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Even though I’ve breastfeed both of our boys, I had never heard of a breastfeeding strike or nursing strike until a week ago.
Babies are extremely sensitive creatures and the slightest startle could be enough to throw them off of their nursing game. This typically happens when babies are teething and bite mama during nursing. If you yelp or tell your baby “no!” sternly, it could be enough to startle them into a nursing strike.
A strike is different than weaning.
Weaning is a gradual process that you’ll notice over time. Baby will start to drop feedings and will be less and less interested in breastfeeding.
Sudden weaning isn’t weaning – it’s a strike!
If your little one decides to go on strike, here are a few things you can do to ease them out of it.
First of all, realize it isn’t your fault. Even if you yelped during a nursing session, that’s to be expected. You and your little nursling can work through this hiccup.
In my case, it was a sore throat that caused our strike. I knew both of our kids had fevers and I had a horrible sore throat, but they were both eating fine, so I assumed the sore throat had somehow missed them. That is until our one year old started screaming after eating fruit puree and was inconsolable for a few minutes. He was immediately not interested in nursing, a bottle, or any food.
We made an appointment with his pediatrician and his fever had already passed. What hadn’t passed, was his complete aversion to nursing.
He would literally scream and kick at me if I tried to nurse him. He’d turn his head away and refuse to even try to latch. Nursing while he slept didn’t work and even trying to catch him when he was just about to fall asleep didn’t help us, like it has for so many other moms in the same position.
How I Solved Our Nursing Strike
Do NOT give baby a bottle or pacifier.
If they’re still nursing, they still have the need to comfort nurse and you can use that to your benefit.
In fact, offering soothing in the form of a fake nipple of any kind could very well spell the end of your nursing relationship.
Instead, spoon feed, cup feed, or try my number one trick – keep reading!
Don’t force the issue.
I know it’s hard, but no matter how much you beg and plead, baby has their mind made up that nursing is scary and/or painful, so we need to convince them they’re wrong.
Don’t give up. Keep offering nursing, but if your baby shows no interest or shows a complete aversion to the idea, just say “okay, we’ll try again later, let’s play” or “let’s snuggle instead.”
Keep the idea of nursing as stress-free as you possibly can.
Finally, the number one trick that worked for us…
We were in the car waiting to go into a restaurant for lunch while both of our boys finished their naps in their car seats. While we waited for them to wake up, I pumped a bottle in the front seat and then told my husband I was going to feed it to Tinson before we went inside. I took a straw into the backseat with me, because I’d been cup feeding him to avoid nipple confusion, but a straw is much less messy.
He was starting to stir, so I offered him to nurse. He was completely against the idea. I filled the straw with breast milk and he happily ate it. The trick was to have him right at the breast as I fed him the straws of breast milk. I made him follow the straw around as I waved it in front of him so it wasn’t as easy as just being given breast milk, he had to work for it.
But, if he’d just nurse, he wouldn’t have to chase this straw around, he could just eat!
Finally, after only 4 straws filled with breast milk and about 5 sleepless nights, he latched and started to nurse!
I hit my husband in the head from the backseat and gave him the thumbs up.
His expression was one of “oh thank GOD maybe we will sleep again!”
He’s been nursing ever since!
I happily reported my success to my best blogging friends and Carly (from mommyonpurpose.com) said “oh, like an SNS?”
Umm, sure! Whatever that is?
It turns out, and if you breastfeed you probably already know this, there are lots of awesome Supplemental Nursing Systems on the market that do exactly what I’m suggesting, only way less redneck and without McDonald’s straws. Here are the top selling Supplemental Nursing Systems on Amazon:
If you have a baby who’s on a nursing strike, and an Amazon Prime membership, I’d absolutely recommend trying an SNS system. However, in a pinch, grab a straw, a breast pump, and make it work. It worked for us!
Some other things you should absolutely do with your striking baby:
Take a bath.
This one was actually recommended to me by a lactation consultant. Sometimes the change in breastfeeding scenery (not in the usual rocking chair or wherever you typically nurse) coupled with the relaxation of a bath can be enough to encourage baby to try to nurse again.
Skin to skin
It’s not just for newborns! It’s great for your nursing relationship for baby to smell you (so while we’re at it, no switching laundry detergents, perfumes, or deodorants while you’ve got a striking baby on your hands), so spend lots of time snuggling.
Just like skin to skin only way more convenient when you’ve got chores, other kids…basically a life. If you can’t skin-to-skin and snuggle, baby wear. ABW – Always be wearing.
I now understand what these poor parents go through who have babies who absolutely won’t sleep through the night. We immediately switched to cosleeping/bedsharing with our first son because he would actually sleep that way. Our second son just came right into bed with us. This nursing strike was our first experience with pacing the floors at night, driving around to knock him out in his car seat, and spending 3 nights sleeping in our car from 3 am to 6 am just so we could survive the day.
If you’re the parent of a baby who won’t sleep at night, I seriously tip my hat to you. I think I would have moved out if this went on much longer. Just kidding. Kinda.
Have you gone through a nursing strike and lived to tell about it? Please, please, PLEASE let me know in the comments below what worked for you!