A tip if your baby’s reluctant to nurse

Hats off to Piove, who submitted a hack when his son is barely a week old. Here’s what he and his wife have learned so far about the crazy adventure that is newborn nursing:

Our 9 day-old son is sometimes reluctant to nurse.  We figured out quite quickly this happened after my wife had had a shower.  [Presumably because she smelled different. — Ed.] Now, when he wants to feed after she has washed, she squeezes a bit of milk out and massages it into the nipple.  He then latches on no problems!

Apparently nipple creams will cause the same problem.  If you have sore nipples, try the same thing, massage a bit of breast milk into them.  This and baby’s saliva should be enough to prevent soreness and cracking.

[In my experience, only time helped the soreness and cracking problem. I internalized the mantra that “if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong,” but, for me, no matter how I did it I was sore in the beginning. — Ed.]


  1. r, j & a says

    lol when I was nursing my son he wouldn’t eat when I was dirty! We moved to GA about 1 month after his birth and since I was all hot and sweaty from the new climate he hated it. Great advice!

  2. Carly Scholz says

    I had a similar problem with both of my babies, although it was worse with the first. To take care of the cracking our lactation consultant recommended expressing enough milk once the baby was finished eating to rinse the nipple thouroghly because saliva is designed to begin the digestion process and prevent healing. It worked like a charm!

  3. Amy says

    Make sure you’re not using soap on breastfeeding nipples! It will make the dryness/soreness worse, and will change mom’s smell more.

    Gerber has a breast balm that ROCKS. It’s like Chaptstick for your nipples. VERY nice for the cold, dry midwestern winter.

    When my baby was brand new, I put her in the bouncy seat that lights up and plays music, turned off the lights in the bathroom, and showered in the dark while she was fascinated with the trippy light show. It worked every time. Of course, now I’ve trained myself to shower in 4 minutes, so I don’t need to do anything but leave her in her crib with a toy… Yay for 8 month olds!

  4. momma2mingbu says

    I’d like to expand on the comment…”no matter how I did it I was sore in the beginning.”

    It’s just like the first time you go out and shovel the driveway in the winter or the first few times you do a new exercise program. You’re using your body in a new way. It takes a bit of time for your body to get used to it.

    DISCOMFORT is normal. PAIN is not normal and can be an indication that something isn’t going right…bad positioning, poor latch, etc.

  5. Lynn says

    “DISCOMFORT is normal. PAIN is not normal and can be an indication that something isn’t going right…bad positioning, poor latch, etc.”

    I read this all the time… but I have nursed 5 children and let me tell you – in the first couple of weeks I experience PAIN! Not only that, but ITRW, everyone I know agrees that they also feel pain. I am a fair-skinned redhead. Not sure if that has anything to do with it, but after many years of breastfeeding experience, I take exception to the assumption that I am doing something wrong.

  6. hedra says

    Some women get inflammatory pain when their milk comes in (I did after my first – heck, even MOVING hurt, and nursing was like I was letting down molten lava). And some fair-skinned women do have a lot of pain with nursing at first.

    That said, unless you have an LC check it out, you won’t know if you’re missing:

    a) Reynoud’s syndrome (blood vessels clamp down causing a fiery cramping pain in the nipple)
    b) Aversive feeding behavior (AAP Bfing policy mentions suctioning at birth causing aversive feeding – such as not sucking hard enough, or clamping down too hard, even with an otherwise good latch, as my oldest did – OUCH!)
    c) tongue tie (compresses the nipple oddly, hurts like crazy)
    d) thrush (even low level can hurt like crushed glass)
    e) etc.

    IMHO, if you hurt, have it checked by a certified LC! At least you’ll know if it is ‘just your luck’ or if there’s something you can do about it.

    I’ll vote for purified lanolin (Lansinoh, etc.) and a good dose of Ibuprophin for mommy if you’ve got the inflammatory pain thing.

  7. Karen says

    Another redhead here, who experienced lots of pain–toe-curling pain–during the first three weeks of nursing. Think of that inarticulate tough guy from _Knight’s tale_ (hmm, also a redhead) and how he promised pain–that’s what it was like! My son didn’t latch on, he clamped down! Hard! I had been looking forward to nursing my *entire life* and I dreaded our nursing sessions in those early weeks. My thrice-blessed LC had lots of ideas for how to avoid/minimize the pain, but ultimately it was just a matter of time. So, after three weeks of suffering, we’ve had 32 months of very happy nursing. Works for me.