15 answers

8 Month Old Turning Away from Breast

My 8 month old son has been nursing great until recently. He’s started pulling away and fussing a little when I offer him my breast – right or left it doesn’t matter. Even this morning, after he’d been in bed for 12 hours, he only nursed on the left side and refused to even try the right side. I did pump after he wouldn’t nurse from the right side and he took the bottle easily and quite happily. We bottle feed him about 3 – 4 times a week (I work about 10 hours a week). He’s been eating food since he was 6 months old and gets 3 baby food meals a day and nurses about 4 – 5 times a day.

I haven’t changed any of my habits as far as eating anything out of the ordinary and my schedule is the same as it’s been for months. I’m hoping this is just a phase and he’s not weaning himself yet. Should I just let him get hungry enough to want to nurse or should I pump and feed him a bottle when he refuses to nurse? If this lasts too long I’m sure I’ll just switch to formula soon, although I would like to nurse him until he’s a year old.

What can I do next?

More Answers

Hi K.,

It's most likely a nursing strike. I went through this with my daughter on a couple of occasions, and each time friends assured me my daughter would return to nursing - which she did. Just keep offering the breast and pump when he refuses. Try not to take it personally (which took me a while to realize!). It's not you... I found that if my daughter nursed minimally at a normal nursing time, I would switch activities: change her diaper, read a book, etc. A few minutes later I would try again, and usually she would nurse at least a little bit more. I also started nursing her with her lovey, which kept her mind on task, so she didn't squirm around. Just keep trying! Things will turn around! Good luck.


first of all i congratulate you for breastfeeding and wanting to continue until a year old! :D way to go moM!

second, i HIGHLY recommend you find your local la leche league. they are FANTASTIC for supporting and helping nursing mothers! they will be able to help you with this issue, likely from moms who experienced something similar to what you are experiencing! and they can even support you if you make it to a year old, and you still want to nurse! my son just weaned himself at 19 months and 3 weeks :D its beautiful when they wean themselves... :D and i feel so close to my son because i allowed him to grow up and grow out of such an important part of life all on his own! :D

second. you baby might be teething. they tend to get a little screwed up when they teeth, and feeding and sleeping both are affected (as well as mood, etc.) since he is doing it on both sides, i would rule out an ear infection, unless it is a double ear infection... which you would have many other symptoms such as crying and etc.
its HIGHLY unlikely that he would want to stop nursing at this point, and putting him on formula will most likely give him constipation (becuase thats what formula does) besides formula can be allergy-causing to some babies and you might spend more money and frustration finding a formula that doesnt caust a reaction would be more trouble than its worth.

www.llli.org is the la leche league site. if there isnt one in your town specifically, then try a neighboring town. the meetings are just once a month, so you can sure make an exception to drive to a nearby town once a month right? otherwise, just emailing the representative in your area might give you the answers you are looking for.

a book that i HIGHLY recommend is the breastfeeding book by william and martha sears. www.askdrsears.com is the site for that dr, but you can find them on places like amazon for a low price.
or check out your local library. :D
good luck, and dont give up hope that you can continue breastfeeding. this is really a minor issue... babies will eat when they are hungry, so dont worry too much.

Its a nursing strike. Very common and can last anywhere from a few hours to a week or two. Just keep offering, and try to steer clear of bottles (unless yo uare at work).

Babies don't wean themselves this early, but nursing strikes are very common. Just keep offering, make the room dimly lit, quiet, and comforting. Get some nursing beads/nursing necklace to interest him while nursing. He will come back, so don't stress. :)

www.kellymom.com has some great info on nursing strikes, just search nursing strike from the main page.

I wanted to add that neither of my boys nursed from both breasts at a feeding. Your milk is pretty concentrated right now, and there is very little foremilk, but lots of hind milk. Its possible that his tummy is full after one breast be cause of the more mature concentrated milk. Again neither of my boys nursed from both breasts at a feeding. only one breast per feeding, and then the opposite for the next feeding.

Working out can change the taste. So can pregnancy! Or your period coming.
I would keep at it for awhile longer. Since he is taking it from a bottle, it is probably not the taste. Maybe your skin tastes or smells different to him with a hormone change. Or he is uber independant.

This just sounds like a nursing strike and is very normal for his age. They are easily distracted so may not be able to look at mom for the time it takes to nurse completely. With a bottle he can still check everything out while getting the milk. The best thing to do is to keep offering him the breast- and only that. He won't starve himself. Maybe there's a special toy to occupy him that you only offer while nursing. Please don't give up, it's only a phase. You've been successful for this long so there's no need to fall back on the formula trap. Good luck!

I wouldnt worry to much about it. My son stopped at 6 months. He had to see what was going on the world, heaven forbid he missed something important! The most important thing is that you got to feed him as long as you did, any amount of time you can feed him breast milk is great! Of course to those who do bottle feed, I have 3 others that I only bottle fed because of other problems. My son is now 8 and is healthy, wonderful and active, still isnt very snuggly, but its ok, he is who he is! Good Luck!

The first time my baby did that it drove me nuts. He was 9 months old and eating solids for the first time. It turned out he refused to nurse because he had an ear infection and the sucking or laying on his side really hurt.

So I would advise having his ears checked out. If he has no fever bring him to a chiropractor. The chiropractor will align him so his ears can drain.

It sounds like he might be getting ready to cut teeth, or maybe you've been eating something that might be affecting the taste of the milk.. have you had lots of garlic, asparagus or spicy?

One other thing, sometimes if you have blocked ducts or a mild infection the milk might be unappealing to baby.

With any of the above possibilities, he will come around. Just keep offering the breast and pump when necessary to keep your supply up. Pump at the times he'd normally feed for 10-20 minutes per side depending on your regular output. Sooner or later he'll get get over his "nursing strike".

For more information on "nursing strikes" such as what they are and what you can do go to www.lalecheleague.com.

Hope this helps.

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