. I'd make sure
my supply was up (fluids, rest, pumpin) and attempt to nurse him at
normal intervals in peaceful, out of the way environments. I went
through something like this and I remember how upsetting it was. I
started to nurse her in her room. with semi-darkenned lights, and
sometimes music. She always had nusings that she enjoyed so it was never
a total strike. In retrospect I think she was going thru a phase of
being highly interested in whatever was going on. We nused until she was
almost 2.



Hiya :-)

   sure he was hungry.  Since then his refusals have become more frequent and
   adamant, and he has refused multiple feedings at different times of the day.
   The only feeding he has never refused is his morning feeding, which he still
   takes eagerly.

Robin isn't quite as bad, but it's been bad. Everyone has been looking
at him for at least 2 months, and says 'teething'. I've found that I
can hold him upright and rock him to almost asleep, then move him to
the breast when he's really almost asleep and he'll nurse. He doesn't
get any bottles, although he will drink water from a bottle or cup. I
don't offer it very often, but if I'm having one, he wants some.

   Okay, so here are a few theories that have been suggested to me by various
   lactation consultants and friends:
	   1.  He's become accustomed to the bottle (getting them at the
	       sitter's) and has decided he likes the bottle better.


	   2.  He's teething.  (If this is true, why does he still like
	       his morning nursing?)

Teeth seem to hurt less in the morning. (I don't know why!)  Why does
Robin nurse hungrily when he's almost asleep? Have you tried putting
teething gel into his mouth a little while before trying to nurse.

	   3.  He's more interested in looking around.  (Well, I've tried

That's also true for Robin.

	   4.  I gave him a deep, psychological wound by crying out in pain when
	       he bit my nipple a week ago (which was the second time in probably

Also possible, if so, he'll get over it, if nursing doesn't become an
unpleasant battle.

	   5.  Problems with my supply.  He knows he has to work too hard
	       to get too little from the breast, and he's decided it's not

Hmm. Keep drinking those fluids. I can't tell what your supply is like
from here :-)

	   6.  He's decided to wean himself from the breast.  (Isn't this a 
	       bit young?)

I think it's a bit young.

I don't have any other ideas, sounds like a list I'd make up. Robin
was away from me for 7 hours the other day (first time, but it was
*important* for me to attend a meeting w/o him). He ate 1.5 jars of
babyfood (we never feed him babyfood), acted ok, even seemed to nurse
(my friend said she got letdown, although she's nursing a toddler and
preschooler). But he did NOT wet his diaper the whole time he was
there. He also hadn't nursed for at least 2 hours before we got there
(he probably felt my stress).  I was certainly worried about him.

Good luck, stick to it, try and relax. Katherine went to nursing only
once a day or sometimes twice and I kept my milk. If/when he starts to
nurse more, your supply will go back up.


I hope things have gotten better.  If not, the Womanly Art has a
section on nursing strikes ( it sounds like this is sort of a
nursing strike).  You might try calling your local LLL leader too.
They have lots of experience dealing with nursing strikes.

>The only feeding he has never refused is his morning feeding, which he still
>takes eagerly.
>This has gotten ugly.  
I would suggest concentrating on those feedings that are enjoyable
to both.  Try to get nursing back to a special mother-son time.

>Okay, so here are a few theories that have been suggested to me by various
>lactation consultants and friends:
>	1.  He's become accustomed to the bottle (getting them at the
>	    sitter's) and has decided he likes the bottle better.
>	2.  He's teething.  (If this is true, why does he still like
>	    his morning nursing?)
>	3.  He's more interested in looking around.  (Well, I've tried
>	    nursing him in all sorts of BORING situations.  For one thing,
>	    he always seems to be interested in looking at *some*thing--
>	    which is a very endearing trait, usually.  For another, I would
>	    think that at some point he would be so hungry that he would
>	    choose eating over looking....)  Even if this is the case,
>	    there must be a way to get him to eat!
>	4.  I gave him a deep, psychological wound by crying out in pain when
>	    he bit my nipple a week ago (which was the second time in probably
>	    30 seconds).  (In my defense, I didn't *do*
>	    anything--didn't even *move*. I didn't scold, didn't yell.  Just
>	    gave a loud, high-pitched "OUCH!")  He hasn't bitten me since,
>	    though.
>	5.  Problems with my supply.  He knows he has to work too hard
>	    to get too little from the breast, and he's decided it's not
>	    worth it.  (I think I *am* having problems with my supply,
>	    especially in the evenings--but his refusal to nurse isn't
>	    helping it any!)
>	6.  He's decided to wean himself from the breast.  (Isn't this a 
>	    bit young?)

YES.  The bottles might be easier, but it's better for him to

>Having said all this, I have to add that he did nurse from me last night--
>but, he was tired, so maybe he didn't feel like fighting me then.  (He fell
>asleep nursing.)

That's encouraging!
>Please, if you have experience with this sort of situation, 

When my daughter was nine months, I had to go to mandatory training
that took 7 weeks.  When I got back, I went about the task of
re-introducing her to the breast.  It took a long time, and we
continued to supplement with bottles up to 16 months, but I believe
it was worth it (and I'll bet she does too!  Although I do believe
child-led weaning is best, I just couldn't handle it while I was
pregnant.  So my daughter reluctantly gave up nursing.)


