How to Manage a Nursing Strike

Baby disinterested in breastfeeding? Learn about nursing strikes & what to do.

You’ve spent months working on your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Suddenly, you may notice baby is not as interested, and perhaps has even stopped breastfeeding altogether. What you may be experiencing is a nursing strike (when baby refuses to feed at the breast), which typically happens when baby is 7 to 11 months old.

What Causes a Nursing Strike or Breastfeeding Strike?

  • Physical conditions: Things like teething, ear infections, or illness could make it uncomfortable for baby to breastfeed.
  • Changes in routine: If you recently returned to work or school after you’ve been in a consistent breastfeeding routine, this may cause feeding disruptions for baby. If your baby is going to daycare or being cared for at home by someone other than you, she may have an adjustment period as you introduce new feeding times.
  • Hormone shifts: Changes in your body due to pregnancy or other hormone imbalances can change the taste or amount of milk you produce.
  • Baby is growing up: Your little one is growing up and learning more! As babies grow and learn, they are more easily distractible and more interested in what’s going on in their world.
  • Increasing nursing skills: As you are learning more and getting better at breastfeeding, so is your baby. As your little one becomes more efficient when nursing, they may need less feedings that don’t last as long at each session.

Nursing Strike Solutions

The most important thing to remember as you’re working through a breastfeeding strike with your baby is to stay calm and patient. Most of the time it’s a very temporary situation that will fix itself. Here are some tips to try if you’re working through a nursing strike:

  • Encourage feeding at the breast by trying a different breastfeeding position than you’ve used before.
  • If you find that baby is coming on and off the breast multiple times during feedings, try finding a calmer environment in which to nurse. This may help reduce distractions and help your baby get back to (nursing) business!
  • Continue to pump milk on your baby’s typical feeding schedule, as this will help you avoid engorgement or mastitis and maintain your milk supply. If helpful, download a copy of our breast milk storage guidelines (also available in Spanish) to remember when to refrigerate and freeze your pumped milk so you can use it to feed your baby later.
  • Try offering the breast when you can, and if baby refuses to nurse, just turn the moment into some special skin-to-skin time.

If the nursing strike continues more than a few days, reach out to a Certified Lactation Consultant who can give you more advice and work with you to find a solution and get baby back to breastfeeding.