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Ask an Expert: Frustrated at the Breast

Fan Question: Sometimes my baby gets frustrated at the breast and won’t latch on. I’ve been breaking down and giving him a bottle of formula. What else can I do?

NANCY MOHRBACHER, IBCLC: What a worry! The most important thing is not to let your breast become a battleground. If your baby is fussy, walk him, rock him, and comfort him in other ways rather that fighting at the breast or giving the bottle. What may help after he calms is to get into a semi-reclined position (try the position you use to watch TV), and lay him tummy down on your body. That triggers your baby’s inborn feeding reflexes, and he should start to bob around looking for the breast. This can even work when he’s drowsy or in a light sleep, which you can recognize by eyes moving under eyelids or other movements. These more natural breastfeeding positions often make it easier for babies to latch. Plus baby’s full frontal contact with you is calming and acts like a GPS, telling him where he is and what to do. To read more about this, see my blog post on laid-back breastfeeding.

unnamedNancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA is a board-certified lactation consultant in the Chicago area who has been helping breastfeeding families since 1982. Her books for professionals are used worldwide. Her books for parents include Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, which she co-authored with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, and her tiny problem-solving guide, Breastfeeding Solutions In 2013, Nancy released her Breastfeeding Solutions smartphone app (available for Android and iPhones) to give mothers a quick, go-everywhere source of breastfeeding help. Nancy speaks at events around the world.