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Thread: Teaching 5 month old to latch?

  1. #1

    Default Teaching 5 month old to latch?

    Hi girls, thanks for any advice you can give me!

    Has anyone successfully got an older baby to latch? Can it be done? How?

    My wee girl is 5 months old, she BF for the first two weeks and I've been pumping for her since (can't pinpoint why she stopped, doesn't really matter at this point). I've tried to get her back on the breast with the LC ... skin to skin, nipple shields, all the usual tactics, but to no avail yet. Now she's lost most of her natural instincts, so I'm just trying to have "happy time" at the breast, sometimes she gives me the head bob and licks the nipple but that's it. She loves the bottle and is a busy wee thing, have tried co sleeping with her but she's wriggly!

    I guess I'm not ready to stop trying yet and I wonder if I should keep at it and one day she might latch? Or should I just work on accepting that it's never going to happen? I know you all understand how I'm feeling...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Teaching 5 month old to latch?

    Wow, a nursing strike is unusual in a baby that young! I think there are mamas who have had success getting babies to relatch even after months of bottle-feeding, but as always in life there are no guarantees. And the longer the baby has been off the breast, the harder it is likely to be.

    All the ways I know of to end a strike are here: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/...to-breast.html I hope there's something there that you haven't tried!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Default Re: Teaching 5 month old to latch?

    Yes, it can certainly be done! My daughter is a prime example. She nursed and had bottles both for seven weeks and then we had to switch to bottles full time because she just was not able to nurse properly. She could not latch very well and could not get much milk. I was very damaged from her efforts and she was not gaining, so the bottles became quite necessary. On top of poor latching, she had reflux and some other tummy issues that caused her a fair bit of pain, so feeding generally was very tough. She was exclusively bottle-fed with both breastmilk and formula until she was about 5 and a half months old...

    Now she breastfeeds exclusively and has been for almost two months.

    For a couple of weeks before I "officially" tried to put her to breast, I geared up for the real attempt. I was careful with how I bottle fed her, including feeding her in a position similar to how I wanted to nurse her. I held the bottle close to my breast and laid her on a nursing pillow so that she would get used to the sensation again. Before that, I had a very different feeding method for her than for her twin brother (he has been exclusively breastfed since day one), one that was not at all like breastfeeding.

    Every now and then before really gearing up to try to breastfeed her, I would position her like I wanted to nurse her to let her get used to seeing my breast again in a feeding capacity, and see if she showed any interest. She did not, and seemed to have no idea that milk came from a boob and not a silicone nipple attached to a bottle. I think she was confused as to what I wanted and it was a kind of a game to her.

    When I was ready to give her a try, really a try, I set out some tools so that I would have them at the ready in case the timing "felt right." I got out my nipple shield (that I'd had since the hospital from her poor latching and nursing since birth), a bottle with a bit of milk, and a nursing pillow. When her twin was sleeping and she seemed in a very good mood, I gave her a try... At first she had no idea what I wanted. I put on the shield and tried to encourage her to want to suck. No dice. I put a little bit of milk in the end of it to try to entice her. She sampled it then was confused as to what I wanted. So I gave her a few sucks from the bottle to get her in the right direction, then quick took away the bottle and pointed her towards the shield. She sucked a couple of times then stopped, looking for more of a reward and again not really sure of what she should be doing. Back to bottle for a few more sucks, then to the shield... Then back to the bottle, then the shield, and that time she stuck. It wasn't perfect, but she nursed for 10 minutes and got quite a bit to eat.

    The next feeding we did the same thing, and she only needed to be primed once with the bottle. Then again the next feeding. That evening she didn't need the bottle. In the morning she did, as I think overnight she had forgotten a bit of what she had been learning. But after that morning I never had to prime her again. After that, we worked on weaning off the shield but that's a different story... (Nothing major for us, she was off the shield in under 48 hours!)

    Really, I think there was more mental preparation to be done than physical. I had to really get ready for this to make a genuine effort. To get all of my ducks in a row before I began officially beginning trying to train her back. For me there was a different feel in the casual playing around, seeing if she would maybe want to nurse, as opposed to the real "we're going to do this thing" effort, if that makes sense. Although I had been tossing the idea around for a few weeks (not wanting to give up fully, and having the "what if..." rolling around in the back of my mind), I had to get up the courage to really make a go of it. What helped me to make the decision to fully jump in? Going to my first ever LLL meeting. Talking with other breastfeeding mothers, including another mother of twins, helped to get me into the right mindset. I didn't learn anything new practically-speaking for how to try it, but I gained the confidence to try and that made all the difference for us.

