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My baby doesn't want to nurse. What's going on?

Breastfeeding "strikes" are very normal and often last only a few days. Still, this can be worrisome, especially in a baby who usually breastfeeds with no problems at all.

So why might your child suddenly stop wanting to breastfeed? Here are some possible reasons:

  • Teething has made your baby's gums sore.
  • You've been stressed or have changed your nursing patterns lately.
  • You smell "different" to your baby because you switched your soap, perfume, deodorant, or lotion.
  • A different taste to your breast milk because of a change in your diet.
  • Something is making breastfeeding painful or uncomfortable, such as an ear infection, a stuffed-up nose, a cut in your little one's mouth, or an oral infection called thrush.
  • Your baby bit you and your reaction scared him or her.

As frustrating as nursing strikes can be, you and your little one can work through them. Here are some more tips La Leche League International offers breastfeeding moms that may help get you past the hump:

  • Try to spend more time with your baby so you can devote some extra time to getting your breastfeeding back on track. Ask a family member, friend, or a babysitter to come over to help out with the chores and any of your other children.
  • Make the experience as enjoyable for your baby as possible — hugging, caressing, and kissing your little one, and stopping to comfort whenever he or she gets upset or frustrated.
  • Try nursing when your baby is sleepy and may be more willing to cooperate.
  • Nurse while you're rocking your baby or walking around while carrying him or her in a sling.
  • Breastfeed in a quiet room with few distractions.
  • Try stimulating your milk let-down by pumping or hand expressing before starting to breastfeed so your baby gets the milk right away.

Until your nursing schedule is back to normal, you'll need to pump or hand express to keep your milk supply up and to make sure the baby is getting enough to eat. And if your child is really ready to stop breastfeeding (or wean), he or she will probably do it over a period of weeks or months.

In the meantime, both you and your baby can enjoy the special closeness and bonding that breastfeeding can offer.

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