There are several reasons why your baby sometimes no longer feels comfortable at the breast. After a few months, six months, a year and beyond, children may suddenly have difficulty breastfeeding. Many mothers then think that this means the end of breastfeeding. This certainly does not have to be the case. When you know the cause, you can take the right action and you can almost always continue breastfeeding as long as you feel comfortable together. In the first year, a baby will not just wean itself because he/she would ‘have had enough’. In that first year, a child is largely dependent on mother’s milk. That is why we first look at the possible causes and then at the possible solutions for what is popularly referred to as ‘breast refusal’.

9 tips

Too busy to drink
Your child is in pain somewhere
Your child is or becomes ill
The taste of the milk or mom’s smell is different
Your child eats too much supplementary food and/or drinks too much other drink
The milk flow is less or the let-down reflex is late waiting
Your baby is shocked by something
Back at the breast: a summary

Too busy to drink

Your child may find discovering the world and learning to crawl or walk sometimes much more interesting than drinking at the breast. He therefore does not ask for it and when you offer him the breast, he rejects it because he prefers to get on with what he is doing. Now that your baby is getting older, he can also start drinking ‘differently’ at the breast, if there was already a certain pattern. For example, he wants a smaller sip more often because he wants to continue playing and exploring. You may then expect that he should have drunk longer, while he is already satisfied and will come knocking again later for a small sip. Then keep offering you when he has enough, it may very well be that he shows that he does not want now. The bottom line is that your child (both young and older) wants to drink and also drinks best when he indicates that he wants to drink. Even if this is a different pattern than you are used to.

So keep feeding on demand and offer the breast extra when your child is sleepy. The evening and night feedings are particularly suitable for this. When you sleep together, night feeds will be easier to take place without too much (or no) lost sleep. During the day you can let your child play with something while it is drinking at the breast. This could be his favorite stuffed animal, a toy, or a necklace. When your child is easily distracted, you can (temporarily) choose to feed in a quiet environment.


Depending on the age of your child, he can increasingly indicate what he wants. However, sometimes it is unclear. Where before your little one indicated with a few lip movements or a fist in his mouth that he wanted the breast, it may now be the case that the breast is not always what he wants. The world is getting bigger and your child can do more and more. Only specifying exactly what he wants or wants to do is still difficult. Maybe he’s just tired, overstimulated, or wants something he can’t do yet and is getting frustrated because of it. If you then offer the breast and this was not the solution for your child, your older baby or toddler can clearly let you know that it is not the breast that he wants now.
So try to find out what your child really wants or needs and ask if he wants the breast before you actually offer it.

Your child is in pain somewhere

There are children who, in case of pain, want to drink frequently at the breast for comfort and pain relief. But there are also children who don’t like the breast right now. Erecting teeth and molars are the most obvious cause of pain. Pain in the mouth, such as thrush, can also prevent your baby from drinking. Ear pain can also be a very disturbing factor.
When your child suffers from pain, it is important to remove the cause or, if this is not possible, to relieve the pain. Try feeding in a different position. Perhaps the position you normally feed in is uncomfortable because the painful area is burdened. When the cause is clear (such as with an ear infection) you can possibly provide medication for the pain. If your baby refuses the breast because he is teething, you can let him chew on something cold before breastfeeding. If he already receives supplementary food, a frozen crust of bread or chilled cucumber has a soothing effect.

