Friday, February 10, 2012

Breastfeeding Aversion

For the past six weeks I've been dealing with some form of breastfeeding aversion from my (now) 20-week-old. I had been stressing out a great deal, researching websites like KellyMom and more recently Reddit/r/breastfeeding to try and find out why Nathan was suddenly uninterested in eating.

My sweet little baby, who has always been in the 98th percentile in growth for height and weight, who was constantly eating day or night; suddenly refused to breastfeed during the day. Often he would even scream as I would lay him into his typical cradle-hold. The weirdest part was at night, or directly before or after a nap, he would nurse as if nothing had changed. Any chance I got, I researched what could be causing this.

 The possible causes of such behavior included:

  • He was teething, and sucking hurts his gums
  • Showing a preference for bottle, because of improper bottle-feeding
  • Ear infection causing pain when he lays down
  • Because of his age he's suddenly aware of a lot more, thus distracting him from eating
  • Gassy baby from my diet, or in general

Because of the number of different possible causes, I felt a bit overwhelmed with trying to resolve the issue. The first thing my husband and I did was remove all bottles and pacifiers from baby's daily diet. We have continued to do this, and have only rarely given bottles in the last week or so, after having finally decided (after no improvement for 4 weeks) that the bottle preference is not the cause. 

I have also introduced a lot of teething toys and frozen washcloths to him to try and soothe any sore gums, if that is the cause. This seemed to help his mood a few times, but not always. 

We had a pediatrician visit, and there was no ear infection, so that ruled this reason out.

He seems fussier these days, but not really gassy.

So that leaves me with my conclusion that Nathan refuses to breastfeed during the day simply because he is too busy seeing and learning new things! I have been taking him into a dark, quiet room to nurse, and sometimes using a cover even in my own house. This has helped quite a bit! It isn't back to how we were feeding before, but I believe this is the new norm. If he still refuses to eat, he must not actually be hungry enough to prioritize eating. That's what I think, anyway.

I believe around 4 months is when babies start being more aware of their surroundings and are a lot more interested in the world. Whether you have this problem or not, you may want to start nursing him in a quieter, dimmer environment.

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