Last Reviewed: September 2011
Your Questions Answered
Questions about your baby
How long should I breastfeed my baby?
Breastfeeding is all your baby needs for the first six months. At six months your baby will continue to breastfeed while beginning to eat other foods. Breastfeeding can continue for the first two years or more, for as long as you and your child want. There is no "right time" to stop. The longer your child breastfeeds, the better the health benefits—breast milk changes to suit your child’s needs as he grows. The breastfeeding relationship between you and your baby also continues to grow during the toddler years.
See Weaning Your Baby for more information
My baby was feeding well and suddenly is refusing to breastfeed. Does this mean he wants to wean?
Many babies have short phases where they refuse to breastfeed. This is sometimes referred to as a nursing strike. Many parents interpret this behaviour as the baby wanting to wean but this is usually not the case. Some other related behaviours include being fussy, being very distracted and pulling on and off the breast, as well as biting. These feeding phases usually last a short time: sometimes for a couple of feedings, sometimes for a couple of days. These are some things you can try:
- If your baby is teething, try a cool teething ring for him to bite on. Ask your doctor about some pain medication if your baby is really uncomfortable.
- If your baby has a stuffy nose, it may be difficult for him to breathe while breastfeeding. Consult your doctor before using any infant saline drops or spray to ease the congestion.
- If your baby is easily distracted, try breastfeeding in a quiet room with dim lights, or try breastfeeding when he is more settled and/or sleepy.
- If your baby continues to refuse the breast, try offering expressed breast milk by spoon or cup if necessary.
- If your baby is refusing one breast, use the other breast for now. You may need to express the alternate breast to maintain your supply.