7-Month Old Refusing to Nurse, Also Refuses Bottle and Sippy Cup - Need Help!

Updated on September 14, 2010
B.F. asks from Denver, CO
17 answers


My son is 7 months old and is exclusively breastfed. Breastfeeding has been going well for the past few months. Two weeks ago, he started biting me at the beginning of feedings and then refused to nurse. He hasn't nursed in two weeks-he simply refuses. When this nursing strike started, he'd cry when I would try to make him nurse, now he just turns his head the other way; he's completely uninterested. He does also have an ear infection. My pediatrician said it probably hurts his ears to suck, but he's been on antibiotics for five days now and still won't nurse. I fear that he just remembers that nursing hurt his ears and won't nurse now even though his ears are better. Do you have any advice about what to do about that? Also, to make matters more complicated, he refuses to take a bottle (he took a bottle fine for about 5 months, then suddenly refused to take it anymore--he even went 9 hours without eating one day because we were trying to make him take a bottle). He also hasn't mastered a sippy cup, and at most will only take 2 ounces out of a sippy cup, after that he just won't drink anymore. We've tried using a cup, which isn't successful either. We've even tried shooting milk in his mouth with a syringe, which he also doesn't like after a bit. We estimate that in the past two weeks, he's getting about 8 ounces of breastmilk a day in liquid form, and about 12 ounces a day mixed into cereal. In general, he eats every 4 hours and his feedings usually consist of drinking 1.5-2 ounces out of a sippy cup, and then screaming and crying until I give in and mix it in cereal...he devours it then. His diapers aren't very wet at all. At this point, I'm most interested in any advice you have on getting him to nurse again and getting him to take a normal full feeding from a sippy cup. I am in communication with his doctor about this: she thinks he is just stubborn and wants solids rather than liquid (we mix the rest of what he won't drink in his cereal). Also, he has reflux, but is on Prevacid and the reflux seems to finally be getting a little better (probably because he's drinking so much less, he's spitting up much less).

I am also worried about my milk supply; I am currently pumping for each of his feedings, so about 4 times a day. It seems to be going down a little - will pumping more often help? Does continuing to pump even after the milk has stopped flowing help increase milk production?

If any of you have gone through this, I'd love some advice!

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answers from Boise on

A great site for breastfeeding questions is www.kellymom.com go to thier message boards, if you can't search an answer join and ask. They really know thier stuff and they are geared towards BF'ing.

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answers from Denver on

First off, he is NOT weaning. He's still too young to do so. He's doing a "nursing strike" It's time to get some face-to-face help ASAP.

IBCLC’S in http://www.ilca.org/falc.html
La Leche League http://www.llli.org/resources.html

Breastfeeding.com http://www.breastfeeding.com/

Ask Dr. Sears http://www.askdrsears.com/html/2/T020100.asp

Medela http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/

First Right http://firstright.org/

Bosom Buddies http://www.bosombuddies.com/

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Wow, there is a lot going on. Are you using a sippy cup with a soft flexible spout(we use the one made from NUK)? My daughter started drinking juice from the cup so that I could get her used to it and then I started giving her milk in it, by that time she was used to it and loved it. Some babies actually wean themselves off the breast at that age, they just don't want it anymore. He is at the age where you should be feeding him baby food in addition to BF. You could make your own baby food with your breast milk instead of water or what if you try adding a little sugar to your milk in his cup or bottle? That may be a totally bad idea but it sounds like it may be worth a try. Sorry I don't have any solid advice for you but I wish you the best of luck.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Hello! Well, I feel for you. I have a 10-month-old who I'm actually in the process of trying to gradually wean from the breast but he has the opposite problem, he doesn't like solids and will not take a bottle or sippy and will only drink a couple ounces out of a cup. So I know how stressful it is!

My son also has reflux and we've gone up and down with how much he will nurse. He's never actually gone on a nursing strike, but his desire to nurse will dip if his tummy isn't feeling well. Our son, too, is on Prevacid and my question is this - do you divide the Prevacid dose into smaller doses and give it to him over the course of the day or do you give it to him all at once? There is this website www.marci-kids.com that has information about dosing. It actually recommends you divide the dose evenly into three smaller doses throughout the day. We actually just do one 15 mg solutab in the AM and one 15 mg solutab in the PM. Obviously, that's based on our son's weight (20 lbs). The other thing to keep in mind is Prevacid must be given on an empty stomach (at least an hour after a meal) and then you have to wait an additional 30 minutes after giving him the Prevacid until you feed him again. The timing of it all!

