Nursing Woes {Baby Playing While Breastfeeding}

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What to do when your baby wants to play instead of breastfeed

Baby playing instead of eating

That little grin is so cute. The curiosity of your baby is precious. The look of wonder is magical…until it isn’t. When you are breastfeeding a baby who suddenly won’t eat and wants to just look around, your stress levels can easily rise. You start wot worry the baby isn’t eating enough. If you have other children, you can’t very well sit and sit and sit while baby decides to get back to eating.

As wonderful as nursing is, there are also plenty of difficulties associated with it, especially your first time around. Does it hurt at first? Well, for me it did. I have heard from many women that it is the same for them, though I do know some who experienced not pain (not even engorgement!). My second time, engorgement wasn’t bad at all and I had no pain from nursing (until the yeast infection hit…).

I think one of the biggest difficulties with nursing comes when the baby is too distracted to eat a full meal without “popping off” ever couple of minutes. This was a major difficulty with Brayden, and it started around 3 months old. He usually had no one around–it was just me and him at home all day with no real distractions. I would laugh because he seemed to want to make sure the plant hadn’t moved or something. He is still that way–he can’t stand to miss one bit of action. I just sat and patiently waited for him to decide to eat more. Once we weaned and he could drink his milk and still look around the room, he drank well without the “popping.”

Kaitlyn also does it on occasion, though not to the degree of my first and she started showing signs of it at an older age. As soon as she started it, I would immediately put her back into nursing position to get her to latch back on. I wanted to avoid that game if possible. It works most of the time, but sometimes she is insistent upon looking around, and in that case I let her look for a bit, then put her back into position. Nursing her at church is a nightmare because we are in the mother’s room, and they have a feed so you can hear the speaker. She is always unlatching and trying to find the speaker in the room. That is why I usually do a bottle at church.

So how can you minimize the “popping off” syndrome? Here are some of my ideas:

  • As I just described, put baby back into nursing position immediately. Don’t let her start the game. Let her look around all she wants once the meal is over, but try to get her into the habit of eating first then playing.
  • You can try going into a room you can make completely dark (or as dark as possible) with as few noises and other distractions as possible. This isn’t fool-proof, but it might help.
  • You can see if covering with a blanket helps at all.
  • Hold your baby close to (cradle tightly).
  • Try to relax and focus so your let-down will come quickly. Some moms think baby pops off because she is impatient for the let-down.
  • Burp baby in case gas is the culprit.
  • See if you just need to switch sides or if baby is done eating. At some point, Kaitlyn suddenly started nursing really fast. It takes her only a few minutes to drain each side. Once it is basically empty, that is when she starts the off and on thing. I just have a hard time believing she can eat that fast and I put her back on. Sometimes she comes off for distractions, but mostly it is because she is basically done with that side. It is nice now that she signs “all done” when she is done with one side!
  • If baby is old enough, encourage her to communicate when she is done nursing or done with one side.

As always, if you have further insights, please add!


Breastfeeding Twins? Check out this valuable resource guide for breastfeeding twins


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What to do when your baby wants to play instead of breastfeed

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