Sometimes breastfeeding can be challenging. These challenges can change as your baby grows and develops.
3 to 6 months
At three to four months of age, babies become more aware of their environment. They are experiencing rapid changes. Their growth spurts may cause them to wake more often which may be frustrating for parents.
Try to decide whether they are waking to feed or if they are just using you for reassurance and comfort.
Babies at this age need a regular place to settle. They should preferably settle in a darkened quiet room.
Try to ensure they have full feeds during the day and avoid snack feeding. This may help cut down the number of times they wake up and need feeding during the night.
6 to 12 months
When babies are older than six months, they are easily distracted by noise and activity. If you need to breastfeed your baby, give some thought to where you are.
Sometimes distraction can be confused for a lack of interest in the breast. Most babies benefit from quiet and a routine such as regular morning and nightly feeds.
Biting the breast
During breastfeeding if the baby is biting the breast, try to avoid overreacting and raising your voice. It is normal for the baby to experiment and they also may be teething.
Watch for biting signs and remove baby from the breast. If the biting is a response to a slow let down, expressing a small amount of breastmilk to trigger your let down before you offer the breast may help.
Babies may refuse the breast due to discomfort from an ear infection, head cold or teething. There may also be other reasons, such as overtiredness or distraction. Breast refusal can also occur when there is a change in the milk as result of hormonal changes or medications.
The number of feeds your baby needs changes as they grow older. There is a big difference between a four month old who refuses one or two feeds in eight, and a baby of the same age who refuses four out of five feeds.
Things to try:
- Be as patient and calm as you can, and try to distract your baby by doing something completely different.
- Try as much skin-to-skin contact as possible in a relaxed environment.
- Walk and feed simultaneously.
- Feeding your baby while you are both in the bath may help.
- Try breastfeeding baby after a bath when they are warm and relaxed.
- Anticipate your baby’s waking time and lift their to feed while still sleepy – you may slip in extra night feeds this way.
- Try to soothe baby with a dummy.
- Feed in a rocking chair.
- Express some milk into your baby’s open mouth before the feed.
- Try massage or singing to your baby, or soothing background music.
Return of menstrual cycle
Some mothers notice that their babies seem fussy a few days before their period starts and for the first couple of days of the cycle. Your baby will adjust to these changes.
Pregnant and breastfeeding?
It is possible to continue breastfeeding if you fall pregnant.
Sometimes your baby will decide they have had enough. This can make you feel disappointed, sad or even rejected, especially if you were looking forward to many more months of leisurely feeding.
Want to know more?
Women and Newborn Health Services – KEMH Breastfeeding publications
Department of Health – Breastfeeding