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Thread: 4 Month Old Nursing Strike or Teething Pain?

  1. #1

    Default 4 Month Old Nursing Strike or Teething Pain?

    Hi! My 4 month old within the past few days has started screaming when I put him to the breast. It is extremely distressing! I feel like maybe he is teething? In the middle of the night and in the morning he will eat calmly and like normal, but for the rest of the day and evening he just cries and screams as soon as I put him into the position to breast feed, he does not even latch. I've tried different positions, traditional cradle, football, standing and walking, laying down, bathtub, sitting on my knee... I've gotten him latched in the tub and while standing and walking around but not for long enough to do a full feeding. I've tried expressing some milk so he knows it's there and we've already dealt with oversupply and spraying in the past and that's pretty much resolved. Tonight he had a bottle because I didn't know what else to do. Is this a nursing strike? Any suggestions? I plan to ask his Doctor tomorrow because he has his 4 month appointment but I wanted to see what advice I could find tonight! Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    New Brunswick, Canada

    Default Re: 4 Month Old Nursing Strike or Teething Pain?

    A few ideas for you...
    One thought is that as baby grows, his stomach is growing too. As he gets older, he may begin to go longer between feedings. As with everything, use your judgement. Always, as comes naturally, watch his pees and poos.
    Have you noticed changes in your supply? Over the course of the day?
    Let me just quote this section of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding eighth edition (2010). (LLL's main book)
    pg. 152 - 153: "The four-month fussies
    Your baby's growing awareness has its temporary downside. At an LLL meeting a while back, a mother arrived with a four-month-old, saying he had begun "nursing funny." Another mother in the room said, "My baby's four months old, too, and she's started nursing funny.: And another mother spoke up with the same age baby and same concern. We dubbed it the "Four-Month Fussies" but didn't have a perfect solution for them beyond nursing in a quiet room, minimising distractions, time and nursing in whatever position the baby seemed to need. The group concluded that by around four months, babies had gained enough intellectual ability to tune in to the room around them, but didn't yet have enough grey matter to tune in and nurse well.
    Two of the mothers came back a few months later. "Are your babies still nursing funny?" we asked. They didn't know what we were talking about! It had passed so quickly that they had forgotten about it.
    With some sensitive babies, this stage can be a bit more frustrating and challenging. Very distractible babies may let go or stop nursing every time they hear a new sound or catch some movement out of the corner of their eye. One mother remembered having to nurse alone with a fan on, to block out other sounds, for several weeks. But these babies, too will settle down to nurse easily again when they get a little older."
    Have you tried putting him in a sling? Some moms find their babies are very settled in a sling.
    One thing that LLL is big for is trusting the baby or the child in terms of making sure we are meeting their needs.
    You and your baby have a successful and established breastfeeding relationship.
    Is it possible that this behavior may be a temporary adjustment to his new awareness and distractedness by his environment? Or might he be resisting sleep because he's really interested and distracted by his environment? p.g.178 of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding says: “Many babies at this age sleep well only when they're carried, held or are sleeping on or next to an adult... Do whatever is the least stressful for you and your baby, and don't expect a schedule at this age (four to nine months). “
    Some mothers are able to "trick" the baby to take the breast when the baby is refusing to feed (Maybe something here might work when you don't feel like going for a walk.)
    Pg. # 408 of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding:
    • Sing or rock your baby with your shirt open and see if he'll relax enough to latch.
    • Nurse somewhere different -- while walking around, while sitting in the car, at a friends house, outside, or in a warm bath together.
    • Offer a whole new position -- have him sitting facing you, for instance or put him up against your shoulder and slide him down into a vertical position... (or something else new for you and Justin)
    • Do a dance or a baby bounce -- starting small but getting bouncier and bouncier -- while holding him in a nursing position. (Of course stop if he doesn't like it.)
    Obviously, if you can trick him into nursing, he might just calm himself on your breast and fall asleep there.
    If the baby is more than a couple of weeks old and breastfeeding has been going well, -- mother was comfortable and baby was gaining weight as expected, is is less likely that many of the physical causes would suddenly cause problems now. An exception is some babies with mild tongue tie or respiratory problems, who may do well in the early weeks when the mother's milk production is ample, but as milk production adjusts downward and the baby is unable to feed effectively, problems may develop. ... again and as well, distractibility is mentioned here as a cause beginning around 3 months of age.
    Some more suggestions on what you can do. (Mohrbacher, Nancy. Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, p.g. 141 - 3.)
    • Experiment with different positions, starting with semi-reclined positions, to give the baby more control, and hopefully the experience he is more comfortable with.
    • Offer the breast when baby is in a light sleep and less aware
    • Try breastfeeding in a darkened room.
    Hope you'll find something from all of this that can help.
    Anne Marie

  3. #3

    Default Re: 4 Month Old Nursing Strike or Teething Pain?

    I joined LLLI because this is exactly what my little is going through (turned 16w yesterday) and I am at a loss. He was a very punctual eater -- every two hours -- and now can go 4-6 hours without eating much at all. This morning I fed him on all fours and realized I need help! I don't have suggestions but wanted you to know you are certainly not alone.

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