My first baby weaned herself at 3 months.  She much prefered the bottle.
Since it was what she wanted, I weaned her then.  I missed it, but
the antibody protection was gone then and I couldn't see forcing the
baby to nurse for MY benefit when she clearly didn't want to.

Baby number two was also weaned at 3 months because I went back to work then.
I noticed that the nanny feeds him much less formula than I (he's 8 months
now).  In fact, she stopped giving him bottles at all until I noticed and
told her that it was important.  Still, he drinks much less for her than
for me.  Brian is very aware of the world now.  I take him to his room
and feed him where it's quiet and dark.  John watches Laura.  However, the
nanny feeds him downstairs with all the noise/distractions of an active
household.  He gets too interested and drinks very little.  Perhaps
your little one is having trouble taking his bottle with all the
distractions around.  Also, at 6 months my babies were eating a lot
of solids and aren't really that hungry for their formula.
Finally, the sitter may be offering the bottle too soon after/before
the solid meals and they may not be hungry yet.  Allow at least an
hour between a solid meal and the bottle.

Just some hints,


In article <> you write:
>My problem is this:  A couple of weeks ago Sam began occasionally refusing to
>nurse.  At first it was just with the late-night feeding--although I was pretty
>sure he was hungry.  Since then his refusals have become more frequent and
>adamant, and he has refused multiple feedings at different times of the day.
>The only feeding he has never refused is his morning feeding, which he still
>takes eagerly.

Something else you might want to check out as a that he
might have an infection.  With Lea, (now 8 months) she would start
crying at dinnertime (solids) and then refuse her bottle.  Turned out to
be an ear infection.

Also, I stopped nursing her at 5 months, because it just go to be such
a hassle - too trying for both us.  We started to regularly give her a bottle 
a day prepare her for daycare.  She started to prefer
the bottle and would sometimes put up a fight...arching her back ..etc.
Also, she loved to look around and didn't like that she couldn't see
anything when nursing. From 3-5 months, I would put a picture on a pillow
by my back ...which gave her something to stare at when she nursed.  This
helped, but together with the bottle fight, and the "likes the left side
better than the right",  was just too much.


In you write:

>I am once again calling upon the net wisdom for suggestions.  Certainly someone
>out there has gone through this and dealt with it....

Hi Sam's mom for almost 6 months

It so happens that my Ramonte weaned himself from my breast at six
months.  I did not force him to make this decision.  I believe he
preferred drinking from the bottle, so I don't think it is too soon.  

My bond with my son is very strong and he is about 2 1/2.  I think you
may somewhat hurt your bond by forcing him.  He is starting to be
independent and you have to accept it. 


Hi Coni:

My daughter gave up nursing the same time Sam seems to be doing.  She also used
the same tactics which he seems to have adopted.  Alex did it over the course
of 2 months.

Since I did not express my milk for her daytime feeding, she used formula and
because of that I only nursed her 3 times a day, morning, after work and night.
She gave up the after work nursing almost immediately, then the morning feeding
and finally the night time feeding.

At 4 months of age, Alex was cared for at home by my sister, at 5 months, I
cared for her while we settled in our new house in Ca (we were from Pa) and at
6 months she started day care.  So I don't think that changing providers had
anything to do with it.

Alex also started to crawl at 6.5 months, pulled up at 7.5 months, cruised at 
8.5 months and walked at 9.5 months.  My husband and I believe that nursing was
too confining for her.

I didn't fight her about the nursing issue because 
	1) She took anywhere from 24 to 32 oz of formula a day.
	2) She took 8 oz of juice a day
	3) Since I work full time, I didn't want to spend a majority of whatever
	    time I had left with her getting frustrated with her and vice versa.

I felt very rejected, I wasn't ready to give up nursing, but I respected her

I am sorry I have no advice for you as to how to make Sam take to nursing again,
but I sympathize with you and wanted to let you know that it is not uncommon.


Well, I'm just guessing, but maybe you're eating some type of food that's 
passing it's flavor into your breast milk and he doesn't like it.  That would
only be a possible explanation if the bottles you give him are of formula 
rather than breast milk.  I didn't pick that up from your post.  

I know when I began to breast feed my daughter, the hospital personnel told me
to try to avoid excesses of garlic, since a lot of babies don't like it and it
passes into the breast milk easily, and to avoid "high-allergy" foods like 
strawberries and tomatoes, since apparently some babies are very sensitive to 
these substances in breast milk.  

Another stab in the dark might be a new perfume or laundry detergent?  I know
there are some scents that just turn me right off and almost choke me.  I 
imagine babies might react in the same way at times.  

Again, these are just wild guesses but I hope it might help you and Sam out.


Hi Coni,

  Oh, I do know how you feel!  My daughter Christine, 9 mo, went thought
  the same stage.  She started to fight me on and off from 3 mo to 8 mo.
  Is was so frustrating.  I don't know what finally cured it.  Maybe
  it's just she's older now and needs to eat more so she has a better
  attitude.  Already an attitude problem ;-) ?

