It is common thought that the first few weeks of breastfeeding are the most challenging. You are going through a lot of changes and adjustments. Once you get the hang of things and fall into a rhythm, things generally get easier. That doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing without any hiccups as time goes on. Older babies present different challenges than newborns. Today, we will explore a few of the challenges you might run into:
Roaming hands: As babies get older, they gain dexterity and start to develop their fine motor skills. They will love to exercise these skills while nursing, exploring their surroundings with their hands: pinching your skin, pulling your tummy, sticking fingers in your nose and mouth. With these babies, it’s best to give them something to play with while nursing. A simple small toy to hold or wearing a nursing necklace will allow them to play without causing injury to mom.
Distracted baby: Around 5 months or so, babies start to become aware of their surroundings. They might latch on, nurse, and pull off suddenly to look around them. Noises or sudden movement might cause several pull-offs within a nursing session. You can try to prevent this by nursing in a quiet spot, sometimes even a darkened room, without TV or foot traffic.
Biting: As those teeth come in, some babies try to test them. Usually, it’s towards the end of a feeding and your baby is playing around with their new teeth. Sometimes, your reaction is enough to deter them from trying it again. Other times, they find the reaction entertaining! Watch your baby and when they are done eating, end the feeding. You’ll learn to spot that certain look in their eyes right before they bite.
Nursing Strikes: Suddenly, typically between 9-15 months, your baby refuses to nurse. Various reasons can be behind this: teething, recent illness, low milk supply, distractions from the world around them… It’s usually short-lived. Don’t take it personally and don’t mistake it as self-weaning. It is rare for a baby to self-wean before 18-24 months. If your baby refuses to nurse, pump to protect your supply and continue to offer the breast in a gentle manner. Try to limit distractions. Before you know it, your baby will be back to nursing!