24 answers

Fussy Baby While Nursing

I need some advice please! My normally very happy 12 week old daughter has been extrememly fussy while nursing this week. She latches on for a few minutes and then stops eating and starts screaming. I can squeeze my breast and milk comes out so I know that it is there, but she refuses to latch on again. I have been very careful about what I have been eating, have been drinking tons of water and taking my vitamins so I don't think its my milk that is the problem. What else could it be? She eats great first thing in the morning but then the rest of the day she refuses, so I have been giving her a bottle. I think this is growth spurt time so is she just happier with the formula coming out fast instead of taking the time to wait for my milk? I feel like I have no other option than to give her a bottle when she is screaming, refusing the breast and I know she must be hungry? She has continued to sleep normally at night (9-10 hours) the past few nights so I know she is not starving. If I don't feed her formula will she eventually nurse or will she just keep screaming? HELP!

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The more you feed her formula, the more she will want that instead of working for the breast milk. Have you consulted a lactation specialist? If you want to keep breast feeding, I believe you will have to stop feeding the formula. Maybe try a pacifier insted of formula. If you are okay with not breastfeeding anymore-then maybe it is time to go to formula all of the time.

Another possibility is thrush, an oral yeast infection. If she has it, you'll both need to be treated for it.

My first thought was teething. Is she pulling at her ears/face? Drooling a bit more?

My pediatrician didn't believe me when I told him my son had started teething around 13-14 weeks but his two bottom teeth popped out around 16 weeks so it could be what's bothering her.

Could be gas, as well. I haven't found a good solution to that one yet myself. Time, it seems, is doing more than the drops/gripe water solutions.

I defer on the nipple confusion issue - I've never seen it and haven't breastfed so I don't know what that's like but it sounds like there are some experienced folks with answers here.

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This is a bit of a reach, but it could be that she's bobbing off the boob because she needs to go pee or poop. Babies have a natural inclination not to go in their diapers, according to those who practice elimination communication. I was just doing a bit of reading about this on the website: www.tribalbaby.org. It may be worth checking out. I know it's a little bit "out there" for most, but I just thought I'd help with the brainstorm of ideas already out there. Best of success to you!

1 mom found this helpful

She's teething A.. Go to Whole Foods or a local co-op and buy HYLAND'S TEETHING TABLETS. They will soothe her upset gums and tummy so she can relax and nurse again. You can put these tablets right in her mouth - they dissolve instantly and are non-toxic. Give them to her several times a day while her symptoms continue.

It could be she needs to see a chiropractor. The nursing position might be bothering her.
It's non-invasive and worth a try.
A.

My first thought was teething. Is she pulling at her ears/face? Drooling a bit more?

My pediatrician didn't believe me when I told him my son had started teething around 13-14 weeks but his two bottom teeth popped out around 16 weeks so it could be what's bothering her.

Could be gas, as well. I haven't found a good solution to that one yet myself. Time, it seems, is doing more than the drops/gripe water solutions.

I defer on the nipple confusion issue - I've never seen it and haven't breastfed so I don't know what that's like but it sounds like there are some experienced folks with answers here.

Have you tried some baby cereal?

M.

Check with the pediatrician about GERD. Both of my kids have it and when I put them on meds for it they stopped being fussy at the breast. Good luck!

The more you feed her formula, the more she will want that instead of working for the breast milk. Have you consulted a lactation specialist? If you want to keep breast feeding, I believe you will have to stop feeding the formula. Maybe try a pacifier insted of formula. If you are okay with not breastfeeding anymore-then maybe it is time to go to formula all of the time.

It could be gas, teething or that the bottle comes out faster. If it's a growth spurt then I don't see why she'd be fussy during feeding. My kids were always fussy after BF when they were not satisfied.

You might want to try pumping and once you feel or see the first signs of a let down I'd put her on your breast. The milk should come out quicker for her than if you don't pump before.

When my first born was 9 months she got a cold and was substituted with formula and she just wouldn't latch on me for three weeks. I ended up giving up BF after trying several times a day for that long without success and a crying fussing and frustrated baby on my hands. I've heard of nursing strikes and wonder if that's what I had going on. Maybe that's what it is in your call.

I'd call your local hospital and speak with a lactation consultant.

I see you'll be going back to work soon. I hope the transition goes well for you. I thought it was easier than I imagined it to be. I was a real sap days leading up to work and I only cried the first day back. The rest of the weeks were filled with occupied thoughts of the baby and wanting to get out of work on-time;)

I hope things change soon with the BF.

Another possibility is thrush, an oral yeast infection. If she has it, you'll both need to be treated for it.