  Up util this month, Christine only took 2 4oz bottles of breastmilk
  while I'm at work.  My Mom who takes care of her during the day
  would, sometimes, even have trouble getting her finish that.
  She definitely has a small appitite.  My ped told me not to worry
  since her weight is 80% tile.  She was taking about 20-23oz of
  breastmilk per day and he said that's fine.  He said his minimum
  requirement is 16oz per day.

  Do you know if you are having let-down trouble?  I noticed my let-down
  takes a lot longer now than when Christine was first born.  It used
  to be instantaneous, now it can takes up to a minute or more.  Some-
  times what Christine would do is she would eagerly suck away, finding
  nothing, then start to get fussy or start to bite - ouch!  So what
  I did was to get my let-down going first before I nurse her.  This
  requires someone else holding your baby while you go to your room,
  relax and stimulate your nipple.  I have more info on let-down problem
  if you need them.

  I would also try to nurse Christine while she's asleep.  She would
  fight me less then.

  If your baby likes cereal, then try to mix it with breastmilk to get
  more nutrients into him.

  You said your baby is 6 mo so have you gotten your 1st period yet?
  I didn't get mine until Christine was 8 mo and I notice my supply
  did drop after that.

  Other than that, just hang in there I guess.  I know how frustrating
  this can be.  I've been there.  I was ready to give up breast-feeding!
  I'm glad I didn't as Christine eventually grew out of it (knock on

  Hope this helps.  Let me know if you need more info.

Good luck,

My son went on a nursing strike once - no where near as severe as
yours, though, so I don't know if this will help.

I,like you, was pumping twice a day and my son was getting two
bottles a day.  I figured I'd try to make nursing as easy for
him as the bottle is.  So, as soon as I could get him latched
on, I'd start squeezing my breast (as if I were hand-expressing.)

I'll never know if this helped end the nursing strike or if it
just ended of its own accord.


Maybe teething.  I think babies suck less hard to get
milk from a bottle.  Also, I think babies suck less
hard when there is more milk in the breast -- like
first thing in the morning.  Babies *can* remember
associatively too.  So, once he's had a bad experience
he will remember it when the circumstances are similar.

Also an ear infection (which may not have a fever)
can have the same symptoms.  

Good Luck,


I saw your message about nursing on My son (Felix) did
much the same thing, though a bit younger. He refused to nurse, 
yet would accept bottles. It was fairly obvious (at least in his 
case), that he found the bottle a good deal easier. Like your 
child, he was quite insistent about refusing (they learn how to 
make their opinions felt very young!). The problem solved itself 
as the reduced consumption caused reduced output, until Camilla 
dried up. Then he went over to 100% bottles. It did him no harm, I 
can assure you, he is now nearly 3, big, alarmingly bright and 
very affectionate. 

Our opinion was that he did it purely because the bottle was 
signigicantly easier.

PS. don't worry about the slightly odd host name, fear is this 
machine (as in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"), and demon is 
Demon Internet Services, a commercial Internet access point. A 
slightly unfortunate conjunction! 



Okay, it's me (Coni) writing again.  I glanced at some of these as I was
editing out headers, and, now with hindsight, my recommendation would be to
pay particular attention to the response that refers to "Robin."  (The one
that says that her son will nurse when almost asleep.)  Now that I think about
it, Sam is this way even now, with bottles, in the evenings.  We have the most
luck getting him to take any significant amount from a bottle when we have him
almost asleep.  I wish I'd *really* tried this when Sam was nursing--but I was
so worried about my supply, and knew I couldn't keep it up if Sam didn't nurse
soon after I got home (since my days away from him are extra-long due to a
lengthy commute).  Perhaps this method will help you over this difficult

I also wanted to mention that I did finally get through to LLL when I was going
through my situation.  They did tell me to *not* offer Sam a bottle in lieu of
nursing (I assume they meant only when I was there to nurse, and not during
daycare).  They told me that if I was concerned about his fluid intake, to offer
him a cup to drink from when he refuses to nurse, so that if he wanted to suck
the only thing he'd have to suck on would be me.  This sounded rather harsh to
me, but it may work for you.  Just wanted you to know.

I included all responses for sake of completeness, but please don't be offended
by the response that implies that mothers who want to continue nursing despite
their baby's refusals are selfish (or whatever it implies).  YOu may have even
seen it in your past reading of the net.

Good luck.


Maybe the milk tastes different from before Thanksgiving. Also, maybe he's not
latching on correctly, or maybe your nipple is clogged or partially clogged.

The taste problem seems the most likely, but it also could be that he's getting
lazy & doesn't want to for the milk when he knows he doesn't have to.
This might mean considering weaning him, but if that's not acceptable, try
putting formula in the bottles for a day or two, so he realizes Mommy tastes
better, even if she means more work. (my son took quite awhile to accept

I hope this helps, keep us posted.

