How to Navigate a Breast Strike

A breast strike is when a baby suddenly or abruptly stops breastfeeding – it’s not weaning. In fact, it’s actually very unusual for a child younger than 18-24 months old to wean on their own and self-weaning almost always happens gradually. A breast strike is often a temporary reaction to various external factors.

 

Some of the common reasons for a breast strike are:

  • The mother gave a strong reaction to biting.
  • There is a change in the supply or taste of milk due to the mother’s menstrual cycle or a new pregnancy.
  • The baby has a cold, illness or injury that makes breastfeeding painful or uncomfortable.
  • There has been a change in breastfeeding patterns.

Having your baby go on a breast strike can be upsetting for you both. It’s important to try to relax as much as possible, and to express milk to maintain your supply and reduce the chance of getting blocked ducts or mastitis. A breast strike usually only lasts a few days but it can be as long as 10 days in some cases. Know that with time, patience and persistence it is possible to get your baby back on the breast.

Here are some suggestions you might like to try to get your pēpi breastfeeding again:

  • Feed your baby when they’re drowsy – either when they are falling asleep or have just stirred awake.
  • Try a new feeding position or feed while walking around.
  • Have your breasts available to your baby as often as possible, with no pressure to feed. Enjoy lots of skin-to-skin cuddles and have a bath or shower together.
  • Wear clothes with quick and easy access to your breasts or go topless around the house.
  • Offer your baby the breast whenever they show any interest – whether it’s for hunger or comfort – but don’t pressure them to feed.
  • Sleep near your baby so you can offer them the breast when they show early feeding cues.

If you are struggling with biting, a baby on a breast strike, or any other challenges that come with breastfeeding, there is help available to you, day or night. See our comprehensive list of breastfeeding resources and support. You can find more information on breast strikes at Kellymom.com or La Leche League.