A baby who is truly ready to wean will almost always do so gradually, over a period of weeks or months. If your baby or toddler has been breastfeeding well and suddenly goes on a `nursing strike`, be patient. Most nursing strikes are over in a couple of days, with the baby back to breastfeeding.
Nursing strikes happen for many reasons. They are usually a temporary reaction to an external factor, although sometimes their cause is never determined. Here are some of the most common triggers of nursing strikes:
- You`ve changed your deo, soap, perfume, lotion, etc., and you smell `different` to your baby.
- You`ve been under stress (such as having extra company, travelling, moving, dealing with a family crisis).
- Your baby or toddler has an illness or injury that makes nursing uncomfortable (an ear infection, a stuffy nose, thrush, a cut in the mouth).
- Your baby has sore gums from teething.
- You`ve recently changed your nursing patterns (started a new job, left the baby in a creche).
- You reacted strongly when your baby bit you and the baby was frightened.
Getting over the nursing strike and getting your baby back to the breast takes patience and persistence. Get medical attention if an illness or injury seems to have caused the strike. See if you can get some extra help with your household chores and older children so that you can spend lots of time with the baby. Stop and comfort your baby if he or she gets upset when you try to nurse.
Remember that your baby isn`t rejecting you, and that breastfeeding will almost always get back to normal with a little time.