14 answers

Newborn Suddenly Won't Nurse

My 9 1/2 week old suddenly screams when it's time to nurse. A little background, this past week, he was admitted to the hospital for blood in his diaper and I was told he has a milk and egg allergy. He has been pretty much exclusively BF but occassionally I pump and he's fed milk with a bottle. He goes back and forth very easily. Anyway, after being on formula for 2 days (to get all of the dairy out of MY system) I started BF again and all was well. Then, today, I found out I have a sinus infection. I took him to his pediatrician to be sure he didn't have an ear infection or anything else and he's in perfect health. He's playful, smiling, cooing, snuggly UNTIL I lean him on his side to nurse and then he pitches a fit. I pump and feed him and he's perfectly happy. I also switched to a football hold this afternoon and he nursed fine but when I tried that later... same response. So, nothing is consistent other than he is MISERABLE. My "What to Expect" book said some babies just have "off days" - have any of you had this problem? He's had normal poops and pees and I think I stumped my pediatrician... He said to just offer the breast at every feed and he should just "bounce back to his normal self" and IF he gets a fever or shows a sign of infection, I am to go back in. Also, he takes a bottle or my pumped milk just fine. He doesn't spit up or anything. I feel like because he had to be on a bottle for a few days that he figured out it was easier and NOW.. he wants to go the easy route. My Pedi and I talked about acide reflux as well but again, we have put him in the "feeding" position and he'll take a bottle that way. Ugh!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

THANK YOU ALL for your repsonses. I did the football hold this morning - well a variation of it and leaned over him and it was like a little workout for me but he ate! So, at least that's something. I start back to work next week so this is really a kick in the teeth as he will be on bottles ALL day and hopefully (fingers crossed) he will nurse at night and in the morning but if he won't I will pump and at least he will still be getting breastmilk. I am COMMITTED!! Thank you so much for all of your advice and encouragement!

Featured Answers

I would take him to a chiropractor, one who specializes in pediatric care. Go to www.icpa4kids.com to find one close to you.

More Answers

This is what my baby was doing at this age and it turned out she had reflux. Which, was very suprising to us because she was not throwing up at all. She had "silent" reflux where she was swallowing everything back down. We now take Prevacid 2 x day & Levsin drops as needed. We saw Pediatric Gastroenterologist Mona Dave, MD @ Presby Plano and LOVED them. Unfortunately, my daughter began to scream every time I laid her back to nurse her, or at best would nurse 5 minutes and begin screaming. So, at 7 months I have to pump exclusively. But, it is worth it to give her my milk!

Hi J.
Good Luck with the nursing. I hope it continues to go well.

Just wanted to tell you that my daughter also had trouble with milk when I was nursing her, but it took quite a while to get the milk out of her system as well. Once I quit ingesting any milk or milk products, I didn't see an improvement in her for about 10 days - 2 weeks. So, just keep it up and I bet your son will even get better!

so many things to say...so little time! my most succinct advice first: get thee to a le leche meeting if you can, asap. (http://www.lllusa.org/web/DallasTX.html) the women there have far more knowledge and experience and with all the issues my two babes have challenged me, i've yet to stump a le leche leader.
other helpful resources are www.kellymom.com and http://www.mothering.com/discussions/forumdisplay.php?f=23

apart from resources for you to seek, i can only offer that your troubles might be simple and isolated or complex and inter-related, your baby might just prefer the easy flow of the bottle over nursing (google medela sns to help w/ the baby side of things, kellymom can help w/ your side of things), or your baby might have reflux (check out http://www.infantreflux.org/forum/ for that one); your baby might be gassy (cocyntal by boiron is da bomb!), or your baby might still be experiencing some symptoms of allergy (the dairy protein usually takes at least two weeks to clear your system, so that could still be a culprit).

are you using an elemental formula like neocate? or are you using nutramigen? (nutramigen is better than the regular stuff, but it still has a small amount of some commonly-allergenic proteins intact.)

i'm gonna stop here and just say GOOD JOB, MAMA!! it is so hard to be where you are now, and you're doing a loving and wonderful thing for your baby by breastfeeding even with challenges that sometimes might just make you wanna cry!? please feel free to pm me & i'd be happy to help you out in any way i can...my first baby was early, had reflux, and has a dairy allergy and intolerances to soy, gluten, beef, mango, pineapple, and coconut (all discovered via an elimination diet for me first, then later both of us as he started solids). my second was full-term, though had a minor tongue tie -- we didn't want to take any chances with her not being able to breastfeed (especially considering my low supply issues in the past) & had it clipped. she nurses like a champ now. -- what i'm trying to show you with all this is that it can be really tough, but it's worth it in the end to know you did your best by your sweet baby & he will be better off for it.


