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Thread: Weaning 4 month old off nipple shield

  1. #1

    Default Weaning 4 month old off nipple shield

    I was given a nipple shield when my son was 1 week old to help him with latch problems (he wasn't latching on at all until that point). I think he had developed a nipple preference because I supplemented with a bottle after leaving the hospital.I tried from the beginning to wean him off of it intermittently, but haven't had any luck. He's 4 months old now. In the last month or so, I've been able to get him to latch and eat several times but it's short lived - usually he pulls off after a minute or two and cries until I put the shield back on. I've tried starting without the shield, starting with it on and removing it before let down, and starting with it on and removing it after letdown, and it doesn't seem to make a difference in whether he will latch. When I am able to get him to latch and eat I let down much more quickly and I can tell from his swallow pattern that he seems to be getting more milk. He has had slow weight gain from the beginning, but within the normal range - he's 13 lbs 7 oz now versus 8 lbs 4 oz at birth. He's having lots of wet/dirty diapers a day, probably 8-9 wet and 4-5 dirty a day. I have heard that at some point older babies just stop using nipple shields but I'm worried that the longer I keep him on it the more accustomed to it he has become. Does anyone have strategies for weaning off the shields? I don't want to force it too much, at times when I've tried to remove the shield every feeding or several times per feeding he has gotten very fussy and has verged on being on a nursing strike. The shield has definitely affected my ability to nurse in public and seems to be affecting milk transfer as well.
    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Weaning 4 month old off nipple shield

    Hi breeav, it sounds to me you are approaching this in a good way-weaning off shields can be a long process and trying regularly to encourage baby to nurse without them, but without too much pressure so baby does not become too upset, seems to work best for most. Have you checked out the www.kellymom.com article about shields? I also think her 'help, my baby won't nurse' article has lots of nice ideas that can be adapted for weaning off shields.

    As far as milk production-are you pumping at all, or have you in the past? this additional milk extraction is sometimes needed to keep milk production in good shape when using shields.
    Have you ever seen an ibclc or anyone to help figure out if there is a physical issue preventing good latch without the shield?
    When I am able to get him to latch and eat I let down much more quickly and I can tell from his swallow pattern that he seems to be getting more milk.
    I wonder if it is possible that baby is so used to the slower flow with the shield that normal flow feels to fast for him. Have you tried adopting a leaning back posture when nursing to help lessen the flow when nursing without the shield?
    What latch and/or positioning techniques do you use, or have tried?
    Does baby like to comfort nurse?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Weaning 4 month old off nipple shield

    I used to pump each time I supplemented but haven't been pumping after feedings since I weaned off of supplementing - I was concerned about oversupply and at the time I seemed to have issues with overactive letdown (he would pull off and cough if I got him latched without the shield.) Right now I pump once a day in the evening or any time he takes a bottle when I'm not around. I saw an LC at the hospital and have seen a peer advisor through my WIC office, but it's been a while and haven't had a lot of luck getting him to latch. I'm not really in a position where I can afford a lactation consultant. But it seems like sometimes his latch is a bit shallow when he does latch, about half the time I feel a bit of pain for a couple of minutes. Generally I nurse in a cradle hold (the cross cradle was never comfortable for us). I have tried reclining, but not as much recently and may give that a try. Another thing is he's very tall so it's difficult to get into a lot of positions I've had suggested - like it's impossible to get him in a football hold, which I've heard is helpful when weaning of of shields. I've had a bit of luck with the laid back nursing technique, but it's difficult as I don't have a recliner and usually nurse in a rocking chair.He absolutely loves to comfort nurse, he does a lot of comfort sucking and his feeding sessions are pretty long as a result - before they were around an hour and a half per session, right now it's right around 40 minutes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2014

    Default Re: Weaning 4 month old off nipple shield

    I used a nipple shield until around 4 months... We had a tongue tie and while that easy being sorted my lo had bottles resulting in a confused latch.

    At the 4 month mark we saw an LC who told us her latch was too shallow. We used breast compression, breast sandwiches and the flipple to improve her latch and saw an osteopath. We saw the Lc on the Thursday and the Osteo on the Friday and by the weekend we were off the shields. Her latch wasn't perfect (ouch with no shield) but within a few more days her latch was at the point where it no longer hurt!

    Her feeding lengths went from 2 hours to about 40 mins and now at 7 months it's more like 10 minutes or even shorter!

    Now I'm not saying this stuff will necessarily work for you... Your baby may need the shield for different reasons to mine... But I would you tube breast sandwich and the flipple to help your baby latch without the shield and they are free to try! If you can afford a LC then obviously they can give more personalized advice... Mine spotted that she was making her latch shallow around the shield within a couple of minutes.

    My daughter still had to get used to let downs squirting her throat, as the shield prevented that.

    On a positive note; while the shield is a pain it has allowed you to nurse these last few months and that is awesome! (I had to remind myself of this a lot!)

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