“My baby refuses to breastfeed but will take a bottle.” Do you find yourself wondering why this is happening? Learn about nipple confusion and other possible reasons your bub is going on a nursing strike here.
In this article, you’ll read:
- Why you should hold off on baby bottles and pacifiers as long as you can
- How to get baby to breastfeed after bottle-feeding
- What to do over baby’s nursing strike
As parents, we are always after what is best for our babies. And when it comes to nutrition during the first months, we believe that the best option is to breastfeed. So the goal is to breastfeed our babies for as long as we can.
But as much as we want to breastfeed them exclusively, some unforeseen events or unexpected situations happen and we have no choice but to give our baby the bottle.
While there is definitely understandable if you supplement your breast milk with formula milk or you had to bottle feed your baby for medical reasons, know that the way back to the breast won’t be as easy, especially if your baby is less than a month old.
“My baby refuses to breastfeed but will take a bottle.”
For those who want to breastfeed long-term, this can be very problematic. Because if you constantly have to struggle with your child about being fussy when you try to breastfeed him, then you might just find yourself giving up and giving in to his request for a baby bottle.
Studies show that one of the most common reasons why a mother decides to stop breastfeeding is because of fatigue. And well, “My baby cries when I try to breastfeed,” is a situation that can be very exhausting for a new mum.
It’s easy to surrender and give in when you notice that your baby prefers a bottle over nursing. But before you succumb to it, mum, maybe you should try to find out why your baby is going on a nursing strike.
Here are some reasons why your baby seems to be refusing the breast:
According to March of Dimes, nipple confusion happens when a breastfeeding baby is having trouble latching on and sucking after being given a bottle or a pacifier. This can happen when you give your baby a baby bottle or a pacifier during his first month, and especially when you haven’t established a good nursing routine yet.
Your baby may forget how to latch on to your breasts, and he may have a hard time doing it, causing him to become frustrated and fussy.
For this reason, experts recommend only breastfeeding your baby in the first 3 to 4 weeks after birth. Refrain from using bottles or pacifiers until your baby’s already breastfeeding well (no more issues with latching) and you already have a good nursing routine.
Sometimes, it can just be that your baby wants to sleep more than he wants to feed. If the baby is sleepy, he may not show interest in latching and breastfeeding. Many times, newborns just really prefer their sleep. However, try to wake him up at least every two to three hours so they can still have enough breast milk for the day, and to prevent engorgement on your end.
Baby is having a hard time getting the milk.
The size and shape of your nipples can make it challenging for your baby to latch. Meanwhile, the baby bottle’s nipple is specifically manufactured and patterned after a baby’s mouth. Moreover, supplementing with formula or using a pacifier too much might reduce your milk supply, making it harder for baby to get the milk.
Newborns need to work a bit harder to get the milk when breastfeeding, so it can be easy to tell why your baby suddenly prefers the bottle over nursing.
Image source: iStock
Your breasts are very engorged.
If your baby hasn’t latched on for a couple of days or even just hours, your breasts may be too full of milk. Breast engorgement is common for new mums who are at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey. Milk doesn’t come until day 3 to 5 and when it does, it can be overflowing – too much for your newborn to handle.
Because as your breasts fill quickly, they can become swollen and hard, and an overactive letdown is another challenge for your baby.
Pain or discomfort on your child’s part.
According to Mayo Clinic, teething, thrush or a cold sore can cause mouth pain during breastfeeding, and an ear infection can cause pain during sucking or lying on one side. If your baby just had his vaccine, he may be feeling sore on one side of his body which is why he is uncomfortable breastfeeding.
Easy Home Remedies for Sore, Cracked Nipples that Makes Breastfeeding Difficult
“I Never Stopped Breastfeeding—Even When I Tested Positive For Covid-19”
“Breastfeed On, Mummies. The Nights Are Long But The Years Are Short”
Again, it can be tempting to wave the white flag, especially when your baby refuses to breastfeed but will take a bottle. But if you really want to have a long and productive breastfeeding journey, do not be so quick to give up.
Here are some ways to help your child ease back into the breast and start latching from you again.
How to end the nursing strike
“My baby refuses to breastfeed but will take a bottle.” A nursing strike can be uncomfortable for you and your baby. You might feel rejected and frustrated with it, especially when your baby cries when you’re just trying to breastfeed him. It can be disheartening, but it does not necessarily mean that it’s the end of your breastfeeding journey.
It’s our baby’s job to feed, and from birth, they are hard-wired to breastfeed from us. So it’s very possible to get back to breastfeeding, despite the challenges. Here are some strategies you can try:
- Offer the breast early. Try to anticipate if your child is ready to try breastfeeding again by looking out for early hunger and feeding cues – head bobbing or sucking motions – so that your baby is not too hungry (and is more open) when you offer the breast.
- Change positions. Try different breastfeeding positions where you and your baby can feel more relaxed. Check if you’re having an overactive letdown, because it that’s the case, you may want to do a more laidback position to control your letdown.
- Deal with distractions. Try feeding your baby in a quiet room with no distractions.
- Check other factors that hinder baby’s feeding. If your baby is congested, it might help to suction his or her nose before offering your breast. Moreover, try carrying your bub in an upright position and make him burp before othering the other breast.
- Cuddle your baby. Skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby might help renew your child’s interest in breastfeeding. It can also trigger your milk letdown and encourage baby to get a deeper latch with your breasts.
- A faster flow. Your baby might have gotten used to a continuous fast flow from a bottle and would need help to persist at breastfeeding. As your child approaches your breast, try to hand express so that milk starts flowing as soon as he latches.
- Don’t force it on them. If your baby is being fussy, it can mean that he is getting frustrated. So don’t force him to feed at that moment. Pushing them onto your breast when they are upset may make things worse. Stop and try again later. You might try feeding your baby when he or she is very sleepy.
Finally, relax, mum. Make your breast a safe space for you and your baby. Even when your bubba starts kicking and screaming, try not to be agitated by it. Remember, your role is to calm your child, give them access to the breast, and follow their cues. It’s their job to feed.
So make yourself comfortable, and try to take the pressure off breastfeeding for you and baby by focusing on your time together and cuddles.
For more information on how you can choose a healthy lifestyle for your baby and the whole family, visit https://babypass.health/
La Leche League, Mayo Clinic
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