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Why Does My Baby Suddenly Not Want to Nurse?

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated June 13, 2017

It’s known as a nursing strike, and it can hit without warning. If your successfully breastfeeding baby suddenly decides she doesn’t like nursing anymore, a number of reasons could be behind your baby’s refusal to nurse. Although it's challenging, remain patient and continue to encourage your little one to breastfeed to resolve this feeding issue. If you have tried everything and the issue persists, contact your doctor immediately.

Changes You’ve Made

Sometimes a baby can react to changes you have made that can disrupt the nursing pattern or routine. Even seemingly unimportant changes, such as choosing a different brand of deodorant or soap, can affect how a baby breastfeeds. If your work or home routine changes, such as changing jobs or moving, your baby might also react with a nursing strike, warns La Leche League International.


Sometimes anxiety plays a part in a nursing strike. If you and your baby have been separated for a time, your baby might react by refusing to breastfeed after you are back together again, according to If unpleasant stress and overstimulation occurs in your household, your baby could develop anxiety, which can interfere with breastfeeding. Even a strong reaction from you after being bitten could lead to a nursing strike.

Baby Issues

A little one with congestion can have difficulty breathing out of his nose, which might lead him to skip breastfeeding sessions. A sore throat or intestinal illness can also make your baby stop nursing. A baby with an ear infection might experience painful pressure from the horizontal breastfeeding position, which could cause him to skip breastfeeding sessions. Teething pain is another issue that can disrupt breastfeeding and lead a baby to initiate a nursing strike.

Nipple Preference

A baby who receives both bottles and breastfeeding might experience issues with accepting both forms of feeding. Little ones commonly prefer an artificial nipple to the breast if they have a choice -- often because milk flows more easily from the artificial nipple than it does from the breast, reports the El Camino Hospital website. Your baby might begin refusing the breast and waiting for you to offer a bottle.

Supply Issues

Problems with your milk supply might cause a disruption in breastfeeding. If your breasts become engorged -- painfully full of milk -- your baby can have difficulty latching on to the nipple, which might cause frustration. A let-down reflex -- the force with which your milk ejects from the nipple -- might be too strong or too weak. Either scenario could lead to a frustrated baby who opts not to breastfeed, warns the El Camino Hospital website.

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