26 answers

4 Month Old Very Fussy While and After Nursing

I need help! My four month old son has started to become very fussy during his feedings. He will latch on for a moment and then pull off and fuss. My milk supply does not seem to be low and he has done very well up until about 3 days ago. I am very frustrated! I try burping him, changing breasts, rocking him, etc. Nothing seems to make it better. He fusses all throughout the feeding and afterwards. He is napping well during the day and sleeping for about 6-7 hours at night before waking up for his next feeding. He is happy and playful most of the day, only fussy during mealtime and right before naps. Any suggestions on what is going on/what i can do to improve the situation? This last feeding I offered him a bottle with formula and he drank it much better with little fussiness. I usually only give him formula once a week when my mother in law watches him. I would really like to continue breastfeeding, but at this rate, I am about ready to give up. Any help would be appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi K.,

my 6 month old did the same thing when she was about 3-4 months old.. she would cry and I'd go to feed her and she'd fuss while feeding and then she would cry a bit after. So i too tried the bottle and she stopped... My though was that the breast milk was not enough for her little tummy. Now she is on the bottle and i don't have to worry that she's not getting enought to eat... Try pumping and feeding him that way... thats what i did and i gave her formula, she way fine with it....

hope things work out :)
take care,
L. J.

He probably can tell the difference between the breast and bottle and realized that breastfeeding takes more effort and prefers the bottle since he doesn't have to work as hard to get the milk. Maybe you can pump and give him the bottle so that he gets the best of both worlds. Good luck.

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I applaud you for seeking some help/advice before giving up on breastfeeding. It does not always go smoothly, even when it has been going well for a while, things could change for any reason. Your son could be getting fussy on the breast because he realizes it takes more time and takes a little bit more work on his part to get the milk than it does from a bottle. What he is doing is very normal. I invite you to really think about how you are really feeling about breastfeeding. Are you anxious about it? Are you being completely present while you nurse? Sometimes we tell ourselves stories that aren't really true, or listen to other well meaning advice that disregards our own instinct; and it's so easy to get frustrated and start thinking of the other things we want/need to do while feeding our children...especially when it isn't going as well as we planned - Plans are neat. Motherhood is messy:)
I've copied an article a friend of mine wrote. She is a LaLeche Leauge consultant and an advisor with Birthing From Within - a holistic approach to birth and parenting preparation. I really can't say anything better than how she already put it. I encourage you to copy and print her article, and really feel what she is saying. I think it will help you get through this transition right now.
Also, we all know that breastmilk as absolutely the best for our little ones for the first year or two. That said, it is absolutely important for you to know that sometimes we have to do the next best thing...wich is formula. As long as we feed our babies with love and awareness, and no guilt for the choices we have to make. Just be sure that you really listen to your inner wise mamma voice; that voice that listens to your belly heart and to your child before making that decision.
I hope you enjoy my friends article, and may you have many many happy days of feeding your baby.

In peace,
mom of 4. Birth and Parenting Mentor

Breastfeeding From Within
By Virginia Bobro

Birthing From Within encourages and teaches "doing the next best thing" when it comes to making decisions within the flow of labor and birth. The same mind-set is important during postpartum and breastfeeding. In the days, weeks, months, and even years that a woman is breastfeeding, she will face numerous obstacles, detours, and unexpected events. How she prepares prenatally and how she views these challenges can make a difference in her ability to cope.

As a breastfeeding counselor, I support many breastfeeding mothers who have to change their perception of what a "successful" breastfeeding relationship is. Some mothers need to wean much earlier than they hoped. Others need to supplement with bottles or formula. These are opportunities to re-envision what it means to nurture and nourish their babies. Many mothers are humbled when the "breastfeeding fairy" presents them with difficult circumstances and spoils their fantasy that nursing is easy and blissful.

When breastfeeding does not go as expected or hoped for, a mother can feel regret, anger, blame, grief, and guilt. Inevitably, this negative self-talk begins to affect her self-esteem and attitude, her ability to receive support, and her relationships with her baby, partner, and others in her community.

