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Health Facts

General Health


Toddlers & Children




Breast Refusal

Breast refusal is sometimes referred to as "nursing strikes" and can occur at any time during the experience of breastfeeding.

This situation is usually only temporary and often easily remedied. It is not an indication that the baby is rejecting you personally or that the weening is due to insufficient breastmilk

There are many reasons that have been identified with this behaviour. Rarely is it because the baby no longer wishes to breastfeed.
Some possible explanations are

  • Return of menstruation in the mother
  • Changes in odour or aromas of the mother ie change in perfume deodorant etc
  • An unwell baby especially those suffering a cold with nasal obstruction or earache
  • Increased distractability often related to the age of the baby
  • Change in sleep patterns ie training to sleep through the night.
  • Separation

If nursing strikes last more than a day or two expressing mothers milk will be necessary. Depending on the age of the baby expressing may be necessary the day the nursing strike occurs. Expressing the mother's milk regularly will avoid decreased supply and prevent engorgement and its associated consequences.

Interventions aimed at returning the baby to the breast will be determined once a Lactation Consultant has identified the cause/causes.

These may include

  • Feeding in a quiet room away from TV and other sources of distraction
  • Increasing mother baby skin to skin contact. Eg bathing together without attempting to breastfeed.

Factual information from and guidance from a Lactation Consultant can help avoid untimely and unnecessary weaning.