Breast Refusal

Breast Refusal

Breast Refusal can be really stressful!

A baby may refuse the breast at some or all feedings, at any age, and the reasons for doing so will vary. Your baby may suck for a few minutes, then break away with signs of distress and refuse to continue. They may refuse even to begin sucking although they are obviously hungry.

Trying to remain calm is really important when dealing with breast refusal. If your baby is quite unsettled, taking a break can be good for both of you and you may find it helps to try again when you are both feeling calmer.

Breast refusal can vary depending on the age of your baby too. A newborn feeds
between eight and twelve times in 24 hours, but there is a wide variation in the number of feeds an older baby needs. It's important to note there is a big difference between a four-month-old who refuses one or two feeds in eight, and a baby of the same age who refuses four out of five feeds.
Regardless of the number of feeds ensure your baby is getting enough milk and if you are concerned speak to your LMC/GP.
Here are some of the many reasons a baby may refuse the breast.

● Attachment problems
● Nipple confusion
● Overtiredness/overstimulation
● Baby refusing one breast
● Recent immunization
● Illness, e.g. a cold or earache, sore throat
● Feeding pattern is changing
● Distractions
● Introduction of other foods
● Teething
● Biting
● Overuse of a dummy
● Discomfort associated with sucking
● Weaning

Milk Supply
● Fast flow
● Low supply
● Slow let-down

● Overtired or overstressed
● Sick or taking prescribed or over the counter medications
● Unusual food in your diet
● You smell different for some reason- e.g., different perfume, deodorant, chlorine/ salt from swimming; visit to hairdresser, smoke
● Hormonal Changes
● Menstruation
● Ovulation
● Pregnancy
● Oral contraceptives

Things to do... to get your baby on the breast
● Be as patient and calm as you can,
● Try different feeding positions
● Walk and Feed.
● Try Breastfeeding in the bath.
● Try and Feed when sleepy
● If your baby will take a bottle or dummy, take it out and try sneaking the breast in.
● Feed in a rocking chair.
● Express some milk into your baby's open mouth to encourage him.
● Baby Massage
● Try playing some favourite relaxing background music.

There are a couple of rules to follow if your baby is going through breast refusal to protect your breastfeeding journey.
1. Feed your baby. It’s important to ensure bub is fed if refusing the breast and
won’t feed. I.e. try expressed milk, formula.
2. Maintain milk supply. Make sure you are pumping if bub won’t feed at the
breast. Pump every time your baby would normally feed.

Remember babies rarely wean on their own before 18-24 months, it's likely just a phase so hang in there :)

Julia Daly

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.