That said, it does sound like he has a negative association with nursing now and you will have to "woo" him back. I'm sure you've tried this but our son will ONLY nurse when he's really tired (i.e. before naps and before bed) and will only nurse in a quiet, dark room with very little distractions. He also has to hang on to his "lovey" and "massage" it while he nurses. Go figure!

About your milk supply - keep pumping (you might even have to do one additional pumping after you put him to bed) and you might also try Fenugreek supplements, they really helped me. But don't worry too much about your milk, it will come back up once he starts nursing again!

Anyhow... good luck. It's so stressful!!



answers from Denver on

Eating issues are one of the most stressful in my opinion! Since they cannot talk it is just so hard to know what to do.

The first thing I can say is all three of my children were breast fed (never formula) and they all had different times that they stopped (1 year, 7 months, 1+ years). None of them liked the bottle and I just kept pushing the sippy or the cup from about 6 months on. It takes a while for them to get it. In addition to breast milk, I started solids at 4 months old and by the time they were 7 months old, they had gone through all of the categories of food and were eating three meals a day of solids as well as breast milk and three snacks a day. Once they hit all food categories, I was able to feed them parts of our dinner that were soft enough for toothless babies. It was about at 6 months that I noticed the breast feeding went down considerably. I was at about three times per day (naps and night). At the point that the breast feeding went down, I started to introduce different drinks (no cows milk though).

It sounds like your doctor has advised that you do more solids and it sure sounds like that to me too. These babies need those solids and will let you know when they are ready, sounds like he is speaking to you loud and clear.

As far as breast feeding in general, another thing those kids do is let you know when they are ready to be done with it. Although I must admit, every time one of my kids quit I had a bit of sadness, but believe me, it will just open the door to another great stepping stone your baby will do.

Good luck to you, I remember how hard the first baby is, they just stress you out at every turn. = )



answers from Denver on

I have not experienced an extended nursing strike like you are going through, but it does sound like teething/ Pain from teething can cause a little one to not want to nurse. I would just continue to offer the boob, bottle or sippy every time he seems hungry.

As for keeping your supply up, pump as often as possible even if you don't get out any milk. This will trigger your body to up your supply. Also, try to pump around the same time every day. Good luck!

Make it a GREAT day!




answers from Salt Lake City on

Nora gave you some awesome links and I just want to second her recommendation to check those out. This is definitely a nursing strike, not weaning, and you will have to work at "wooing" him back to the breast. Lots of snuggly, relaxed, skin-to-skin time can help. Consider taking a bath with him and letting him hang out near your chest, or napping with your shirt open so he can doze there. I'd suggest less trying to make him latch and more giving him the opportunity to latch on his own, especially if he seems so adamant. He must have really been miserable with his ear infection--I hope that's completely kicked now.
Consider contacting your local La Leche League Leader (find her at www.llli.org) and an IBCLC-certified lactation consultant in your area for in-person, specific help.
This is tricky, but you can get past it. Good for you for offering him milk in ways besides a bottle--I think that's smart as you try to get him back to the breast. Cosider cup feeding; it's messy but he might take a bit that way. It is, of course, important to keep him well-fed and hydrated as best you can.
Hang in there.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Have you started eating something different? Maybe the taste of your milk has changed & he doesn't like it. It could be that his ear infection isn't gone-my 3 YO had one that outlasted 3 courses of meds & he ended up needing tubes. Take him back in to rule out an on-going ear infection because the meds should be working by now.
As far as the bottle, my boys were bottle champs once my milk dried up. Maybe his flow needs have changed & he's not getting enough milk at a time from the bottle nipple-try switching up the nipples w/a faster flow & offer a bottle again. My boys both hated sippy cups so it was a battle of wills to get them to drink from them. I refused to bottle feed after 12 mos, they refused to drink from a sippy, so they were very thirsty boys for a few days until they decided to try the sippy cups. (I weaned each of them off a bottle a day until they were off totally) I also tried different sippy seals-one was so hard to suck out liquid that I had a hard time drinking out of it. Both boys liked being more upright & drinking out of faster flow sippy cups.



