AWAY FROM NIPPLES
My 4 1/2 month old daughter has started to pull away and yank
on my nipples when nursing. As a result my nipples are getting
sore. I used to enjoy nursing and would like to continue. What
can I do to break her of this bad habit?
There are a number of reasons for babies to become fussy at the
breast after they have passed the newborn period (the first six
weeks or so). One is that babies become much more social during
this time. A newborn infant will blissfully nurse for an hour
or more, totally oblivious to his surroundings. There could be
a major earthquake, and a newborn would nurse right through it,
because newborns love to suckle. Once a baby learns to actively
interact and smile at you, she becomes much more distractible.
She wants to nurse, but she also wants to play and smile at you
at the same time. She is very interested in his surroundings,
and wants to look around the room if the TV is on or a sibling
is playing in the corner. It is very difficult to stay attached
to the breast and look around the room at he same time. This can
be very frustrating to babies, and can cause them to fuss and
pull off the breast.
is patience. Your milk lets down vigorously at the beginning of
a feeding, then slows down to a trickle. If your baby keeps nursing,
she will be rewarded with another let-down. While a newborn is
perfectly willing to keep nursing while he waits for another let-down
(remember, he doesn't have much else to do that's fun at that
point), an older baby may get antsy after the initial flow of
milk slows down, and may not be willing to continue nursing while
she waits for another let-down.
babies will get all the milk they need in less than five or ten
minutes. Your let-down reflex is well established by this time,
and babies become very efficient at nursing. The baby who pulls
off the breast after a few minutes and refuses to take the second
side may simply have gotten her fill. Many older babies will also
begin to fight sleep, especially in the evenings.
will fight sleep even while their eyelids are drooping and you
know for a fact that they are exhausted. Most babies at this age
do better with the early am and middle of the night feedings,
but fuss with every feeding in between. Does she do better with
some feedings versus others, or fuss all the time?
With a four
month old, teething can definitely be a factor as well. I had
two out of six babies get their first teeth at four months, and
teething can go on for weeks or months before babies actually
get their first teeth. Some babies like to nurse more when they're
teething, and some don't like they way it feels when their gums
rub the nipple. It may help to let her chomp on something (a teething
toy, a knuckle, or a frozen washcloth) before you nurse her or
when she pulls off.
Has she had
a cold recently? Sometimes stuffy noses can make babies pull off
the breast or bottle because it's hard to suck and breathe at
the same time.
Try to minimize
distractions when you feed her, and see if this stage continues.
Hopefully she'll settle down somewhat, but she will probably never
go back to nursing like a newborn again.
If you like this article, we'd be honored if you shared it using the button below.
to Anne's main page | Next Question