Your child is or will become ill

Being sick is never fun. The breast, which normally offers so much comfort, may suddenly no longer be in demand. Perhaps because of a stuffy nose, a disease that is about to break through or as a result of a vaccination. The appetite can then decrease sharply, so that your baby does not want to drink at the breast.
Breastfeeding usually returns to normal after your child feels better. If this is not the case, take a look at the tips under the heading:

The taste of the milk or mom’s smell is different

Your period or pregnancy can change the taste of your milk. Your baby may suddenly not like the milk anymore and is reluctant to breastfeed. A (temporarily) reduced milk flow or production as a result of menstruation or pregnancy can also cause your child to feel uncomfortable and reluctant to breastfeed.
It is also possible that your child recognizes you badly when you suddenly use other body care products or washing products and that he shows that he (temporarily) disagrees.
When you find out that the cause is a certain care product, go back to how the situation was before your child no longer felt comfortable at the breast. When the taste and/or mom’s smell has (temporarily) changed due to hormonal changes, let your child ‘get to know’ you again by being (nude) together a lot. Sleep together, take a bath together and get into bed. You can also carry your child with you in a sling. Have lots of skin-to-skin contact .

Your child eats too much supplementary food and/or drinks too much other drinks

From the age of seven, your child also eats other foods besides the breast, such as vegetables, fruit and bread, and he may also drink something else now and then, such as water or weak (herbal) tea. When the process of getting used to food goes very quickly (or actually too quickly), breastfeeding can become less attractive and he wants to breastfeed less frequently. If your production decreases as a result, your child will probably want to drink and eat even more, which of course does not benefit breastfeeding.
From now on, always offer your child the breast first before offering him additional food. He will then naturally have more appetite for the breast and will have less room for additional feeding. Also take a serious look at whether you don’t offer him too many other drinks and food for his age. Drinking differently is not really necessary if your child is breastfed and solid food continues to be supplemented: breastfeeding remains the main source of nutrition for up to a year. The way of supplementing also has an effect on the amount your child eats. For example, if you let your child decide for himself how much he eats (by eating pieces ), breastfeeding will be better preserved. Your child can then better monitor when he has eaten enough than with a mash that is spooned in by someone else.

The milk flow is less or the let-down reflex is delayed

As your child gets older and gradually eats more solid food, your production can decrease. The milk flow can also be delayed and when your baby wants to drink while the milk flow is slow or the let-down reflex is delayed, he can become impatient. He may even get frustrated with the chest and become angry for that reason. Pushing off, maybe biting or feeling so uncomfortable it seems like he doesn’t want the breast anymore.
Try to relax when you feed or plan to offer the breast. If you get nervous or frustrated, your baby will sense that and that won’t improve the situation. Inhale deeply into the stomach and relax your muscles, especially those of your neck and shoulders. It may be necessary to increase your production . Aoxytocin nasal spray can help make the milk flow more easily.

Your child is scared of something

When something happened during your intimate or quiet feeding moment that shocked your child? for example a loud voice or sound? it may be that your child is so frightened that it links the fright to the breast and is therefore no longer at ease and seems to refuse the breast. Try to give your child confidence back so that he will associate the breast with safety again. Take your time before feeding, talk or sing softly, rock the little one during feeding. Have lots of skin-to-skin contact.

Back to the chest: a summary

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to get your baby back to the breast. Even if the cause is still not entirely clear to you or it is a combination of the above, the tips are more than worth trying. So what can you do.

Have lots of skin-to-skin contact. For example, you can carry your baby in a sling and sleep together. Taking a warm bath or shower together is not only good for skin-to-skin contact, but it is also relaxing,
which benefits the milk flow.

Be intimate together a lot.

Remember that your first goal is to rebuild trust. So try to let go of trying to get your baby to the breast. That breast drinking will come naturally if the confidence is good.

Also feed your baby flat on the couch or in bed with your baby on your stomach. This is biological nurturing and has many conveniences.

Offer the breast especially when your baby is sleepy: with a dream feed late in the evening and with night feeds. The more sleepy and the less conscious he is, the greater the chance that it will work and your baby will just want to drink again.

During the day, offer your breast without explicitly offering it (and that’s where a lot of skin-to-skin contact comes in again). If he is not that big yet, you can send him with his mouth near your breasts. Slide your baby towards you on the bottom / back, do not push the head towards the chest.

Feed while walking or rocking. Or try a rocking chair or a hammock. Or in the sling.

Sing a soothing song while feeding.

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