I had a similar problem with my son when teething started.  I rubbed
oragel on his gums before nursing and that worked most of the time.
There was only one other time that this happened, I finally gave him
a little from a bottle and then he nursed just fine.  You do not
mention if he is getting solids or not.  When we started our child
on solids he nursing pattern changed.  He wanted to eat not drink.


I went through that with Melissa when she was about 4 mos. (She's
4 yrs old now).  Have you been eating anything different ?  I
had eaten some spicy food & garlic that the tastes of got into the
milk & bothered Melissa.  Does he have a cold or sore throat ?
Is he taking the bottle OK ?  How long has he been doing this ?
When Megan (now 14 mos) did this it was because she just didn't
want to nurse anymore.  I tried for over a week & finally had to
wean her.  Have you tried giving him a bit of baby food ?  sometimes
they need something solid.  I know when Megan is hungry she wants
real food first, then milk.  When we started her on solids (around
4 mos) she would want to eat first... then nurse about 1/2 hr later.
When they get to the point where they need more than just milk, they
will start waking up at wierd times & get 'fussy'.  Have you tried
a bit of rice cereal or some friut ?  Might make all the difference
to have a bit of solid stuff to tide him over ?


On the off chance that you and the LLL leader haven't already ruled
these out:
Anything about you that smells different--new bath soap, deoderant,
anything, even if it doesn't seem different to you?  Kate went through
a phase where she hated the smell of Vitabath and there was nothing to
do but go out and work up a sweat to make me smell like mommy again
(sigh....and I was getting tired of smelling like sweat and sour milk
:-) )
Did the doctor look inside his mouth?  Thrush, coxsackie virus (though
this usually comes with a fever) or a canker sore can make nursing
more painful.  There's something, I don't know what it's called, that
makes the roof of the mouth pretty tender (happens to me every few
years) and I can imagine taking the breast under those circumstances,
would be painful.  
It's not surprising that he would take a bottle--my impression is that
it's a different style of sucking and the nipple doesn't flatten out
nearly as much as the breast does.  (I saw a picture once of how the
breast looks when it's inside of a babies mouth--almost
frightening--it looked more like a tongue, it was so flat)

My guess is that, if he'll nurse during the night when he's sleepy,
that it's something that is moderately uncomfortable--enough so that
he's aware of it when he's awake, but not when he's been sleeping.

I just remembered one other think that caused this reaction in
Kate--when I had been out for the evening and my clothes and hair
smelled of cigarette smoke.  She hated that smell so much she would
cry whenever a smoker held her.  The only thing I could do was shower
(no Vitabath) and wash my hair and change clothes--after that she
nursed happily.


If the problems have just started with your antibiotics
(sorry I couldn't tell from the post), you might taste
your milk.  It could be the taste is a little off & Jordan
won't eat it until he's really hungry.

He's getting to be about 5 months old, right?  A lot of
babies decide they really don't like nursing about that
age.  If there is some minor problem, his age may make it
more of a major problem.  (So far as I know, the age problem
really doesn't get much better.)

If its teething pain, you can rub a little oragel on his
gums & see if he sucks better afterwards.  I would also
expect teething pain to get worse before it gets better,
so if he starts acting up with a bottle too, teething is
a candidate explaination.

Also, babies have associative memories.  That is, when the
circumstances are similar, the baby will remember an association
-- particularly pain or other emotion.  So one bad experience
can have after affects for some time.  Changing things associated
with the bad experience (like for example, the way you smell)
may help.

I remember similar episodes with Sabrina.  Melinda is such a
sunny tempered baby that she's never done the nursing
refusal.  If she isn't interested in nursing, she's really
just not all that interested in eating (anything or way) just
then.  (A great baby or what? :) )  Anyway, my recent experience
isn't too much help.


You wrote:
   ...What do I do?  Is there a medical thing the doctor should have looked
   for and didn't?  She didn't know much about nursing. (military clinic)
   Could teething be causing him pain when he sucks from the breast and
   not the bottle?  If so, what should I do about it?  I'd really
   appreciate any suggestions.  I talked to a LLL leader, and she didn't
   really have any ideas that seemed applicable.

This sounds EXACTLY like what happened to Coni Gehler! She eventually 
gave up, and was very upset about it. I hope things will go better for 
you. She always gave up and let Sam have a bottle.

If it's teething, try one of those local anesthetic gels, such as Baby 
Anbesol. It takes only a tiny amount to releive pain almost instantly. 
Last night, Will got upset as he started to nurse, and the Anbesol did 
the job. It would be great if this was the problem. Tylenol helps, too,
but takes longer. It would be worth giving him tylenol fifteen minutes 
before nursing as a sort of general pain test, in case it's something 
POSITION, IF POSSIBLE (oops, drat that capslock key).

Do you need to use the pump to get a letdown? I always get a letdown 
before I start pumping, because that makes pumping go better for me. 
Not that my letdown is anything spectacular--friends warned me about 
milk shooting out 12", and all I ever got was a *slow* trickle. (I was 
a little diappointed!) I have Alice Wang's letdown file, but surely I've 
sent that to you before.

