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Your question:

My 4-month old has become a fussy feeder, she latches on but then gets upset and starts crying. Feeding times are very dramatic and she just doesn’t seem happy. What can I do?

Expert’s answer:

Here are a few things to consider which will hopefully help:

Baby’s tummy

Your baby’s gut and digestive system is still developing rapidly and your milk is the perfect food to support this development. Offer the breast frequently, allow baby to feed as long as she likes on the first side (not timing feeds), will make sure baby is getting enough calories through the higher fat milk that comes later in the feed, and that higher fat milk also settles the tummy a bit better.  You could also look at yours and baby’s schedule to see if feeding has been affected in any way, for example, long intervals between feeds.

What you eat

You may have heard that breastfeeding mothers should avoid certain foods. Usually this isn’t the case and a mother is able to continue her normal diet while breastfeeding, but occasionally something she eats can upset baby’s tummy. The most common culprit is cow’s milk and dairy products, (soya, eggs, wheat can be a problem too) but a sensitivity to this usually presents as a rash, fussiness or even congestion type symptoms. We are not suggesting you change your diet in any way, but you may want to jot down the foods you eat and see if you notice a pattern in the fussiness depending on the food you eat. 

Also, it is important for everyone, but especially for new mums, to eat well as caring for a baby requires plenty of energy. The general recommendation to mums is to try to eat a wide variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Some caffeine is usually fine, but if you are drinking large amounts of coffee or tea or eating lots of chocolate it may upset your baby. If you are craving and eating large amounts of any food it could have an effect on baby as well.

Teething

Baby‘s teeth may not have erupted yet, but can still be causing discomfort.

Illness

Is she dealing with anything like a cold or an ear infection? Are you? If this fussiness is a new thing it could be due to exposure to an illness, and a blocked nose or sore ear would impact feeding. Please contact your GP or PHN to check it out if you think this may be the case. Your milk will help her fend off any infection, so it is important to keep breastfeeding as much as you like!

Discomfort

Sometimes babies have discomfort in their jaws, necks or shoulders which can be due to baby’s position in the womb, and also the stresses and strains of being born. Some mothers find that a gentle therapy like Craniosacral is really helpful to release those tensions and make baby happier. Click here for a list of Paediatric Craniosacral Therapists near you.

Get Support

If you are not attending one already, you may enjoy attending a mother to mother breastfeeding group. They are very fun and relaxed way to enjoy a cup of tea and a chat, and to learn from other mothers who are also mothering through breastfeeding. Groups are attended by a Lactation Consultant, Public Health Nurse, or trained Counsellor or Leader who will be able to help answer your questions as well. I attach a link to your local groups here https://www.breastfeeding.ie/Support-search/?. Also the Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellors and La Leche League Leaders are available to chat on the phone as well if attending a group isn’t feasible.

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