When my son was an infant he refused to eat (he still does sometimes.) He was also jaundiced. Before we were able to leave the hospital he had to eat, which meant the lactation consultant brought him a bottle…and queue the nipple confusion.
Bottle-feeding is easier for infants. They don’t have to work so hard to get the milk they want. From that moment, he did not want to breastfeed.
He cried. I cried. Fun times.
Affiliate links to the exact products I used are included in this post.
The nipple shield is a small piece of silicone that fits over the nipple. It is used for latch on issues or for mothers with particularly sore nipples. I decided to use it to reintroduce him to nursing as his latching and sucking abilities got stronger.
It feels similar to the bottle nipple and though my son resisted at first, he eventually figured it out. I let him nurse with the nipple shield for about a week.
After the first week, I let him nurse for a few minutes with the shield. Then I whipped off the shield and presented him with my bare nipple. He fussed. I put the shield back on and he finished nursing.
Keep in mind that I continued to pump and store milk during this entire month to retain my milk supply. I used these heating/cooling breast pads to help reduce pain.
During each session I would take off the shield when he was nursing contentedly and try without it. Each time, I increased the amount of time he would have with the bare nipple.
I never said this process wouldn’t take patience! But patience is easy to find when you want your baby to breastfeed.
It took about of month of consistent trickery while feeding him, but he eventually did not notice when I took off the shield. By the end of the month, he only fussed when he was given the nipple without the shield at the beginning of the nursing session. After a few seconds of having the shield, I could take it off without an issue. This part of the “training” took the longest to overcome but he finally began to take the nipple without the shield.
I had several shields so that I did not have to take the time to clean and sanitize it after each feeding. This helped during the late night/early morning hours.
For many new moms, once their child refuses the nipple or has can’t latch on, the protective instinct kicks in and mom just wants her baby to eat. I get that. But I also know that nipple confusion can be overcome. I am not a lactation consultant (yet) or an expert at breastfeeding by any means–but I do know that this worked for us.
If you want to breastfeed your nipple confused baby, don’t lose hope. You can do it. For some great information on breastfeeding, be sure to check out La Leche League International.
Have you experienced nipple confusion? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!
My favorite nursing products:Washable breast pads
Breastfeeding bracelets to keep track of which side I started on.