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Thread: Baby Refusing Breast Initially at Bedtime Only

  1. #1

    Default Baby Refusing Breast Initially at Bedtime Only

    Hi all,

    My almost 9 month old, who has always favored nursing over the bottle, is now refusing the breast in the evening just before she goes to bed. We do baby-led weaning and she eats about 2-3 small meals a day (she never would eat purees and will only eat if she can feed herself). She bfs on demand, but mostly before going down for a nap and sometimes briefly after. She naps twice a day usually with the first nap from about 10-11:30 and the second from about 1-3pm. She goes down to bed around 5:30 or 6:00 typically, but sometimes takes a short cat nap, wakes up, and stays up a little later. She has always nursed right before bed and then goes down drowsy. She nurses all night long (usually every 2 hours).

    The last 2 nights she has refused the breast before bed, but taken it all other times of the day/night. She will take the breast after I give her a small amount in the bottle initially. I'm wondering if anyone else's LO has done this. I am thinking she is teething and wants the bottle because it hurts her gums less than nursing. She doesn't have any teeth yet. She is also a thumb sucker, but seems hesitant to suck her thumb at this time as well.

    I can't cut out the bottle because I work full-time. I'm try to make it to a year of bf and then see where we are from there, but it's getting more and more difficult.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Baby Refusing Breast Initially at Bedtime Only

    9 months is the prime age for onset of a nursing strike, and these can happen whether a baby ever has bottles or not. Of course we also know that regular bottles can, in some cases, lead to eventual breast refusal.

    This is only one nursing session a day so far, right? So it is much too early to say this is going to turn into a full blown strike. Might just be something to keep an eye on. If baby does not nurse at bedtime, when will baby cue to nurse again? just shortly after, right? Yes teething might be part of the picture but it seems odd that would only affect one nursing session, and also why would baby be ok to nurse after the bottle in that case? So I wonder if the bottle is necessary. Baby knows where the milk is and how to get it out. If baby is not interested, I would suggest getting baby down another way and maybe consider not trying to get baby to nurse by first giving a bottle. If you like, there are other 'instant reward' techniques for encouraging nursing that do not involve bottles.

    Some other things to consider.
    is it possible baby is getting too much milk or solids too close to the end of the workday?

    Is it possible baby is associating this 'bedtime session' with sleep and is fighting sleep?

    When baby nurses overnight, I assume baby is nursing to sleep? But at bedtime, baby only would nurse until drowsy, rather than all the way to sleep? I am not sure it means anything but that seems interesting to me.

    ideas for reluctant nurser: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

  3. #3

    Default Re: Baby Refusing Breast Initially at Bedtime Only

    Hi, thanks for your post. I'll try to answer all of your questions.

    Yes, this is only one nursing session per day so far. My thought about teething was that it might simply hurt more in the evening right before bed. Not sure if that's the case, but it seemed like one possible explanation for the strike during only this session. I tried putting her down without nursing, but she cried (which she rarely does, and this was a real cry, not just the whine that comes from not wanting to go to bed sometimes).

    No, I don't think she is full from solids or other nursing sessions close to the end of the day. She is definitely hungry because when I put her on the breast after the bottle she had a long session on both breasts. I only gave her 1 oz in the bottle to get her going.

    I also don't think she is using this session to fight sleep. She is a really good sleeper and usually goes down without too much protest. She sometimes even seems relieved to be in bed. I also nurse her before all naps, so I can't imagine why she wouldn't protest those sessions as well.

    Yes, sometimes she is asleep when she nurses overnight, but sometimes she wakes up and is just drowsy. I put her down in her crib as soon as she finishes eating (I don't let her comfort suck; we don't co-sleep and I get her back in her crib and go back to my bed as soon as she finishes eating, whether she is asleep or not). She is also awake during all other sessions during the day. Before bed she does only nurse until drowsy and then goes down in her crib.

    Thanks for the Kellymom link. I'll just try to keep an eye on this and see where it takes us. I really am curious if anyone else has had a similar situation with one session going first and then a full-on strike, or a LO only striking for one session and then going back to nursing regularly.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Baby Refusing Breast Initially at Bedtime Only

    Well teething is definitely thought to be one possible cause of nursing strike so teething certainly could be at least part of what is going on. Also if a small amount of milk in the bottle is helping then I don't really see a big problem with it, except of course it might lead baby to expect this every night and at other times as well. Generally speaking, more and more bottles means less and less nursing overall.

    One other thing to consider is that comfort nursing is a normal part of nursing. It is normal and typical for a baby to nurse to sleep whether or not mom and baby sleep together. Encouraging a baby to not nurse to sleep is actually a weaning technique. Now whether this would cause your baby to not want to nurse at bedtime specifically I have no idea but it's just another thought.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Baby Refusing Breast Initially at Bedtime Only

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*maddieb View Post
    Well teething is definitely thought to be one possible cause of nursing strike so teething certainly could be at least part of what is going on. Also if a small amount of milk in the bottle is helping then I don't really see a big problem with it, except of course it might lead baby to expect this every night and at other times as well. Generally speaking, more and more bottles means less and less nursing overall.

    One other thing to consider is that comfort nursing is a normal part of nursing. It is normal and typical for a baby to nurse to sleep whether or not mom and baby sleep together. Encouraging a baby to not nurse to sleep is actually a weaning technique. Now whether this would cause your baby to not want to nurse at bedtime specifically I have no idea but it's just another thought.
    Last night she nursed before bed as usual. I think she may have been overtired the previous two evenings. Those 2 nights she had a catnap and stayed up a little later than usual. I'm starting to think that may have been the issue.

    Yes, we nurse to sleep sometimes, but we had trouble getting her to go down around the 6 month mark and needed to start putting her down awake, forcing her to self-sooth. She would wake up immediately when I put her down if I put her down when she nursed to sleep before bed. It created a nightmare of a bedtime routine and I wasn't happy with it. Therefore, we now only nurse to sleep when she is really tired/sick, or in the middle of the night. It works for us and she is used to it. Thanks for your replies.

    I hope this might help someone else going through a similar issue. I will continue to update this forum if things change again.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Baby Refusing Breast Initially at Bedtime Only

    Thank you for the update! Glad things went better last night. Yes of course what works for bedtime routine will vary family to family. When it comes up I do like to point out that nursing to sleep is normal because moms are so often incorrectly admonished to never nurse baby to sleep.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Baby Refusing Breast Initially at Bedtime Only

    Hi everyone,

    I am new here and am happy to find and provide help

    I've been through this with twins. They are 12 months old now and I can tell you:
    1. it will get better!
    2. mine do not sleep through every night either still...

    But there are things you can experiment with:
    1. Osanit. That's homeopathic stuff helping with itching teetch (you can get it in any pharmacy, it is cheaper in online pharma though!)
    2. Sleepy Relax. Those are discs you put under your cot's feet to turn it into a cradle (you better check on your own what it is exactly on the manufacturer's website: thesleepyhelp.com)
    3. Put something in the bed that smells of you
    4. Make the bed warm before you put your baby down
    5. Have some white noise on

    I hope any of this will help!

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