3 Reasons Babies Seem to Lose Interest in Breastfeeding

January 19, 2016
3 Reasons Babies Seem to Lose Interest in Breastfeeding

Do you feel like your baby is losing interest in breastfeeding? It’s not uncommon for some moms to feel this way at some point in their breastfeeding journey, and there are various reasons why it can happen. Before you assume your little one is weaning, explore other possible causes. These are just a few reasons for a seemingly sudden disinterest in breastfeeding:

Your Baby is Exploring the World

Around 3-4 months, babies become more aware of and interested in the world around them. They want to look around during feedings, coming on and off the breast. In other words – they’re distractible. This is completely normal, and simply means that feedings might take longer because your baby wants to check out everything that’s going on around them. Chances are your baby is still very interested in breastfeeding—you might just want to consider a calmer environment with fewer distractions.

Your Baby is Becoming an Expert

Another totally normal reason your baby may seem to be losing interest in breastfeeding is because they’re getting good at it! Babies become more efficient at nursing around 3-4 months, which means they may decrease the number of times they breastfeed each day and the duration for which they need to breastfeed.

Your Baby is on a Nursing Strike

Sometimes babies will suddenly stop breastfeeding. This is called a “nursing strike” and tends to happen between 7 and 11 months. If this happens, you may think your little one is no longer interested in breastfeeding, but there are many different reasons why your baby may refuse to feed:

  • Baby is teething, or has an ear infection or cold, which makes it painful for them to breastfeed
  • There may be a change in the taste or amount of your breast milk. This is typically caused by a hormone change, like your periods resuming, the use of estrogen-containing birth control, a breast infection, or even pregnancy
  • Changes in your breastfeeding routine, such as returning to work or school
  • Your baby’s dislike of a new soap, perfume, or fragranced lotion

Regardless of the reason your baby seems disinterested in breastfeeding, the most important thing you can do is be calm and patient with your baby. Most of the time it’s a very temporary situation that will fix itself. You shouldn’t necessarily assume your child is weaning. Continue to pump milk as often as you would breastfeed and make sure your baby stays comfortable at the breast, even if he or she isn’t feeding.

Managing a nursing strike can be stressful, and if it lasts more than a few days be sure talk to a Lactation Consultant or healthcare provider for help figuring out a solution.

Has your baby ever lost interest in breastfeeding? Share your experiences and tips for moms who might be dealing with this issue in the comments below.

12 thoughts on “3 Reasons Babies Seem to Lose Interest in Breastfeeding

  1. I went through a 5 day nursing strike with my 9 month old LO. He was diagnosed with an ear infection and he was very congested so I am thinking this is what caused it. I was so devastated when I thought that our nursing relationship was coming to an end. I was probably in tears for 2 days straight. He would just scream and arch his back when I brought him to me to feed. I tried just holding him against me without any pressure to feed to calm him down. Eventually he decided to nurse again after 5 days.

  2. My daughter started to refuse to nurse around 7 months old. I continued to try and nurse her for about 2 weeks or so and she still didn’t want to. So I began exclusively pumping. It wasn’t easy but she loved drinking from a sippy cup.
    So I pumped until she turned one. I’m glad that even though she didn’t want to nurse that I was still able to provide her with breastmilk until her first birthday! I did what worked best for us!

  3. My 10 week old has been not taking feeds from me for a few days. He has been screaming and takes my milk better by bottle. At night (eArly hours of morning) he can feed 2/3 times from me but then after that when its wake up for the day he screams and won’t take. Makes me feel like a failure and miss it so much. Currently been suffering colic/ reflux and didn’t know if that’s the temporary problem. Just hope it soon gets sorted out.

  4. My daughter is almost 3 months old and she isnt gaining enough weight. So I went out and bought a scale to weigh her before and after she nurses. She will be on me for 15-30 minutes each breast and after she eats, I weigh her and she only gains like 1- 1.5oz. She suckles but I dont know if she is sucking hard enough. Im pumping every 3 hours and bottle feeding her and sometimes she refuses to eat the bottle. I dont know why she is not efficient at nursing. She does however have reflux. I just want to know if anyone else experiences this and I’m looking for some advice.

    • Hello Kristina, same here i have a boy 4 months old now. He is also strugling to gain weight. His weight on the dropping pattern. He is fully breastfed baby, one time at night only and day time i try to feed him every 1-1.5,2 hours. He is very distracted baby, he looses interest for one breasth after 3-5 minutes and on the other 2 -3 minutes. When he is going for a nap i keep him on the breasth all that nap time but I don’t know how much he gets milk from that suckling. I tried dark room, i tried carrying him, I tried gently rock him, I even bought breastfeeding necklace to keep him interested. But nothing seems to work.

      • I was wondering if you have considered waiting longer to feed him. Every 1 1/2 -2 hrs seems very close for your baby’s age. Baby may not be hungry at the times you are feeding him. Maybe you could try every 3 hours, even up to 4 hrs, and see if he drinks more so he can empty the breast better and get the good fatty milk at the end. I am breastfeeding my 6th child, so I have done this before, and I know you have to be tired! You are a very dedicated mama! My baby is just so nosy right now! Most of my babies took 20-45 min to nurse each time. Maybe my current baby is just very efficient! I don’t know. She seems to be done so quickly! I wish you the best! Hope things are getting better!

    • Make sure that you talk to your child’s doctor about this concern if you haven’t already. I know a child who has to change the formula they’re on every few months because of his reflux. His momma can’t nurse, she just wouldn’t produce anything.

  5. My son is 5 month old. He was breastfeeding and bootle feeding up until now, but from last One month he does not seem to have any interest in breast feeding. I put him on breast and he start making arch and cry hard. Neither he wants to take bottle.

    He had mouth ulcer at 4 month, I thought may be coz of that he is not taking any feed. ( I spoon fed him). Although it is gone from one week but still he is still not interested. He is underweight and all this is getting very stressful. Can somebody plz help?

    • Hi Ritu,

      We recommend that you follow up with your baby’s healthcare provider, as they would be best suited to assist you. You can also reach out to our Lactation Consultant at http://bit.ly/AskTheLC for one-on-one guidance.

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