So, what can be done?
In addition to learning practical things that make breastfeeding easier, do this:
♥ Learn and practice mindfulness.
The same pain-coping practices you learn to help you cope with labor can help you postpartum when you need to still your mind, quiet negative self-talk and deal with physical discomfort and stress. (See Birthing From Within, pp. 213-238).
♥ Get a breastfeeding "reality check."
Breastfeeding is natural, but not always straightforward and easy. Very few women sail through breastfeeding on calm seas from beginning to end. Even for the most vigilant captain, storms arise outside of her control, and still, she can do the next best thing. When women know that they can influence but not control what happens, they can see the wisdom of preparing for all possibilities.
♥ Set up your breastfeeding support system.
Having a supportive crew onboard in the first months of motherhood can make all the difference. Welcome meals, errands, and compassionate listeners. When breastfeeding gets rough, support is needed to keep going and not get mired in "what ifs" and judgment. You need to hear acknowledgment that you are doing your best, not more advice and information.

♥ Focus on connecting with your baby and yourself as a mother
Come to breastfeeding with an open heart. To the degree that you can, let go of your ideals and goals, such as breastfeeding exclusively for six months. Just hold the intention to do the best you can. When you love yourself and feed your baby in love, this is the heart of breastfeeding from within

EXERCISE: Feeding with Love

When sitting (or lying down) to feed your baby, try this:

Begin to notice all the sensations around you, beginning with your baby:
Look at her face, notice the touch of her skin, take in her smell and her sounds.

Then begin to bring your attention to your own body: Where does your body touch your baby's body? How is your breath moving in and out of your body?
Where do you feel relaxed and open?
Where does your body feel tight, tense, or closed?

Gently and mindfully breathe into those places, softening and releasing anything that is unneeded in this moment. This may take several minutes. Go slowly and do not expect perfection!

As your body lets go of anything extra, feel your heart opening.
Allow yourself to inhale the presence of your baby, loving her in this moment and loving yourself as well. With each new breath, feel into your baby's heart, visualizing a connection that endures beyond feeding time.

If feeding is difficult, your focus may return to the task of latching or monitoring the feed. Do what needs to be done, then, when you are ready, take another conscious breath and return to your opening heart.

Local La Leche League
Lactation Consultants
Other Supportive Breastfeeding Moms

1 mom found this helpful

Please don't give up yet. Formula is not a long term solution. He is less fussy because a bottle is SO MUCH easier. He doesn't have to work at all. So this could be a case of your letdown being very strong and making it difficult for him when he nurses? It could also be food allergies or reflux. I would suggest seeking the advice of a lactation consultant or visit LLL. The cost of doing either is far less than buying formula for the long haul.

Try different positions so he is a bit more upright.

It could also be teething. For any situation chamomile tea is always a good first step. But an experienced consultant will be of great help to you and well worth your time and energy. Good luck!

K., make sure he is not laying fat. May need to put more than one pillow under your arm. My daughter did the same thing years ago. For your comfort place something under your feet to elevate them. Takes pressure off lower back.
Good luck with your little man,

He may be teething. Both of my children started those behaviours and teething at 3 months.


I agree with the suggestions so far...
1. Teething would be my number one suggestion.
2. Easily distracted at this age. Try a quiet spot, dark room
3. Thrush

Make sure he's still gaining. Feeding him is the priority no matter how he gets it.

Can you pump when he's not feeding well to maintain your supply? At least if you do give him a bottle, it can be bmilk.


I really wouldn't read too much into the taking a bottle...it is easier and faster to take it from a bottle so, if he is hungry, he will take the bottle. A few questions..Fever? cold? allergies? teething? all those things could make it difficult to nurse. Also, 4 months is a transition time so he could be making some developmental changes that are affecting his feeding/napping. Try to weather it and follow-up with the pediatrician if you are concerned. Good luck

I 2nd pretty much what some others have said...could be food sensitivities from what you eat or reflux, gas. Gripe water maybe could help. A lactation consultant could help too, but if he's gaining weight well he's getting enough foodies.

I don't know why co-sleeping was mentioned by someone else, since this wasn't even in your question? Opinions on topics aren't necessary when one isn't asking for them.

Check for white spots in his mouth. He may have thrush which might make it uncomfortable for him to nurse. Also consider that he might be teething already and just getting used to that feeling. I went through several episodes like this with my daughter but they ultimately worked themselves out. You may also find great support and suggestions from your local le leche league chapter. You can find their phone numbers ok the Internet and don't wait for a meeting, just call. They are happy to help any time!

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