You're probably right about it not being your milk. Probably not the amount either. Breast milk comes out fast when baby is sucking. I think she may be sick or even teething. Stuffy nose/head or an ear infection can make sucking really hard. If not those things, what about trying some cereal?

I don't know what your plans for nursing are (how long), but giving formula will decrease your milk supply. If you do want to give her a bottle, could you used expressed milk? If you don't have a good pump, I think you can rent one from a hospital. If your pediatrician is supportive of breastfeeding, I have heard that he/she can write a prescription to help with the cost.

If you chose to not give her a bottle, she will eventually nurse, but it will take some patience and determination on your part. If you want to continue with a bottle, try a slow flow nipple, so it is more like being at the breast. That helped my daughter when we dealt with nipple confusion.

Something else that I have heard is that if baby is stuffy, she could be having a hard time breathing and nursing??? I don't know if that applies at all in your situation.

Good luck to you! My daughter is 4 months and I had a lot of difficulty with nursing in the first 8-9 weeks, but am happy we got past it. It can be done!!

Hey Allison,
My son did that a while ago, and the lactation consult. said be patient, try nursing when very groggy,(that helped) and try different nursing positions. I found the football hold helped, as he seemed to want to be more upright.A few days later he was back to normal.
Hope it helps, good luck!

Allison, You have gotten TONS of great advice on things to try! For your sake I hope one of them works.. My little one went threw this at about the same time.. Like you I had milk, but she just wouldnt take the time to eat it.. We tried everything and nothing worked for us, and it was SOOOOO hard!!! I felt like i was starving my baby or something cuz she screamed sooo much... Everyone told me how my milk should be as much as she wanted, but i honestly dont think it was... Finally around 5mo we started rice ceral and that helped a bit. At her 6mo apt she had dropped to the 25th percentile for weight from 50th... I felt like a faliure. I gave her expressed milk that i had frozen in the first couple months and supplimented with formula and held on to those precious morning feedings a week ago. (independence day! lol) I finally accepted that she was weening herself and that it was okay... Some babies just do this. Our schedule finally ended up being: get up, breastfeed, have breakfast, play, sleep, try BF again, late meal, play then bottle and bed...

anyway, I guess my point is, Try everything you can, watch her weight, saver every moment that she does drink from you, seek sympathetc ears and arms when you feel bad, relax about it as much as you can knowing she's going to do what she wants- not what you want her to do (welcome to motherhood!! lol), and whatever happens, know you are the best mom that little girl could ever hope for!! Good Luck

I would also check her gums to see if she might have a sore spot or may even be teething. The sucking can really make it sore when teething.
J.
Mom to 4, soon 5 through another adoption and hopefully more :o)

Does she take the bottle without any trouble at all? If she struggles with the bottle at all, I'd talk to your ped. about reflux. My daughter struggled with feeding - would try to eat and then stop and scream with both bottle and breast. Reflux really hurts them. Does she arch her back when she is doing this? If it is just breast feeding,you might be right - she gets frustrated if it is too slow and the bottle is more satisfiying and a lot quicker. Good luck

My daughter did the same thing. Turns out she had reflux! Your daughter may take the bottle better because she can sit up a little more with the bottle than with the breast. Plus, formula is a little "heavier" so she may not reflux that up as much. Doesn't hurt to ask your pediatrician.....

My baby did this too and she wasn't getting bottles. I think sometimes they just want it when they want it and don't want to work. I just kept putting her to my breast when she had her mouth open (screaming). Eventually she would realize she needs to start sucking and everything would be fine.

My best advice is to stop giving formula. The most important thing to do during a growth spurt is to breastfeed. Babies eat more often during growth spurts and it tells your body that your baby's need are changing. When you give formula you won't make enough for her during or after her growth spurt.

How is your letdown? If you have a very good letdown (like when you squeeze it sprays), sometimes they can't quite keep up with it and will pull off. My son had the exact same pattern at the right about the 3 month mark. Try expressing some milk before you feed her. Sometimes that would work for me because I could get the milk to come out more reasonably or slowly or something so it wouldn't make him quite so gaggy. We had about two months where eventually he'd latch on suck suck suck, cry, pull off, repeat for like 45 minutes. Then at about 4 months it didn't seem to bother him anymore. I wound up BF him for 19 months (and I worked FT so the initial trauma didn't seem to scar him in any way. ; - )

Or, you could be right and she might just have gotten lazy and prefers the bottle because it is easier and more efficient, in which case you might need to go through some more tantrums while you re-educate her, depending on how hellbent you are on BF.

