At this point, you have your rhythm down, and breastfeeding feels a lot easier. Things seem to be going well, but suddenly, you have a distractible baby popping on and off your breast every minute.
What is happening?
You entered a new developmental stage, and it makes nursing a bit more complicated. Your baby now realizes that life beyond the boob is interesting. All of the sounds and sights are fascinating, and while he still needs to fill his belly, he also needs to figure out what is happening everywhere.
It’s not uncommon to find your baby distracted while nursing. We all enter this phase; all four of my children did at some point as they grew. While frustrating, remind yourself that this is normal; here are some suggestions to help you handle this stage with less frustration.
What Age Do Babies Get Distracted While Nursing?
Distractibility can start around two months of age when your baby finally can see further than just a few inches away from this face.
That’s not when it typically begins, though. For most babies, they start to become distracted between 4-6 months and any age after that. At this point, babies are interested in the world around them with increased awareness and the ability to play with toys. Your child might be rolling around purposefully or attempting to crawl.
At this age, your baby doesn’t want to self-wean; it’s rare for a child to self-wean before one-year-old. So, know that your baby still wants and needs to breastfeed – he needs the nutrients and vitamins several times per day.
That doesn’t stop him from wondering what the sound could be or what was that shimmering light in the corner. Your baby might hear a sibling and need to look around to find him, or dad could enter the room, causing a new interest.
How Long Does Distracted Nursing Last?
Typically, this distraction phase peaks between 8-10 months. Your baby knows life is going on at this stage, but he’s also quite efficient while breastfeeding. Babies rarely spend long at the breast because they can drain a breast in no time.
Your baby will still be distracted; any noise will make him turn around and look. If his dad walks into the room, most older infants will turn and look, but they can finish nursing in 5-10 minutes. It makes it a lot easier to ensure your baby is getting all of the nutrients needed.
How Do I Stop My Baby From Getting Distracted While Breastfeeding?
You don’t want to stop breastfeeding; you know that it’s vital for your baby to have plenty of breast milk at this stage, but who wants to deal with a baby who is fidgety while breastfeeding? There are things that you can do to make the situation a bit better!
Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact with your baby while breastfeeding can make a difference. When I had a 4-month-old distracted while nursing, eye contact helped keep my baby focused on me and nursing. It’s eye to keep him looking in the right direction rather than around the room.
Nurse in a Dark Room
Nothing is worse than when your baby keeps pulling off the breast and relatching because everything around him is more interesting than nursing. If your baby is distracted by every sound and sight, you might need to try nursing in a dark, quiet room away from the rest of your family.
That can be hard if you have other kids that need to be tended and watched even if you’re breastfeeding. If you can’t leave the room, make sure you turn off the TV or turn down the volume and try to distract your other child.
Try Using a Nursing Necklace
My babies loved it when I wore a nursing necklace; I typically used this trick when I went out somewhere and wanted my baby to focus and breastfeed.
So, what is a nursing necklace?
Most are made of silicone, and your baby can chew on them as well. They have beads or dangles that your baby can play with while nursing. While they can be fashionable, you typically just wear them while breastfeeding. Some refer to them as a mother’s necklace or a teething necklace.
Breastfeed While in Motion
Does your baby turn his head to the side when feeding? He probably wants to see the world around him, so do it for him! Try walking around your room while breastfeeding at the same time. You can walk around the house or even bounce on a ball. Motion can keep your baby interested in what you’re doing, but it also can give him something else to see.
This trick can work well when you have a baby distracted while bottle feeding. It’s easy to walk around the room while feeding your baby a bottle. He gets to see the world around him while eating – that’s a win-win!
Take Advantage of Nighttime Nursing
Babies aren’t distracted at night, so take advantage of this time. So, if nothing else works, you might want to increase your night nursing until this phase passes. It doesn’t matter when your baby takes in all of his calories during 24 hours, so long as he eats the amount needed in that time frame.
Try Again Later
Sometimes, you just have to try again. If your baby refuses to stay latched or your baby talks while breastfeeding and won’t stop, sometimes it’s best to put your baby down and try again in the next 30 minutes or so. When your baby is starving, he should pay attention enough to fill his belly.
Try Not to Panic
It’s normal to experience distracted nursing, even though it can be frustrating for a mother to handle. Know that your baby is healthy, going through a normal part of development. Keep an eye on his growth and wet diapers. If both are normal, then your baby is receiving plenty of breast milk despite being distracted the entire time.
Hey, this is Linda. My biggest accomplishment in life is being a mother of four children. Their current ages range from almost ten years old down to 20 months old.
I’m passionate about writing parenting articles because I understand so well all of the problems and trials you face as a parent. From breastfeeding woes to budgeting problems and behavior problems, along with everything in between, chances are I’ve faced it over the last ten years. Read more about Linda here.