My son is nine months old and is suddenly refusing the breast. Is he self-weaning?
Breastmilk is still your baby's main source of nutrition for the first twelve months. It's rare for babies to wean themselves before one year. Babies may refuse the breast for many reasons. They may be teething, fighting an illness, or having reflux. Your milk flow may be too slow or too fast, making baby uncomfortable. They may even be put off by a new perfume or deodorant. If your baby has bitten you and you have reacted by yelling, they might start to refuse the breast. Other causes could be stressful moments like a big move, new people in the home, loud barking or family arguments, or being away from you for a while.
Start by increasing skin to skin time in a quiet and calm environment. Try singing to your baby or reading them books while breastfeeding. Rocking or walking while breastfeeding can soothe baby and help with latching. Call your doctor if you think your baby has an ear infection or a cold, which might make them refuse the breast.
If your baby prefers the bottle and is refusing the breast, work on offering only breastfeeding when you are home with them. If your milk flow is too slow, massage your breast and hand express some milk before latching baby on. That way, your milk will be ready and flowing for baby. If your flow is too fast, check this page for overactive letdown. Sometimes a sleepy baby may latch to the breast easier than a very alert baby.
The key is patience, time, and snuggles. Keep trying!