Breast refusal is when a baby refuses to attach itself to the breast after a successful period of breastfeeding. It can be an upsetting and stressful time for mum when this happens. However, there are almost always underlining reasons why your baby may be doing this so it’s important you address and correct any or all of these issues to ensure you can have a positive feeding experience. Before we jump into why it happens and what to do, we want to remind mothers that this is very common, and you are not alone. There are many resources and health professionals that can assist you during this time.
REASON: Your baby might not be ready to feed just yet and this may cause your baby to be fussy or refuse your breast.
SOLUTION: Feed your baby when it wants to and not according to a schedule – as long as they are receiving the same amount over 24 hours it shouldn’t matter when they receive it.
REASON: Baby may have a flow preference and the milk supply is coming either to fast or to slow.
SOLUTION: This can be fixed by adjusting your breast-feeding positioning.
REASON: Baby may be overtired or overstimulated by their surroundings.
SOLUTION: Skin to skin contact may calm your baby, or alternatively taking him outside for a walk will help.
REASON: Too much food.
SOLUTION: If you are giving your baby too many solids or formula it can decrease their appetite so try reducing the amount of other foods you are giving your baby.
REASON: Bottle feeding is confusing baby.
SOLUTION: There are many differences between bottle feeding and breast feeding. It may be that your baby has gotten used to the quick flow that bottle feeding allows. If so, try expressing before you offer your breast to baby. It could also be that your baby has gotten used to the position they are in when bottle feeding, if this is the case hold them in that position when feeding.
REASON: Teething Pain.
SOLUTION: Try offer something cold for your baby to chew on before feeding.
REASON: Your baby is distracted.
SOLUTION: There are few different options if your baby is distracted; try a quiet and dark room, feeding your baby when they have just woken up or try playing relaxing music.
While there are many easy, home remedies for encouraging a baby to latch on it is important to seek medical advice if you think there could be another reason your baby is refusing your breast. Alternatively, if you have exhausted all home remedies and your baby continues to refuse your breast after 2 days then you seek medical attention.