Breastfeeding a Distracted Baby| What Really Works?

Between two and six months*, babies begin discovering the worlds around them and see themselves as separate from mommy. It’s an awesome time of coos and throaty chuckles and wet kisses and teething and …distracted nursing sessions.

Oh, yes. We can’t forget the infamous distracted nursing baby.

As a breastfeeding mom who’s been there (and still is there), I know how frustrating it all can be to try to nurse a baby who seems more interested in a coat rack across the room. I know how challenging it can be to maintain your milk supply and sanity.

It’s hard. But there’s hope yet. Here are five tactics that you can use in breastfeeding your distracted babies:

Nurse in a quiet, darkened room. As a general rule, remember that the less distraction, the less lights, noise, sound—the better.

Nurse in a variety of positions and holds. If your baby seems to be most distracted when nursing in a cradle hold, consider experimenting with a football hold or nurse your baby standing up (sounds weird, but it’s actually easy to do), or try nursing while lying down (side-lying nursing).

Offer to nurse often. During this phase, your baby will want to space out feedings, but to combat the potential effects of their distracted nursing sessions on your milk supply, you’ll want to nurse frequent (even before they ask) and for as long as they’ll go.

Nurse with a sling, blanket, or cover. Beyond being useful for breastfeeding in public, these all can be used to block out some light and potential distractions.

Be persistent. Generally, it will be the case that when your breastfeeding baby pulls off mid feed, it’s not because she’s no longer hungry, it’s because she’s heard or seen something of interest. So, when this happens,  just continue to offer her the breast again and again, sometimes in a different setting, until you’re sure (or, mostly sure) she’s really finished.

Breastfeeding a distracted baby is a test of endurance, but this phase shall pass. Just remember not to take things personally and to feed your baby as often as possible, and things will end up great!

**Note: Distractibility is also common in babies between 8 to 10 months.

Breastfeeding moms: What tips can you share for breastfeeding a distracted baby?

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Jessica lives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with her husband and two girls. Once upon a time, pre-motherhood, she did many things as a “serious-looking” woman who managed to successfully balance a reality TV addiction with a career and academic pursuits. She's now a serious-acting woman whose primary job is raising her children. She writes, reads, fantasizes about minivans, and takes midday naps. She enjoys (among many other things) dancing to 80s music, photography, laughing out loud (at, usually, inappropriate moments), and writing about writing, being a writer, and becoming fearless on her blog Jessica F. Hinton

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Elizabeth Morana
Hi, from my own experience breastfeeding my daughter I found that she was easily distracted from about 8 weeks and feeding her became a constant stop start activity, with less filling feeds for her. My frustration and the discomfort caused by her pulling away, lead me to invent the Mumba bra. The worlds first nursing bra designed for both mother and baby. The Mumba nursing bra is a multifunctional nursing bra, as it nursing clasp also acts as a breastfeeding reminder for mum, to help remember what breast to feed baby from next. (another problem I had whilst breastfeeding) The… Read more »