This is when a previously well breastfeeding baby refuses to nurse, especially when wide awake. Baby may still nurse when sleepy. It is usually a sudden change but can build up over time and it is often inexplicable at first and the cause may have to be looked for.
The cause(s) may range from:
Nursing strikes are best dealt with by:
- finding the root of the cause and fixing it
- continuing to feed the baby by an alternate feeding method - preferably not a bottle
- continuing to offer the breast, cuddle the baby, "wear the baby", sleep with the baby, basically maintaining close maternal contact with the baby - preferably skin to skin
- frequent breastfeeding at the time the baby is most willing, usually sleepy times, just before sleepy, just after waking, with some babies while sleeping
- protection of mother's milk supply by regular emptying of the breast with a pump or hand expression.
A nursing strike should not be confused with natural weaning or baby led weaning. Babies on "strike" are hungry and have something bothering them. "Strikes" last a few days usually, sometimes longer and when the problem is resolved typically get better. Baby Led Weaning is a progressive and gradual slowing down of breastfeeding at a developmentally appropriate age until it ceases altogether.