    I know this seems like a long reply, but it's kind of the short story to how I helped my daughter back to the breast. If you would like to talk, please send me a message. I would be happy to help in any way that I can.
    Mom to amazing twins! Both nursed happily until 3y6m.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Teaching 5 month old to latch?

    mommal, thanks for the great link

    nicola, thank you so much for your detailed reply. I have so much hope after reading your reply - would you believe my wee girl is also a twin, and her brother also breastfeeds perfectly! I have wondered if I was being too unrealistic trying to get her back on when she is a twin (nobody seems to think you can do it with two) so I am so excited to hear from someone in the same situation as me!
    So insightful to read what you wrote about the mental prep and how the casual playing around was different than really trying, I can see that I need to address that same issue. And yep, the way I feed her is so different from when I BF her brother. (I am also concerned that I may end up feeling more bonded to him because he BFs.) Anyhow I may message you at some point and ask more questions! Thanks so much for your support. Meantime I am off to find the nursing pillow for her

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Default Re: Teaching 5 month old to latch?

    Wow!! How interesting to find another twin mom with the same issue! Funny how these things work out. I hadn't wanted to get too much into the twin thing in my reply as I know it's probably a world of difference for a parent of a singleton, but I think that your time will likely be easier since you have one successfully nursing right now. You know better what to do and how things are working for you right now as opposed to switching over from exclusively pumping for such a long duration, and you're already set up for breastfeeding.

    I completely understand your thoughts regarding bond differentiation between the BF twin and the bottle-fed twin. That definitely played into my decision to try nursing my daughter again. I felt that I really knew my little guy so well, and in comparison didn't know my daughter as well. We've been back to breastfeeding for going on two months and finally, in the last couple of weeks, I'm starting to feel a similar closeness with my daughter. It's not quite the same, not quite as intimate, but exponentially better than before and it's growing every day. One step at a time.

    One thing that I will note then given your (our?) situation is what I noticed with my little boy. When I started breastfeeding my daughter again, my supply obviously changed. I wasn't producing as much as both wanted so I think there was a little bit of frustration there especially with my son who was used to a certain volume. Emotionally, I think my little guy became concerned about the addition of another nursling (even one that he knew very well...). For a couple of weeks after starting with my daughter, my son was a bit clingier, would get upset if he saw me nursing his sister, and generally he seemed a bit down. I think that he was genuinely concerned that I was giving away his spot and that I was inviting someone in to ruin our unique relationship. He also started waking up crying some at night and I think it was due to separation concerns. It was really sad and so frustrating for me because I could not explain it to him... What I did do though, as soon as I caught what was going on, was to make sure to spend some extra cuddle time with him and to make our breastfeeding sessions as intimate as possible. To make sure that he knew that I thought he was the best baby boy in the whole wide world, and the fact that I was now sharing "his" breasts with someone else would never change that fact. We got through it just fine but it was very sad and emotionally-draining at the time. I felt very guilty for a little while and I actually almost stopped trying to breastfeed my daughter because I was afraid of damaging the special bond that I have with my son. But we persevered and I am so glad that we did! Now we're all good, and the only time we have issues is when they're both hungry at once and I have to choose who to feed first. (Usually it's my son...)

    Absolutely best of luck to you!!
    Mom to amazing twins! Both nursed happily until 3y6m.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Teaching 5 month old to latch?

    nicola, thanks so much for the encouragement! - and sharing your experiences re bonding. I hadn't thought about that, so thanks for the heads up. My boy gets EBM bottles sometimes during the day and I have noticed if I give her "his" bottle he gets a little jealous. But then last night I was just having some rare cuddly time settling her back to sleep in bed - but then he woke up so I had to put her back into the cold lonely cot so I could BF him. Oh sometimes it's hard to be a twin mummy! They are such a joy and blessing though! Thanks again muchly and I will keep you in touch with our progress.

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