Eight Month Baby Refusing Breast

A customer writes to us “I’m breastfeeding an 8 ½ month old. He loves his solids and is doing really well, but over the last couple of days he has turned his nose up at my boob.  He has a nanny two days a week who feeds him my milk from a bottle and since she’s been here this week, he’s really only been interested in the morning feed. I’m a bit worried that the less he’s feeding off me, the less I’m making so I’m trying to express as much as I can to keep it up, but I never really get much when I express. (and I can’t keep this up as I don’t have a lot of spare time in my life to express all day and also feed him from a bottle and clean all the expresser and bottles all day.)

I guess a major possibility is my supply has dwindled a lot so he is getting frustrated on my boob so has decided not to bother.  I really want to feed him for twelve months at least as only got to 8 ½ with my eldest (I decided to put her on formula with farex mixed in as she wasn’t keen on her solids).

Do you think I should stick to my guns and only offer him the boob or is it really bad for him if he’s not getting enough milk? If you think I should persist, do you think a product to help my supply would help with a baby this old?

This is my reply based on my experiences as a mother…

Firstly it is quite common for baby’s to self wean at around the 9 month age, so that’s not a total surprise.

Yes it is a lot of work expressing milk, aswell as the cleaning of all the gear, and doing it while you are at work. I totally understand you on that one.

Some women do really well with expressing, and can get 150mL + with no problem. However its also very common for people to really struggle to get much milk, it was always a real effort for me to get a meager 50mls (and even then my son wouldn’t drink it from a bottle after all my efforts!)

You are right, the less your baby feeds from you, the less you will make. The method is that you’d express milk at the times that you would’ve been feeding him if you were home to keep your supply up, but if you don’t get much milk when pumping then your day time supply will diminish. You’d still have supply for the other times, but just at the times you would be pumping your breasts will start making less milk at that time.

Maybe baby is rejecting the breast during the day time feeds because the supply has dropped of at that time. And it could also be, because he’s had expressed milk from a bottle, he might have learnt that its easier to drink from a bottle rather than a nipple. This is really common, I have cases where babies as young as 3 weeks work out that its easier to use a teat! What teats are you using?

I don’t think any product such as Milk Tea or Fenugreek would help much with supply. Though if it’s a problem of bottle teat vs nipple, then I do have the Chu Chu teats which work the exact same way as a nipple. Baby has to work hard to suck the milk, rather than getting lazy using a teat where the milk just flows out.

You’ve already answered your question by saying that you’d like to feed him for twelve months at least, so now we just have to figure out how that’s going to work.

Would you be open to a suggestion of breastmilk and formula? If the pumping is not resulting in much, then maybe you’d think about him having a bottle of formula during the day, and saving your breastfeeds for morning and evening. Then its also something special between the two of you, you get the relaxing cuddle time after being at work all day, he gets your milk JUST from you (not something the nanny can do – so you’re not replaced!!). If you are not keen on using formula, then personally I think as long as he was getting the early morning and evening breastmilk from you it would be fine. The nanny could just make sure he was getting plenty of fluids during the day, and perhaps a yogurt rather than a bottle of formula.

The hard thing for mums is always deciding on the right balance.