answers from Denver on

Just a quick idea to help with dehydration...
Freeze your milk in ice cube trays and add a stick . It will help in the heat and teething as well as getting more milk. Good luck
also with ear problems u may check to see if there is acid reflux associated with it too,
go to a pediatric e.n.t.
Ear ,nose, throat



answers from Denver on

Hi, I have a 7-month old as well and he also drinks far less milk than he used to, even though he is still drinkingn from a bottle. Sounds to me like yours just wants more solids -- from the reading I've done, my understanding is that you should offer them milk first when they are hungry, and then when they don't want any more milk, offer them as much solids as they'll eat. That lets them set the pace for what they prefer since every baby is different -- but the goal is, by about a year of age, solids should be the largest part of his diet. At 7 months, that shouldn't just be cereal, but also fruits and veggies, and within a month, meats, yogurts, etc. There is a great site that talks about this (and doesn't try to sell you anything but will offer sample schedules, etc.), wholesomebabyfood.com.

For reference, my guy also only drinks a couple of ounces and has then been pushing away both bottle and boob after drinking a little (and he didn't have an ear infection), but he loves solids, so he has 4 solid meals a day, which, like someone else that wrote in, including all sorts of fruits, all sorts of veggies, oat cereal with milk, different meat baby foods (okay'ed by our doc to start at this time), full fat yogurt with fruit (also okayed).



answers from Denver on

in answer to the pumping questions, yes to both.

Our daughter likes the Born Free sippy cups (6 month kind). They don't require hard sucking, so maybe wouldn't hurt. Welre using them for bottles with good success when nothing else worked. GL! I know feeding issues are frustrating. We've had them with two kids after having an easy one.



answers from Denver on

My son hasn't had an ear infection yet, so I don't have any advice about that. But pumping more often will increase your milk supply. After I had a cold when my son was 11 months old my milk supply went down. So I added 2 extra pumping sessions a day to bring back up my milk and my freezer supply. When I added those sessions for a few weeks, I always pumped for 10 minutes, regardless if milk was coming out or not, and it helped.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Is there any chance the antibiotics did not work and he still has an ear infection? This happened to my oldest when she was 7 and had strep throat. If you have not yet taken him in to recheck his ears you might want to do that. Pumping more often should increase you supply or rather the frequency.



answers from San Diego on

I am currently having the same issue with my 7 month old! He started solids at 4 and a half months, since he needed to gain weight, and he didn't want to take a bottle (with formula). He is up to eating solids 3 times a day (about 3-4 hours in between), and had been nursing 4 or 5 times a day no problem, but then all of a sudden in the past 4 days, he has been refusing to nurse! The only time he will nurse is when he first gets up in the morning, and then maybe in the afternoon after his first nap, but that is it! I even tried pumping today, and putting the milk in his cup, but he refused to drink it! I am going to be contacting his Pediatrician tomorrow, because I really don't know what else to do!



answers from Casper on

I read online to put crushed garlic mixed with olive oil in ears for ear infection - it worked great on my son, and also to cut dairy. If you are drinking milk, or if his formula is milk-based, change it. Try water in a regular cup, just hold it for him carefully. He is awfully young to stop nursing, but solids are ok if he is interested. Just keep him hydrated and best of luck.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi! If you want to clear up an ear infection in 24-48 hours in a natural and safe way, drop 2 -3 drop of breastmilk in his ears every 2 hours. You just pump out some milk and use a dropper to put it in his ears. It works awesome for us.

Good luck. It is so stressful when your baby doesn't eat.



answers from Pocatello on

It sounds like a sad nursing strike. Good for you for treating the ear infection. Sometimes babies stop nursing because their mouths hurt (teething or thrush). If it were thrush, he might have been clicking or coming off and on the breast, maybe had white spots in his mouth or a rash around his anus. (you might have had itchy or burning nipples, more-red-than-normal nipples, or no symptoms at all). Babies bite for both thrush and teething. If it's thrush, it will need to be treated. Tylenol, or another pain reliever you and your doc agree with, may help. For nursing, have you tried taking a bath together? Laying down together at nap and bed time (before, during, and/or after)? Carrying him in a soft ring-sling, topless of course, so he has easy access? These are just some ideas.
You may email me privately if you want to look at more ideas; I'm an IBCLC. :)

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