I am a mother of two - a 2 year old and 9 month old. Exclusevely BF for 6 and 5 months respectively. You did the right thing by taking him in b/c I would have suspected ear infection as well. But since your baby has gotten the green light, it may just be an off day. I remember both of mine sometimes crying when trying to feed them. I wasn't quite sure why. Also, my older was very colicky (spelling?). I remember trying everything - nursing, rocking, holding and she would just cry. Maybe she doesn't like the milk that day. Also, my second was much harder to nurse - seemed like she did not enjoy it as much as my first. She actually preferred the bottle. Whereas my first couldn't get enough of the breast and cried when I tried to give a bottle. Just hang in there and do he best you can. Every child is very different. Just remember that you have off days as well and feel under the weather. I am sure babies go through the same thing. Good luck!!!!

I would take him to a chiropractor, one who specializes in pediatric care. Go to www.icpa4kids.com to find one close to you.

His tummy may be hurting, I know mine gets squirmy and upset if his tummy hurts when he's trying to eat. I went through some feedings just like that with him, it is very frustrating. Sometimes switching sides would help. Almost like he was gassy and laying on one side hurt worse than the other.

Another idea is that if he's got a sinus infection maybe he's either just not feeling well from that or could be having a hard time breathing and not wanting to eat. If he's having a hard time breathing I'd try saline drops in the nose and then clean him out with a nasal aspirator.

My only other thought is if your milk isn't coming down or coming down quick enough for him. If you have a letdown you probably know pretty well if you are letting out milk or not.

Maybe you could try pumping your breast milk and see if he will take it from a bottle. If he's uncomfortable on his side for some reason he may take a bottle better where he's in a different position.

Hope something helps for you!

I went through this. My daughter just wanted the bottle because she didn't have to work as hard for the milk! If that's your case you have two choices: 1. insist on only breast feeding-he'll figure out it's that or go hungry. 2. bottle feed. I ended up pumping for a long time because I was determined that she would have my milk. Good luck!

Both of mine (three year old and 7 month old) did this. If he stiffens in the middle of nursing when he does nurse or sometimes spits up a large amount, it could be reflux. They will do a sonogram on your infants tummy after a feeding to see if he is having reflux spasms and thne typically prescribe Zantac to give to him a few times in the day before feeding. I hate giving my baby daily medicine, but it worked with both of them and eased my stress I was developing over nursing. Hope this helps!!!

Sounds like you have a wise pediatrician.

He has to work harder to nurse, maybe he is just not wanting to. I had a couple that did that. When they did, I would give bottles as little as possible, till they started nursing again.

Is it possible that he developed a sinus infection after the doctor saw him? Or an ear infection? It sounds like his equilibrium is off so that he gets a sense of falling when he leans over.

Good luck.

D. Kimbriel
Grandma to 2 beautiful boys

Hey J.,
When my daughter was 3 weeks old she suddenly started screaming everytime I nursed her. I couldn't figure it out, and thought at first that I was over reacting. It took a week and lots of tears to figure out that she was not only lactose intolerant, but had a severe case of acid reflux. We ended placing her on a special formula for the lactose intolerance, then putting cereal in it to weigh it down. In addition to all that she was on the highest dosage of prevacid, but it worked almost immediately. She went back to her old self and we never had another problem. Just last month a friend was going through a similar problem and her doctor told her it was colic. She finally got so fed up she switched doctors, and her son was also diagnosed with reflux.

Good luck and I hope you are able to solve this quickly!

I highly recommend the Breastfeeding Resource Center at Harris Methodist HEB Hospital. There's another good one at the Harris Methodist Fort Worth campus as well. Those ladies are awesome and really know their stuff!

The answer to almost any bf problem is almost ALWAYS "breastfeed more". Ive bf 2 kids, daughter fot 17 mos, then my now 9 1/2 month old who I am nursing had a little newborn reflux that the ped thought irritated his throat which caused him to cry when he nursed for a while. He would start to nurse, then cry, etc. He just eventually outgrew it, and I did try a prescription antacid for infants that didn't seem to do much. But you might also try (I'm sure you already do) to make sure that your breasts and nursing pads are extra fresh before each nursing attempt. Good luck and keep trying! Just a thought!

I was going to suggest some of the same resources as Renee- La Leche League & Kellymom.com. Even if you can't get to a LLL meeting, check the website and get a phone number for a leader. They will help you. Kellymom has a great forum and they offer great BF support.
Also, try holding him upright to nurse. This could help. The longer he gets bottles, the more he gets used to it. It can be hard but you can definitely do it. Not to get into too much, but DD definitely had struggles early on- no thanks to the hospital- but I managed to get her turned around and back on the breast. I agree with "nurse more" whenever possible.
Oh, and BTW, the "What to Expect" series are not the most BF-friendly books. Try The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, or the Dr Sears Breastfeeding Book. Even the Dr Sears Baby Book has lots of information.

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