Breastfeeding a Distracted Baby: 4 Month WakefulOctober 7, 2011
When Sophia neared her 4 month birthday, her eating habits started to shift. She started getting so distracted by her environment during the day, and wanted to make up for it by eating throughout the night. In other words, she was going through the period of time more commonly known as the “4 month wakeful.”
During the feedings during the day, she would latch on, nurse for a few seconds, and then pull off and smile at me. While I loved smiling at each other, I knew she needed the calories and nutrition in the breastmilk. And the only way to solve this feeding problem would be to remove all the distractions as much as possible.
While this type of distractibility tends to peak first at 4 months, it also tends to peak again around 9 months. Some mothers mistaken this easily distractible behavior as the baby’s intention to self-wean. However, this is often not the case. The vast majority of babies under a year old will not self-wean. So if baby is not self-weaning, what can you do to improve the situation?
Try nursing in a quiet and dark room, where the bright lights and sounds of a TV cannot take your baby’s attention away. Talk in a low, calm voice. Even feeding while baby is half-asleep can help a lot. We did a lot of ‘dream feeds’ (as we refer to them around here) during Sophia’s first few months.
I also noticed that when I used a nursing cover outside, Sophia would nurse fairly effectively. I presume this is because the cover made her ‘world’ as she knew it very minimal (and distraction-free) at the time. I started incorporating the nursing cover into some feeds at home as well. And it helps a ton. Although I prefer just going in a quiet, dark room most of the time to feed, sometimes when I want to be in the bright living room, using the nursing shawl is all I need to guarantee a decent meal for her.
And don’t fret! The distraction problem gets better in time. Although it seems like nursing has become a challenge again at times, it is a passing phase. As baby matures, she will learn to focus more attentively on the task at hand.