July 20, 2008,
L.M. asks from Indianola, IA on July 17, 2008
9 Mth Old Will Not Breastfeed Anymore
I have a soon to be 9 mth old on the 24th of this month. He has only been breastfeed. He has been eating baby food now for 4 months. He has been teething and has 4 bottom teeth and is getting his two top teeth now. He had tubes put in his ears June 12th and had his first infection already last week. We had to go back to the Ent to get some of the infection suctioned out. He started bitting a lot last week also while we were breastfeeding. I would firmly say no. Now for the last three days he will not breastfeed anymore. I have been pumping and he takes a little here and there out of a sippy cup. I have done some reading and have found that some babies wean themselves?? I am not ready to give up. I keep offering him the breast at all times throughout the day. Has anyone experiened this or have any advice? I know he is not getting his full day of milk. Is there anything I can add to milk in a sippy cup to get him more interested? For the most part he is still eating his solid baby foods, but occasionally he will cry during the middle of his feeding. Thanks for any help.
So What Happened?™
First of all let me thank all you ladies for your WONDERFUL advice and support. This site has truely been amazing. It has helped me out so much. My little guy finally started to latch back. He seems to be interested again and we have breastfeed all morning!! I just keep offering the breast and he finally agreed! I took him to the doc. today and he says his ears have cleared up. Thanks to all of you.
C.K. answers from Minneapolis on July 18, 2008
It sounds like it's a combination of his teeth and ears bothering him, and him weaning himself.
Are you giving him baby Tylenol for the pain?
He may just be ready to decrease his milk intake, given the fact that he won't drink out of the sippy cup. You could try just a regular cup, too.
E.B. answers from Duluth on July 18, 2008
I've also heard some babies wean themselves, but my experience has also been that my children lessened nursing when their ears hurt and when they were teething. So...while your baby may be ready to be done, give it a little more time at least--find out if the teeth and the ears are causing the problems, too.
M.H. answers from Rapid City on July 18, 2008
It is possible that he is weaning himself, but more likely, it's a nursing strike brought on by the ear infection and teething. They can both make nursing very uncomfortable for a baby. Keep pumping, and keep offering, and most likely, he'll be back on the breast in no time. A little tylenol might help things along.
K.H. answers from Sioux City on July 18, 2008
I have an 8 month old who also quit breastfeeding cold turkey! It was more upsetting to me than it has been for him. Have you tried milk in a bottle?? That may help ease either the transition from breastfeeding to pumped milk or returning to the breast. I have heard of children who after a while of not breastfeeding will return to the breast. I would continue to offer it. However, be proud of yourself for breastfeeding for 9 months--what an accomplishment! This is also a time when they should be receiving more of their nutrition/calorie intake from regular foods as opposed to milk products.
A little about me: first time mom, OB nurse for 3+ years.
A.D. answers from Davenport on July 18, 2008
I don't know what constitutes a "nursing strike" but to me, if he's crying during nursing, it sounds like he's in pain. I think you have more of an uncomfortable baby than one who is striking. Also if he's biting you, his teeth hurt and he's trying to teethe on your breast. He's probably in so much ear and teeth pain that when he sucks it hurts. Obviously the tubes didn't help if he still got another ear infection after they were put in. Have you taken him to a chiropractor yet? There's nothing better for an ear infection than a good adjustment. I would try some natural remedies to ease his ear and teeth pain before you dismiss it as just not wanting to nurse anymore. Good luck to you.
J.P. answers from Minneapolis on July 19, 2008
I know you said that he started back up again, that is great! My son went decided at about 10 months that he was done and would just play and not nurse. It was very hard on me, I had planned on continuing for a while, and was not ready to quit. I continued trying to nurse until he was 13 months, but around that time my milk pretty much had dried up, so I had to accept that it was time to let go.
My son also had tubes, but not until he was 2. He had a bad ear infection, and while I was at the chiropractor one time, they asked how he was doing (he was with) and I told them I was thinking about bringing him back in because he didn't seem to be getting better. They asked if they could check (since he wasn't their patient), and looked in his ears and said it is still infected, but looks like it is healing. Then he asked me if he could give him an adjustment, and I should have learned from that, because the constant ear infections stopped completely for over 4 months. I didn't link it together until later, that was August of '05, his next ear infection wasn't until that December, and from then on he didn't go more than 2-3 days off antibiotics and finally got tubes in March. I thought the ear infections stopped because that same month I quit working at a daycare and became a nanny, and he wasn't in daycare anymore. Then I couldn't figure out why they started back up again so bad while he was still out of daycare. It wasn't until after the tubes that I realized the timing of the adjustments, and I am positive that was what helped. I wish I had continued to bring him in to get adjustments now. I would recommend it. Even once every month or 2 could make a huge difference, it stopped my sons infections for 4 months from just one time.
Another thing a lot of people don't know about is teething tablets- they are amazing! They are all natural, no side effects, and instead of numbing the pain, they releive the symptoms that come with it. I know of someone who's daughter got the whole bottle, and poison control said there was nothing to worry about. My sons daycare called them miracle tablets and recommended them to the other parents after I brough them for him. You can get them at Walgreens, and that may help keep him nursing while teething too.
J.K. answers from Fargo on July 18, 2008
It sounds like a nursing strike to me mama, which a lot of mom's tend to think that baby is weaning, which really he probably isn't.
Here are a few links that may help you:
Help! My baby won't nurse! http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/baby/back-to-breast.html
ETA: to the other moms who's babies are so distracted, it stinks! We are right in the middle of that right now. The only way I can nurse my son is if we are laying in bed, otherwise he spends more time looking around than eating.
P.K. answers from Minneapolis on July 17, 2008
Yes, some baby's do wean themselves. My daughter was fully weaned at 11 mo and she would have NOTHING to do with nursing anymore but would drink the milk. She just didn't want to lay there. The problem with them weaning themselves is that you begin to decrease your milk supply quicker and we worried about running out of breastmilk, which we did.
Also, the worry about the weaning early is that the baby still needs the iron and vitamins that the milk offers, until the baby can be introduced to cows milk, usually at 12 mo. We brought our daughter in for her 12 mo check-up early and they tested her blood to ensure that her iron was high enough to drink cows milk, which it was so we made the switch early. But, at 9 mo's, your little one probably isn't quite ready for the switch. You could offer the sippy cup. Perhaps your letdown isn't fast enough for him and he becomes impatient with waiting and gives up, like my daughter did. I'd continue to offer him the milk in some form, but if he clearly isn't getting enough, you could always supplement with formula. It's very sweet and most kids like it so much that once they get formula, they many times will not go back to breastmilk. It is however less filling though so the quantities will not match breastmilk to formula ratio. I've been told that it's approximately twice as much formula as the amount of breastmilk usually consumed.
J.W. answers from Minneapolis on July 18, 2008
What I was told by a lactaction consultant at the time: between 6-9 mos, babies often become so engaged in the world, so interested in what's going on around them, that they lose patience with looking at your chest for the time it takes to breastfeed. If you stick with it, he will most likely come back to it. That said, at almost 11 mos, my son basically got down off my lap and refused to come back, so I pumped for the last two months and gave him breast milk in a bottle - which he loved, he could sit in his high chair, look around, see the world, and still get the food he needed. (Incidentally, when I did finally make that move, I always gave him the bottle FIRST, then whatever solid food he was going to get, just as if I were breastfeeding.)
Since he's only 9 mos, I wouldn't give up yet. Be patient, and as long as he's peeing consistently so you know he's not dehydrated, he'll figure it out, and he won't starve in the process.