Breast refusal at 9 months - start of baby-led weaning?

A baby's refusal to feed is a distressing time. Sometimes the refusal is outright; other times just an extreme fussiness. Usually it is temporary and the baby returns to the breast. Share your experiences and support one another through this tough time here.
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Breast refusal at 9 months - start of baby-led weaning?

Post by Gaby » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:01 pm

I'd love to hear from others who have been through, or have advice regarding, breast refusal at 9 months and whether this was the start of weaning for you...?

My gorgeous son is 9 months old and for the last 24 hours has refused all breastfeeds. This has happened all of a sudden, with his feeding normal up until his complete refusal yesterday afternoon. He has been on solids since 6 months and has three (usually) good sized meals a day, plus snacks and a bit of water. Up until yesterday he has been a good feeder, especially his evening feed before bed.

He seems otherwise well, is in good spirits when he's up and active, although is teething with a new tooth cut this week.

His refusal is serious! Thrashing, screaming, pushing away if I even put him close to my breasts.

After getting some great advice from an ABA counselor this morning, I've attempted a few different strategies - different positions, skin-to-skin, feeding after a sleep or when he's relaxed, keeping things calm and quiet in the room - but there has been no change in his (lack of) interest.

I've expressed and fed him the EBM in a bottle, which he has taken reasonably well, especially tonight's evening feed.

I plan to keep trying this weekend and hope this is a short-lived phase.

But I am aware that many babies self-wean at this age, and I'd be interested to hear from mums whose babies have and how you managed this - how long did you keep trying, were you about to give up but the baby started breastfeeding normally again, did you use any special techniques to encourage breastfeeding, did you keep expressing and feeding the EBM...?

It has been great to read through some of the other threads on this topic and know that I'm not alone in this experience!


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Post by ClOuD_NiNe » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:40 pm

Hi Gaby, welcome to the forum!

Sorry to hear you're having some issues, it can be so confusing and distressing when babies refuse the breast. Just the other day I was talking to a friend about this exact same problem, her boy is 9 months old as well. I sent her a link I found when my DS was about that age, and although he never completely refused the breast he was super fussy and would really only feed at night - the world was just too interesting during the daytime to be worried about feeds! Apparently it's quite common with babies of this age. Here it is:

I think the counsellor you spoke to had given some good advice, I can't really suggest anything else. For us the daytime refusal and fussiness was the start of weaning but only because I wanted it to be (we wanted to TTC#2 and there was no sign of my cycles returning while breastfeeding) - and I have to say, I found it incredibly easy to wean at that time. DS took to the bottle like a champ and never looked back! Even though I wanted to wean him I felt a bit rejected.

If you're worried about your little boy taking to the bottle too easily you could try giving milk in a cup instead.

Hope this helps a little, hopefully a few of the others who have nursed toddlers will be along soon. I'm sure a lot of them have been through this stage and can give advice on how to get bub back to the breast.
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Post by marie7 » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:29 am

Hi there!! Yes, this is so very common!! My ds2 was terrible at that age, started around 8 mths and then faded at about 10 months, and we are still feeding at 17mths :wink:
The only thing that worked for us was the morning, nap time, bed time and during the night feeds, anywhere else he would not have a bar of it!! I got to him as soon as he woke in the mornings, a sleepy feed worked the best.... Then he was a comfort feeder to sleeper so his nap times I got a good feed from him, by swapping boobs when he was pretty much asleep, otherwise he just would t even have 2 sides!! Then I would put him to the breast during the night when he made a peep! So he was extra sleepy would attach, have a good drink almost in his sleep. Are these options for you? It does pass!! In the mean time I personally would steer clear of bottles and just keep offering the breast all.the.time, solids, water and maybe some ebm in a cup should tie him over until this phase shall end :roll: Good luck! I hope others come by with some more advice soon!
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Many thanks

Post by Gaby » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:31 pm

Thank you, marie7 and ClOuD_NiNe, it was so great to read your advice and supportive comments. I think the idea of offering the EBM in a cup is a good one; he is very comfortable with the bottle already so if he's just going through a phase, it will be good to not have him get too used to it.

The last 24 hours have been a bit better in that he's not going into complete hysterics at the offering of the boob, but he is still not feeding, although has put his mouth to it a couple of times. Same on both sides and regardless of when/where I attempt. I'll definitely keep trying to encourage him when he's sleepy.

I will keep taking it one day at a time and really hope I get an outcome like you did, marie7.

Did either of you get advice from your local child and family clinic? I'm planning to visit mine on Tuesday and am interested in the nurses' ideas, too.

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Post by Gaby » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:37 pm

Meant to also say thank you, ClOuD_NiNe, for the link to the fascinating article on self-weaning.

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Post by fellare » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:40 pm

I wonder if something else is going on. It's normal for bubs to become so distracted that they only feed in dark quiet rooms, but the screaming and pushing suggests to me something else might be going on as well. Is he teething? did he get a big fright while feeding recently? maybe he's got sore ears? something like that.

take care with the nurses advise. They aren't all trained in breastfeeding problems and often go by the premise that people want to wean at 12 months (which is fine if that's what you want, but not very helpful if you want to feed longer). You're probably better off going to an LC or other specialist.

I hope it's just a phase for you!
Boobymonster weaned at 3.5yrs.
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Post by mooki » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:46 pm

Hi Gaby and welcome :)

Some great suggestions already.

The sudden refusal says to me that something else is going on. It would be very unusual for babies to self wean at this age if their only milk feed is breastmilk.

Teething could definitely be contributing to it, as could distractibilty like already mentioned. Have you had him checked out by your GP? Sometimes if their ears are sore he may be in pain tryinbg to feed.

Are you able to access an LC? They may have more experience in breast refusal.

How are you feeling about it all?

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Next steps

Post by Gaby » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:12 pm

Thank you, mooki and fellare for your advice; it's really appreciated and the responses on the forum have really helped me through this weekend. To answer your question, mooki, I'm feeling very up and down. Distressed and confused about what's going on and also worried about what's causing my little one so much grief. Trying to look at things one day at a time, though.

A small breakthrough this morning - Billy took a few mouthfuls of milk from the breast, sitting on my lap facing me. He was not distressed, but certainly didn't keep going or want the other side. He refused all other offers today but has taken all EBM without hesitation, same with solids. Has been up and down today, too - mostly very happy and active,but other times just wanting cuddles and not wanting to be put down.

I have booked an appointment with our GP tomorrow so will get her to check if there's any health issues - especially with his ears (seems more likely given he seemed comfortable sitting up this morning) plus I've noticed today a bit of raspiness in his throat so there may well be something going on there without major symptoms (ie, no high temperature etc). I can't think of any fright or other trauma with feeding leading up to him stopping, so am thinking pain of some description is probably the cause. He is teething and the upper gums are quite swollen so I've been applying teething gel which helps. Seems possible that this is making feeding from the breast just too uncomfortable for him.

Fingers crossed the doctor can help get to the bottom of it if there's something going on, poor little bub. I also contacted the local parent helpline which was very helpful with information on local LC services, so I'll be following that up tomorrow.

Thanks again for your warm words, advice and support; I've been an ABA member since Billy was born but am very glad I've now got myself on the forum to make these connections.

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