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Baby is ill and has gone on nursing strike. Is this it?(11 Posts)
DS (almost 10 months) has been ill since Sunday with some weird mix of ear infection, fluey cold and sickness bug. He's gone on nursing strike: lots of crying, screaming, arching his back when I try to put him to the breast, and it's got to the point now that he won't even take a bottle from me, only from DH. He was feeding first thing in the morning, but he refused even to do that today. Does this mean he's done breastfeeding? If not, is there anything I can do to convince him back to it? I'm feeling surprisingly rejected by it!
The jaw action from breastfeeding maybe making his ear sore, drinking from a bottle is a very different action. You milk will be fine, just wait until he is feeling better and I'm sure hell be back. Try not to give him formula and to express instead if he is still being sick as its much easier for them to digest.
DD had an ear infection before 6 months, wouldn't take a bottle and I had to feed her with a little sippy cup. She was back to being breastfed after though.
Hope he feels better soon.
I had this recently-my little one went on strike when she had HFMD. I thought that was it and was really upset and felt very rejected- you are definitely not alone in that! However, it’s apparently very unlikely that a baby will self wean until 18 months +, but a nursing strike due to illness can make people think they are self weaning.
What I did was give her a bottle whenever she would take it, pump to keep up supply and prevent mastitis, and as she recovered, offer the breast when she was sleepy or asleep. We also did a lot of skin to skin. It worked- she started taking the breast when asleep, then as she got better she suddenly seemed to remember how to feed and is now fully back to normal.
Be careful with dehydration. Will he take water from a sippy cup?
Little ones can go off milk or food when full of cold.
You could try giving calpol to relieve any symptoms. He may be finding it hard to breathe and feed from your breast at the same time if his sinuses are bunged up. I find warm baths help, a bit of calpol May do the trick.
My lo has tonsillitis. I hadn’t realised as it’s not always easy to look in a babies throat. I just thought he’d had a bad cold. Once anti biotics kicked in he was as right as rain.
Poor chap, sounds a miserable bug and no wonder he has gone off feeding. I wouldn’t call it a nursing strike so much as a ‘feeling rotten and not wanting anything’ strike. He may also be off milk generally and just wanting clear fluids which is common after a sickness bug, especially if he has cold etc too. Give him a few days and he will be back on the breast, probably with gusto to make up lost calories. In the mean time keep offering him fluids via sippy cup etc and breastfeeds if he wants them. Keep him topped up regularly with calpol and if you can express to maintain supply that would be helpful.
Don’t panic - he isn’t rejecting you and this won’t be the end of breastfeeding - just a temporary blip.
Also worth checking mouth for ulcers etc - any signs of hand foot and mouth? Mine always get colds with HF&M
Oh, thank you all for such reassuring replies!
He's incredibly sick, poor love. He will take a bottle of formula very happily, just not breastmilk (and I know you're not meant to give formula when on nursing strike, but he got dehydrated earlier in the week and ended up in hospital, so I'm not willing to take that risk again). He won't eat solids either (or at least, every time I can cajole some into him, he's hugely sick later in the night). We've been syringing water into him, which is working to some extent.
We're taking him back to the doctor today. He's been on antibiotics since Sunday; they should be working by now if the problem was bacterial, right?
Thank you all so much for the reassurance about the strike. He gets really distressed if the breast is offered; should I keep offering, even though it upsets him, or just give him a break until he's better?
Good you are seeing GP today who will hopefully reassure and can also check his mouth and ears. Fluids are key so I would focus on that rather than food at this stage. If he’s taking formula and keeping it down then stick with that for now, whilst of course keeping breasts accessible (ie no polonecks!) should he wish to have a forage. My instinct would be not to offer breastfeeds as such, but perhaps instead have a cuddle with him in bed with breasts out so he can latch if he wants. Or have a bath together but with no pressure to feed unless he wants to. It is not unusual for babies to become a bit feed / boob phobic after a particularly nasty sickness bug as they associate it with the nasty experience. It won’t be lasting but while he is wary / not feeling the ‘booby love’ I would take all pressure off and let him rediscover breastfeeds once he’s feeling a bit stronger. Do express to keep your supply up though and keep telling yourself this is temporary. I have cared for babies who have had interruptions to breastfeeding for weeks at a time for various reasons (including needing tube feeds) and all have resumed feeding without problem.
And don’t worry about solids, especially if you are having to cajole / he is vomiting afterwards. Stick with milk and fluids for now as that is the priority and you don’t want him becoming wary of food.
Oh bless him. Mine has always wanted more boob when ill.
Thanks so much, Puddlelane, that's really helpful and reassuring. Doctor reckons gastroenteritis so it may well be that feeding is making him feel sick (though weird that he will still take formula?) Irritatingly, I've also got a milk blob covering almost all of one nipple, so am getting very little out of that when I express! What a catalogue of disasters 🤦♀️ thank you so much for your very kind and knowledgeable advice x
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