What I think is that the bottle should require more struggle to use. I've
heard that you can buy a "blind" rubber nipple and put an extra-small 
hole into it yourself. It's terrible if the baby decides he prefers the 
bottle because it's easier. This is just an idea, though, I don't know 
what the "pros" would say.

Has your sinus infection affected your milk supply?

As I write, 7.5 month old Will is snoozing and nursing at the same time.

I hope this nursing strike thing gets cleared up soon.


My son is 6 1/2 months old now.  I breastfeed for 5 months
exclusively, then started back to work.  I had trouble pumping enough
milk at work to Kevin the next day, so after about a week started
supplementing with formula during the day and breastfed in the
mornings and evenings (I got about 1 bottle for the day, and sent two
bottles of formula).  I quit pumping after about a week and started
nursing in the morning and evening, then to once a day.  Over
Thanksgiving, I had to quit nursing altogether (I was soooo sick with
the flu I couldn't have managed!).  It was my plan to quit that
weekend anyway.

But, on to your question.  Kevin seemed to do very similar things as
your son when I tried to nurse.  He wasn't interested, screamed
loudly, acted as though this was the worse torture in life.  I felt so
bad, and I know my husband waited as long as he could to comment
("Seems like he doesn't want to nurse - notice how fussy he gets?"
Like I didn't notice....).  I didn't offer him a bottle at those
times.  But as you know, if they don't eat then, they wake up in the
middle of the night hungry.  Kevin was happiest nursing first thing in
the morning.  I think he was too hungry and is very mellow when he
first wakes up to be bothered of the source.

I had feelings like I was starving him, that I couldn't produce enough
milk to feed my baby, etc.  But I didn't dwell on it.  I think he was
going through one of those nursing strikes I had read about and tried
not to take it too personally.

He is on formula 100% now.  I couldn't handle the pumping at work,
wasn't having letdown, was tired and just try to feel happy that he
was 100% breastfed for 5 months, then partially til 6 months old.  I
am somewhat getting used to the smell of formula (yuck!) but wish my
situation was such that I could have stayed home till Kevin was 1YO
and breastfeed and that he would cooperate.

I hope all works well for you.  My sister-in-law nursed her daughter
for over 1 year, and my niece has such a nipple fetish!  She asks
about your nipples, are they big, etc.  It is cute to a point, but I'm
glad I don't have to deal with that.

Good luck.  Hang in there if you are still planning on breastfeeding.
I wish I could have, but I think Kevin is happy and healthy and I can
actually relax about it now.  Guess it's time to start that diet
(breastfeeding was such a good excuse - I NEED all those extra
calories, not safe to lose a bunch of weight - stuff stored up in
those fat cells can be transferred to breastmilk..)  Bummer.

I have a few suggestions.  One is teething.  Doug would get fussy when he
was teething and the sucking seemed to make the pain worse.  Another is that
he jsutisn't hungry.  Maybe he is going through a "slow" spurt--is he eating
more solids now?  Of course, it could be something you ate, but I never
noticed that anything I ate bothered Doug.

I guess my main advice would be the standard, if he is still growing well
and is otherwise happy then don't worry, he'll eat when hungry.  If you have
checked for an ear infection then there is probably nothing medically wrong.
Someone will probably send you advice about nursing strikes, I don't know
much about that but the main advice seems to be keep trying and wait it out.

I'm sure it's frustrating to not know what is going on.  Doug at 15 mos
still can't tell us what is bothering him, I wonder what they think of us
big dumbies.


I'm not sure that this is your problem, but at about 5 months I started
having trouble with Sarah because she preferred the faster flow rate of a
bottle (ie. she didn't want to nurse because it was too slow). It coincided
with me starting to get a reduced supply - after 5 months I could never
pump enough and had to start giving supplementary bottle. Of course this was
the beginning of the end and I dried up completely at about 8 months.

P.S. Of course, your problem could be a combination of several factors - one
of which might be that Jordan is getting frustrated with the slower rate
of breast feeding.
It may be a variety of reasons:
- as one poster mentioned, it may be because its easier to get milk
from a bottle than breast. At the breast, he'd have to suck till
letdown. It may be best if you institute "no bottles" at home.
- too hungry; impatient; or not so hungry, not patient enough to suck
- too many distractions
- too hot - when you have a fever
- does he have a cold? It may be the positioning caused him
congestion. When my baby had a cold, she prefer lying on one side more
than another. So nursing the other side is quite difficult.
- it may be teething. Since with bottle, he gets milk right away, he
may not mind the aching as much.

It may be just one of the phases he goes through. When my baby was
about 6 months, she went through a stage where she's very easily
distracted and doesn't want to nurse. Same thing - arched back,
screaming when I try to nurse. I stop, wait, go to a darkened room and
try. It went on for a couple of weeks, then went away. There was a
couple of days when she'd refuse to nurse, and I just give her water
till she's hungry enough to suck till letdown.

Another thing that helps is to nurse just when they're waking up,
or while they are sleeping.

