Breastfeeding the Distractible Baby

Latch, unlatch. Latch again, pull off, look around, latch again. Suck a couple times. Hear a sound and stop. Try to turn his head with the breast still in his mouth. Sound like your baby?

Between age two months and six months, and again between eight and ten months, babies tend to become more distractible – even when nursing. Babies are starting to notice more of their world, and are interested in every little sight and sound. While this is a developmental milestone and a sign that your baby’s brain is growing by leaps and bounds, it can be pretty annoying when breastfeeding.

If you find that your baby gets easily distracted when nursing, you may want to …

Find a quiet place: Going to a quiet, darkened room helps some babies concentrate on nursing, and block out any outside distraction. Whisper or talk in a soft voice, if you talk at all.

Wear a nursing necklace: If your baby likes to fidget while nursing, you might consider wearing a ‘nursing necklace’ that he can look at and manipulate with his hand while he’s feeding. Try a long necklace with big colorful beads.

Take advantage of white noise and motion: Try nursing while standing and swaying, or think about putting baby in a sling and walking around while your feeding him. White noise may block out any auditory distractions if your baby is especially prone to stopping at every little sound.

Don’t take it personally: Some moms think this start and stop feeding is a sign that baby no longer wants her. But it’s simply a sign that baby is starting to recognize he is separate from her, while still safe in her sphere of physical and emotional protection.

If your baby tends to pull away without letting go of your nipple, you may need to be vigilant so you can break the suction with your finger before baby gets too far. Some moms find that nursing in a sling or using the football (or clutch) hold keeps their baby from being able to pull away like this (and gives mom a little more control over baby’s movements).

Most moms say their baby was the most distracted between four and five months of age. Keep in mind that just because your baby is distracted while nursing, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s weaning (especially if she’s younger than a year). Babies younger than age one typically do not self-wean. They still need the calories of breastmilk. If your baby is starting to nurse less because she’s busy checking out her world, you may want to consciously offer the breast more often during the day and get in as many nighttime feedings as you can (when the stimulation from the outside world is very limited).

What tricks do you have for breastfeeding the distractible baby?

Written by Michelle, childbirth instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice.  All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.