It might be worth a call to your hospital's lactation consultant. They're so frustrating, aren't they when all they can do is cry and not cry.

Hey, A.. You're getting a lot of advice, but I thought I'd add in a couple of tips for you. If it really is that your daughter doesn't want to work for the milk, it might help if you do a quick breast massage before each nursing session. Basically, you just rub all the way around the breast, pushing in towards the nipple from each direction. This should get your milk ready to flow quickly and help keep her from feeling frustrated if it's just the flow of the milk that's bothering her. Definitely stop the formula immediately though. Try nursing her and if she breaks off and fusses, give her a couple of minutes of comforting and then try again. If she's truly hungry, she will eat. She just needs to learn that the formula is no longer an option. It shouldn't take more than a day or two of nursing exclusively for her to get the message. Definitely DON'T give her cereal though. A lot of doctor's start pushing solids at 4 months, but really babies shouldn't get them until 6 months (this decreases the chance of them developing food allergies and many other issues). Solid food is just for experimentation and practice until a year so there really is no big rush to start it. Your daughter should be perfectly fine with just breastmilk. Just keep trying her at the breast and things should get better soon.

Keep nursing - If she is REALLY hungry, she will nurse (that's why she's nursing well in the AM - she's 'starving' after a good nights sleep!)She won't starve to death if you skip a feeding because she won't nurse. :)
I'd try to avoid the bottles - if you feel you must give her a bottle - pump and give her breastmilk. Doing that will keep your supply up.

It might be a little early for teeth - but teething pain can start long before any teeth show up. Has she started drooling a ton (that's another sign that it could be teeth). Try giving her a little Tylenol about an hour before a feeding and see if that helps. (Your dr. can tell you how much.)

Good luck but keep nursing - its the best thing for your baby!

Hi A. - I would suggest that your little one has a little nipple confusion and has decided to go on a nursing strike. She may be too impatient to wait for the let down before giving up. It's completely up to you on how to handle it. If nursing for a long period of time is important to you, than I would take away the bottle completely until this passes. But if you need the bottle than nurse her as much as she'll allow you and then pump the rest and feed her the pumped milk. If it's not enough, mix it 50/50 w/formula. I had the same issues with my two children. I nursed for 10 - 13 months for each child. Before I returned to work, I just took away the bottle completely and we worked through it. She will eventually get hungry enough to learn patience. Keep your head up, you'll do fine! If you are perfectly happy with the bottle, than go for it. It's what is important to you. If she's healthy and sleeping at appropriate times, than no problems. Seek out your local Le Leche League for more personalized advice - http://www.llli.org/ (to find a contact near you). They helped me greatly with my first child. I was adament about nursing for two years with my first child. I made it to 13 months before I was tired of being a chew-toy. These Le Leche women are die hard breastfeeding moms and have the answer to everything! Good luck! You and your precious baby will figure it out as you go along. Just remember to stay calm. If there is another adult around ask them to hold her for a minute or two if you feel yourself tensing up, calm down, and then try again. Breastfeeding is not an easy task but it is so fulfilling and rewarding if you stick with it and don't give up. It does take a lot of will power, determination, and strength. I am sure you have all those abilities!

It sounds like a growth spurt to me, perhaps with a little ear infection or teething pain. That is what my LO did and I can tell you, it does get better! Have you noticed green poop from her at all? I would avoid giving a bottle when she is doing this though, it may seem like she "gulps it down hungrily" but that is due to the sucking/swallowing reflex. This is the best site ever for BFing issues: http://www.kellymom.com/ and http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/baby/fussy-while-nurs...

Good luck momma, I know this part is tough!

Happened to me and my son when he was only a month old. Doctor thought it might be reflux, but meds didnt seem to work. I would just soothe him until he fell asleep and right when he started to stir, nurse. He was so sleepy he forgot he wasnt interested.

Sure it's possible she's teething, but unlikely. Three months is really early. But, you'll hear "Oh she must be teething!" forever and ever even if she's not. She's teething if the teeth come in a week.

i would first of all relax.

second, a good resource for you is your local (or somewhat local) le leche league. www.llli.org

find one near you they will always be available to help you with any trouble you have, and they have many books and lots of information for breastfeeding issues.

have you taken her to the dr to rule out an ear infection or anything like that?

try different positions to see if maybe that will help.
burp her before feeding, and often while feeding to see if that helps

teething maybe??
i dont know what else to tell you... but i hope it doesnt discourage you from nursing. :(

check out the le leche league, or at least send a note to the representative from your area.
or www.askdrsears.com is excellent.

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