FAQ: Even though hungry my baby won't breastfeed and is distracted by the surrounding, What's happening?
Around the age of 4-5 months, an ever so focussed and dedicated nursling is suddenly pulling away from breast way too often and looks more interested in everything other than the mother’s breast while nursing.
What is happening….?
This is the distraction phase. As the baby grows up and has better developed sensory organs along with more body-control; her awareness of her surroundings explodes and curiosity kicks in! The baby becomes extremely interested in observing and exploring her surroundings and gets easily distracted by the slightest of stimuli. Everything is new and exciting for her and she’s too distracted to breastfeed!
This is normal; and in fact, a good sign showing that the baby’s brain is developing well. The baby is curious and wants to know what is happening and she wants to make sense of it. This is the stage wherein she has to see and look at things to understand what is happening. As she grows more, she will not have to turn away from the breast to understand what's happening. She’ll be able to understand by the sounds, light variations, temperature changes, smells etc. But until she reaches that stage, she will pull away from the breast to see and look and observe and analyse and understand and wonder and develop.
How to breastfeed a distracted baby?
It can be challenging to nurse a baby who keeps pulling off the breast all the time to look at other things. It can be frustrating too. The important thing to remember here is that this is a baby less than 6 months old and her only food is breast milk. So, it is important to ensure that the baby’s intake does not suffer. Here are certain things that the mother could do.
* A baby carrier or a nursing cover can provide a distraction-free zone to the baby.
* If the baby is older than 6 months old and is on solids, she may be more willing to eat some healthy snacks in a distracting situation as opposed to breastfeeding.
Is the baby weaning?
When the distraction phase continues or comes back around 8-10 months of age, as it often does, many mothers wonder if their baby is self-weaning. It is very rare for a baby to self-wean at this age. All the baby needs to breastfeed well is - fewer distractions. The strategies mentioned above can help. Reverse cycle nursing at this stage can be extremely important. Around one-fourth of the baby’s milk needs are met by night-nursing. It is one of the reasons why night weaning is not recommended at this age.
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