What to do? Keep your patience. Don't offer the bottle at home and
offer water from a cup when he refuses to nurse. Can't really do much
if he's teething. See to his comfort if he's congested.
Don't worry. This too shall pass.

Could very well be teething ... Nursing does cause pain when a
baby is teething - might try sticking your finger in there and
seeing if those little gums are tender.  Good Luck!

I am not an expert, and I hope you will get more expert advice too.
More over, I did not pump, or rather failed in pumping, and gave
it up, so my son got formula in bottles when he was in day-care.
However, it seems to me from reading your post(s), that you may
want to try to stop the pumping. For one thing it sounds pretty
dificult (you get up at 4am to pump?). I had pretty good success
with nursing when we were together and formula when we were apart.
Since he is getting bottles anyway it seems that no confusion should
occur and it will just be easier on you, which may help you deal with
the situation.
Having just gotten over such a crisis with Awate (just seven months
old), I can sympathize with you.  It was hard to resolve.  From
everything I've been able to gather (LLL, Ped, books, etc.), it
seems that at around six months (though your Jordan is not quite
5 yet...), the let-down reflex goes through some changes.  It becomes
harder for the milk to let's a kind of natural way to
begin to wean the infant.  I used to be able to pump 6-7 ounces in
15 minutes or so at work, now it takes about 15 minutes or so for 
the let-down to get going.  What finally resolved it for us was
persistence!  I think I agree with the poster who said you might
consider a no-bottle-at-home trial.  When I'm home, Awate gets
the breast and that is it.  If he isn't ready to nurse, I try after
a while.  

Some random observations:  

a) sometimes the trouble when Awate refused the breast was due
to the fact that he wanted to play.  He just wanted to be up
and to be tickled or sung to, etc., even though I was convinced
that he was hungry and ready to nurse.  So, at such times,
I started to play with him at kept trying till 
he was ready to nurse again.  It was also at this time that
he started waking up again in the night to nurse.  (I decided
that that was a small price to pay for continued nursing eventhough
his sleeping upwards of eight hours a night was a very NEW behavior.)  He
still wakes in the night and is eager to nurse.

b) my troubles with Awate refusing the breast started also on
Thanksgiving day (I'm sure it's just a cooincidence, right?), 
and it was on that day that he bit me twice and seemed quite
unsure of nursing again.  Has Jordan bitten you recently?
Naturally I considered this a nursing strike and just kept
trying by offering him the breast.

There is one difference in my experience and yours.  Awate
had started on cereal and baby food when all this happened. So
I hope that some of this can still be of some use to you.

It has taken all this time just to get back to normal schedule.
Though schedule in my house is when Awate is ready to nurse.
So be patient and don't give up. 

5 months is still too young for weaning, esp. if you want to continue
breastfeeding. I went through a similar thing with my baby, so I know
how frustrating it can be. There were moments I was really tempted to
wean her... So, if you want more encouragement, I'm here :).

What I did:
- nurse in a very dark, cool room
- nurse when she's half asleep
- think tender thoughts before putting her on my breast (faster
- have my husband take her away and then bring her back a few minutes
  later while I relax in bed :).
- a couple of times I let her cry and arch her back, etc, but kept her
  in my arms. When she's cried hard and started to calm down, I
  offered her the breast. It worked. But I felt guilty about the use
  of "force". [I think it worked 'cos she'd sucked till almost
  letdown, then gave up; when she sucked again, she gets the milk]

Actually, I think it may be a combination of teething and a growing
interest in the surroundings and being mobile. She doesn't have
nursing problems while teething the other teeth (I suppose you'll be
happy to know that, though your baby may be different; It makes sense
for the erupting front teeth to cause problems during nursing, 'cos
that the part for suction and contact.)

For teething, give cold stuff (not frozen) for him to chew on to numb
his gum. I never tried medication. Its ok for him to nurse less during
this period. He can make up for it later.

I am very glad I didn't give up. It has made travelling with her so
much easier. I feel sooo close to her during nursing sessions.
So hang in there; patience, this too shall pass :).
My husband noticed your article and brought it home for me.  I am a
certified lactation specialist with three kids of my own.  The youngest
is just over a year and I experienced a similar problem with him when
he was 5 months old.  In my case, after careful elimination of other
possibilities, I realized that the relief bottles he received a few
times a week were undermining our nursing relationship.

I can appreciate your distress since I was absolutely not ready to
give up nursing yet.  It was a very emotional time and filled with
tears for both of us.  He was angry and frustrated, while I was
frustrated yet determined.  I had to insist on complete privacy with
no distractions while nursing.  It was not easy, but persistence won
and he continued to nurse until 10 months (which was still too early to
wean in my opinion).  During his "nursing strike" at 5 months I had to
work with him quite a bit to coax him back to the breast without any
interference from bottles.  After about a week, he took to
breastfeeding again.  At that point he seemed to be able to handle
a bottle when I was gone without getting nipple confused.  In the
end though, I realize that the bottles were the beginning of the
end at the breast.  

