Monday, November 28, 2011

Nursing Strike Revelation

When Daniel was nine or ten months old, he went on a nursing strike. It was my fault.

At the time, he was cutting his top front teeth, and accordingly, started giving me a little test chomp each time he would nurse. This hurt me so sincerely that I couldn't think before reacting, "Oh ouch! Daniel! Don't bite!" The first time I said this to him, he was deeply hurt and looked up at me with one of those heartbreaking pre-cry faces.

I only had to react a few times like this before he stopped wanting to nurse.

It took me half a day to make the connection between my reaction and his refusal to nurse. I had never spoken to him that way, especially not in our moments of ultimate closeness.

Fortunately, he was eating other food by this time, but he'd still been breastfeeding 6-8 times/24 hours. Now, every time I offered to feed him, he would seal his lips tight. This from a boy who LIVES for nursing (still does...). I was so sad!

The strike lasted a few very long days. The first night, I broke his resistance a bit by nursing him when he was super sleepy, but that didn't work for long.

Finally, I lay with him in my bed when he awoke one night, and tried again to nurse. He refused over and over, shaking his head and arching away. I felt to try a different approach. I held him close and whispered gently, "Daniel, I love you. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings." With that, he immediately latched on and drank a full meal.

I was touched by this sweet reminder that babies possess a deep sensitivity and understanding. Not every baby may have reacted this way, but Daniel wears his heart on his sleeve, and he needed to feel without a doubt that I love and accept him. It was what we both needed.

Things got better after that, but he watched me closely for a while. I learned to anticipate the nibbles and quickly break the latch. If I missed on that, I would just bite my tongue and try my best to smile instead of squeal.

He doesn't bite anymore, and nursing is lovely as ever.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing that sweet story. We sometimes think that because babies can't talk, that they can't understand. There are so many ways of communicating that they can understand! They really "get" more than we think.

  2. Thanks Nonie. I'll keep that story in mind a long time.

  3. I love you, Nonie. A wonderful post. I need little reminders that George has feelings. Not that I ever try to hurt them, sometimes I'm not very prompt responding to his needs. I'll repeat what Andrew posted a while ago, babies are people too!

  4. That's a touching and timely story for me as Aaron's teeth are coming in and he's starting to bite. The first time I said "ouch!" he started to cry, and I realized he never hears me use that tone of voice. I'm glad to know that Daniel has learned not to bite with nothing but smiles from you!

  5. Lovely, Nonie. I love the way you mamas treasure your little ones.

  6. Nonie that is the sweetest Mommy moment I've read in a long while. It's amazing that he is so perceptive. What a softie!