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How to Stop a Nursing Strike – 7 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Baby Back to Breastfeeding

How to Stop a Nursing Strike – 7 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Baby Back to Breastfeeding

A nursing strike can be devastating to a mama.

Breastfeeding wasn’t easy when my son was born. We had SO many complications.

I had to exclusively pump for a while after I had a biopsy done on a suspicious mass. On top of that, my nipples were severely damaged due to his tongue tie.

Once I was ready to resume nursing, my baby wasn’t having it.

Every time I tried to latch him on, he turned his head away. He cried. He hit my chest.

And you know what it felt like? Rejection.

It may sound silly, but I felt totally and completely rejected and unloved by my son.

I was determined to get him back to the breast. And I did! Here’s how.

What to do if your baby is on a nursing strike

1. Use a nipple shield

If your baby is used to getting a bottle, the texture of your nipple will feel different than a bottle nipple.

Using a nipple shield can give him a more familiar texture to latch onto.

If you have short or flat nipples, this will make it easier for baby to latch as well. 

You don’t have to use a shield forever, but just give it a try. You can worry about weaning him off the shield once he’s back in the nursing groove.

2. Skin-to-skin

happy mother with baby

Spend as much time bonding with baby skin-to-skin as you can.

Even if the baby isn’t a newborn.

Skin-to-skin contact provides bonding and helps both mom and baby relax.

3. Dream Feed

mother breastfeeds the baby in the evening

My youngest briefly went on a nursing strike when she was 14 months old. I was devastated, thinking she was self-weaning.

She refused to latch for over 26 hours. I went into her room around 3am, scooped her sleeping body up, and brought her in bed with me.

In her mostly-still-asleep state, she latched right on. (Whew!)

If your baby is asleep but you know he’s due for a feed soon, this is the perfect time to try to get him to latch.

RELATED: Dream Feed: What It Means For Your Baby And How To Do It?

4. Warm your hands

Young woman breastfeeding her baby at home

When you feed your baby, make sure your hands aren’t cold.

Imagine if someone tried to touch your face, neck, etc. and they had ice cold hands. You’d move away, too!

If you notice your hands feel cold, run them under warm water or warm them up with a towel fresh from the dryer. Cold hands = uncomfortable baby.

5. Switcheroo

You ready, mama? This is the #1 thing that got my baby boy nursing again.

When it was time for a feed, I got ready to nurse. Boob out, nipple shield on. Then, I took a bottle of expressed breast milk and started feeding it to him.

I had him laying on the nursing pillow and in a similar position as I would have him if he were nursing.

Once he drank an ounce or so and was nice and relaxed, I quickly pulled the bottle out of his mouth and latched him on the breast.

It happened so quickly he didn’t even seem to notice! (This really worked best when he was sleepy.)

6. De-stress

Woman meditating at home

Believe me, I know how stressful it is when baby is on a nursing strike.

I know how it feels to desperately want your baby to latch. It’s anxiety-provoking! If you are stressed, baby will be stressed.

Be sure to take a few deep breaths and relax all the muscles in your neck, jaw, and shoulders.

7. Try again

If baby doesn’t latch this time, try again. Keep trying. The odds are in your favor that baby will eventually latch again. Don’t give up, mama! Keep going!


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Wednesday 8th of March 2023

Thanks. I'm at my wit's end with my 10 month old. Not only is he not sleeping at night, now he doesn't want to nurse either. It's been about 31 hours! I've been pumpingvand giving him bottles. Is it hard to wean off the nipple shield? I'm ready to try anything. I think I scared him because recently he started biting me (he's had teeth for awhile, not sure why he's doing it now) and I scolded him. I feel so guilty? But on one hand, he didn't wake up as often last night. So maybe good will come of it!