Enough about my experience.  Babies take to bottles because the milk
comes out faster and they don't have to work so hard.  I realize in
your case because your working that cutting out bottles is not
feasible.  Perhaps concentrating on nursing throughout the weekend and
withholding bottles as long as possible might work.  I looked through
my reference material and this is what found in "The Nursing Mother's
Companion" by Kathleen Huggins:

	'A nursing strike is distinguished from weaning by its
	suddenness...Reasons for nursing strikes vary greatly.
	They may include teething, a cold, an ear infection, a
	painful herpes sore in the mouth, or a change in the taste
	of the milk.  (This may have occurred due to the
	antibiotics.)  They sometimes happen after a prolonged
	separation between a baby and her mother, or after a baby
	has bitten her mother and been frightened by her response.
	Sometimes, when a baby has become used to a bottle and its
	rapid flow of milk, her refusal to nurse is a response to
	her mother's dwindling milk supply (which may account for
	your delayed let-down).  Some authorities believe a
	nursing strike may precede mastery of a major motor
	skill, such as crawling, standing, or walking.

	Although some mothers decide to turn a nursing strike
	into final weaning, in most cases the baby can be
	coaxed to resume nursing.  Strikes typically last a few
	days but may go on for as long as two weeks.

		1) Try a change in position, or nurse in a quiet,
		   darkened room.
		2) So long as the baby refuses to nurse, pump or
		   manually express your milk frequently throughout
		   the day.  Offer the milk in a cup rather than a
		3) Try to determine the cause of the nursing strike.
		   Check your milk supply, especially if the baby has
		   been nursing infrequently or has become increasingly
	 	   dependent on a bottle:  Do your breasts feel empty
		   most of the time?  Is the milk slow to let down?
		   Is the baby swallowing less?
		4) Maintain frequent and close skin-to-skin contact
		   with the baby without nursing.  Offer the breast
		   whenever the baby is sleepy.'

I'm assuming you are using a good electric breastpump such as Medela's
Lactina with the double pumping kit.  It makes pumping quicker, easier
and more efficient.  They are recommended in situations where you
might want to increase your milk supply.  

I hope this information is helpful for you and your baby.

My daughter Anna was just as fussy about breastfeeding as Jordan on countless
occasions before she was 6 months old.  She started out colicky, teethed early
(4.5 months for 1st 2 teeth), and now at 8.5 months wants table food (no
baby food, mama). Some things which worked with her:  

Feeding when baby is sleepy or waking up baby to feed. I think Anna was tense
about being "forced" to feed after a long awake period and would often 
respond by arching her back and screaming. Many nights she would refuse to eat,
fall asleep crying (no pacifier baby), and would wake shortly to eat peacefully.

Breastfeeding while lying down. Anna hated for me to hold her head, and I
did feel awkward holding her sometimes.  I also think that less tension is
communicated from mama to baby in this position.

Relaxation for mother and baby - I have occasionally had letdown problems too,
usually associated with travel anxiety, illness, or worry that baby isn't
eating enough... Try to let your mind drift a bit and relax your shoulders
especially (works for me). Also, it helps to let baby unwind a bit by rocking
and singing. Sometimes Anna would refuse to eat, but a few minutes of rocking
and singing in a dark room would have her rooting :-).

Hydration. Drink LOTS of water, milk (if allowed), juice. I had to drink about
a cup or more every hour to be hydrated enough for a good letdown during the
4-6 month period.

Don't underestimate baby's memory. One unpleasant feeding experience can turn
Anna off for a week these days. Best advice is to stay calm, stop the feeding
attempt whenever trouble starts, and let baby's hunger be your guide. Occasionalsupplimentation on bad days will not kill breastfeeding - if you pump well,
you might do it after a failed feeding (especially if you let down anyway -
typical 4-6 month old trick :-)) and give baby the milk from a bottle.

Sounds to me like you have a nursing strike on your hands.  (I know,
it has been lasting longer than you would expect a nursing strike to
last.)  Carrie went through this about a month ago.  She would just
scream when I tried to put her to the breast.  This was just around
the time we moved into my in-laws house for the interim.  It usually
happened when I was trying to nurse her down in the family room, although
sometimes upstairs in a quiet bedroom.  My MIL kept making "terribly
useful" comments like "I think she wants a bottle" and "she may decide
to wean herself".  This may have been partially true, but we persevered
and are back to a successful nursing relationship.  I wasn't ready to
give up yet, especially not whne we were in an unusual and stressful

For us, it lasted about two weeks.  (So you may be almost there.  It
seems like every time I get desperate enough to post to the net for
help, the problem clears up overnight before I get to use all the
great suggestions I receive.)  It was intermittent, in that sometimes
Carrie would nurse just fine and other times she would scream bloody
murder.  Some contributing factors may have been: unusual level of
activity around to distract her; teething pain; slight cold in the
beginning, which made it hard for her to breathe while nursing.

Some things which helped: Try to nurse in a calm environment, in a
common place (ie ALWAYS in your rocker.)  Try to nurse before he gets
really hungry.  Try to nurse when he is just waking up, before he
thinks about wanting a bottle rather than the breast.  DON"T EVER give
him a bottle yourself.  I had been giving Carrie occasional bottles on
weekends, to keep our bottles on weekends schedule.  Now, if no one
else is around to give her a bottle, she nurses.  No exceptions.  If
he gets really upset during an attempted nursing session, back off.
Try just cuddling for a while, get his thumb or pacifier in, whatever.
Try again after 15 minutes or so.  If he's REALLY adamant, wait the
fifteen minutes then have your husband give him a bottle.

It's hard on your supply (at least it was on mine, since I have never
been very successful at pumping).  But tough it out for a couple of
weeks, and hopefully things will clear up.

I've started giving Carrie cereal in the evenings, and now she won't
nurse until after she has had her cereal.  (I tried last night,
because we got home late, and my MIL had dinner about ready.  I was
going to skip the cereal and just nurse her so we could eat.  Carrie
would have none of that - she wanted her cereal!)  So routine seems to
be important too.

WARNING FROM BW: The following post made me so mad I couldn't see
straight, but I'm including it anyway, because some people do feel
this way.
I'm not really sure what it could be, but I would suspect teething, or
a sore throat. One possible test is to give Tylenol when the problem
occurs, and see if it goes away. If it does, then you know to suspect
a physical problem. 

Of course it could be overtiredness or overstimulation (which is what
happens to my daughter) and then I have no advice to give except to 
try taking him to a calm quiet dim place and trying to relax yourself.

Let them wean reply
There have been a couple of posts recently from mothers
who are upset that their little ones are "rejecting"
breastfeeding in preference to bottles, cups etc.

These are my thoughts:-

1) These sounds like spunky, confident kids whose parents should be
PROUD that they are making and expressing choices about their lives.

2) Is breastfeeding primarily for the good of the Mom or the baby?  I
admit that it's a joyful, sensual experience, but one has to draw the
line when self-indulgence sets in.

3) Don't take it personally - it's a big deal to you, but to the baby,
it's just FOOD, and not the most efficient way of getting it either.

4) Bonding doesn't end with breastfeeding, it's only a small part of
it. I'd be interested in any information that shows that personality
defects are negatively correlated with the amount of breastfeeding a
baby gets.

5) It seems more plausible that undesirable precedents are being set
by trying to overrule the baby's best attempts at communicating
his/her needs.

6) I don't see why weaning should be an activity that is always
initiated by the mother rather than the infant.

Please don't take this as discouragement for nursing.  But this sounds
almost exactly what happened with me and my kids.  Each of them (one is
now almost 5 and the other is almost 3) quit nursing at about 6 months.  
They reached a point where they were just too impatient to wait for my
milk to let down.  It was also at a time when they were developing a
great interest in solid food and didn't want as much milk anyways.  All
it took for each was a slight delay (60 seconds?) in getting the milk
to let-down and they would howl with frustration and not want the breast.
This was a cycle that was difficult to break, and as I said, it resulted
in them being weaned early.  I was disappointed in each case, because
I loved to nurse them and anticipated nursing them until about age 1.
So I hope you find some way to get around this problem.  But if not,
don't think that you are alone in having this experience.
My daughter did this at 3 months. She started getting one bottle in the
afternoon and refused the breast at the first evening sitting.
She was, basically, voting to move from breast to bottle.  I decided
to let her have her way (the pattern for our continuing relationship :-))
and she weaned in 3 days (OUCH!).  Once she started getting the bottles at
other feedings, she became even more adament about not wanting the breast
and I was only able to sneak in a few more feedings in the middle of the

My guess is either you have less milk than you think because of the
missed feedings.  However, by pumping you can build the milk supply up,
OR (more likely) having seen a bottle the baby is expressing a definite
preference.  You need to decide if you want to force the baby back on
the breast by never offering bottles or if you want to go with the flow
and wean.  There may be one feeding a day or so that the baby will
continue to want the breast (bedtime? middle of the night?) but it seems
to me that your baby is voting for more independence.

It's a hard choice.  I wanted to breastfeed longer, but when I realized that
the main reason for continuing feeding was for MY benefit it made it easier
(but no less sad) to allow the baby to wean.  Soon, I no longer even held
the baby for bottles - just put her to bed with the bottle for 2 naps
bedtime and mid-night bottle.  Laura at 3.8 years now continues to be
a very independent, strong willed little girl.  Personality shows up so 
I'm sure this isn't what you want to hear, but this happened to
me when my first son was about six months old.  I didn't have illness
to complicate the picture either.  Sam just decided that eating out of
a bottle was a lot less "work."  He was at the age where he was
getting really interested in looking around, and liked that better
than snuggling at the breast.  I kept trying, but finally decided that
he was ready to wean. The problem was that with his intermittent
refusal to nurse, my milk supply went way down.  Of course, that made
nursing even MORE work (as it is when you're not getting a good let
down) and he got even madder.

I'm sure lots of people will tell you otherwise, but try to prepare
yourself for the fact that he may just be ready to quit, even if you
aren't.  I have also heard that some babies regain lost interest if
you keep at it; for me it wasn't worth it.  I too had a full time job,
and it just got too stressful (which of course also affects supply.)

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