Finally the mystery is solved! We’ve been wondering for a long time now why Sophie (and Bella too) would say “ballerina” when she put something on her head: a book, a pillow, a basket. Later as her vocabulary grew a bit more sophisticated she would elaborate to, “Like a ballerina.”

Then the other day Dom was putting up the umbrella over the table in the backyard and Sophie exclaimed, “Like a ballerina!” We were both stumped. Why was she connecting ballerinas with umbrellas? Had she seen a book with a ballerina holding an umbrella?

And then soon after we were flipping through a book and she pointed to a picture of an umbrella: “Ballerina!” It clicked. She thought the word for umbrella was ballerina! To test my theory I pulled out another book with a picture of an umbrella, “What is this, Sophie?” I asked. “Ballerina,” she replied. Aha! I suppose the words do sound a little bit alike to a two year-old.

I gently corrected her that it was indeed an umbrella. And that was that. Now I understand why they parade around with books on their heads chanting, “Ballerina, ballerina, ballerina.”

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  • Nursing “strikes” are pretty common.  If you want to continue nursing, don’t force him, but coax him back to the breast.  Make sure he is getting enough solids/water so he isn’t starving when you try to nurse.  Offer the breast frequently, but don’t force it so that he becomes upset.  Try expressing some milk first so he doesn’t have to wait for let-down.  Wear clothing that allows very quick access to the breast.  Carry him & snuggle him as much as possible.  You might find that comfort nursing returns first with nutritive nursing returning second.  Also, you may want to express milk at those times when he would normally nurse so your milk supply doesn’t decrease.  HTH!

  • I’m definitely not pregnant. He’s not teething, he just got six in. Ear infection seems improbable as he hasn’t had a col or stuffy nose or anything.

    Bella and Sophie didn’t wean till 17 and 16 months respectively, so this seems super early to me.

    All the info on nursing strikes I’ve found seems really aimed at moms of younger babies and hard for me to see how to implement it.

    I already offer frequently, wear accessible clothing, let down has never been an issues. Carrying and snuggling are not what he really wants. He wants to be crawling and exploring. I’ve never had much luck with expressing/pumping. Just can’t get the hang of it.

  • My second son didn’t want to nurse anymore at 10.5 months.  But he also refused a bottle and would only drink water out of a cup.  I asked the pediatrician what to do, and he said, just give him a lot of yogurt and cheese.  So simple!  And that was it, he just ate a lot and drank water and was a healthy happy chubby baby.  No breast milk of formula or milk at all from the ages of 10.5 months until 2, when I finally got him to start drinking chocolate milk.  Good luck!! Oh, and if Ben will drink from a bottle, I would invest in a good electric pump, that’s the only way I could get more than an ounce of two out smile

  • I’m no expert, but my second abruptly stopped nursing. I wrote about it here:  It turned out to be a nursing strike (which led to the conception of Mary
    Elizabeth). She picked up nursing again and then self-weaned two months before M.E. was born. But she was never a zealous nursling like her sisters. She had terrible reflux that continued even when she started solids (she would hurl carrot-hued spitup all over our carpets after every meal), and that I strongly suspect that contributed to her reluctance to nurse, especially since I make way too much milk and drown my poor children.

    When she was refusing to nurse around a year, my mom-in-law, who is a lactation consultant, recommended offering and then accepting if she didn’t want it while continuing to pump in case she wanted to nurse again. I’m glad I took her advice because one day she wanted to nurse again and never nipped me again. 

    I love extended breastfeeding because it helps with NFP for me, because it offers quiet time in my crazy days, and because it’s an easy way to calm frustrated toddlers.  If only it remained so easy to pacify my children! grin

    Ben sure is cute eating those beets.  grin

  • From all the comments here, it sounds to me like a nursing strike or he is just weaning. Sorry I can’t be more help. I’ve actually had to force Elizabeth to begin weaning. I’ve never had a child bite like she does. She has drawn blood. It wasn’t exactly the way I would have liked things to go but, unfortunately, I can only take so much abuse and nothing I seemed to do seemed to get the message across to not bite me. But I digress.

    I love the pictures of Ben. He is adorable and you can really see Dom in his face. Prayers for you and Ben.

  • 10 months is fairly early to self-wean so suddenly, but it’s actually a fairly common age for nursing strikes. I would just try to reduce your anxiety about it if you’ve ruled out illness in both him and you. there may still be a minor discomfort issue – he may have some inner ear stuff due to pollen allergies that you just haven’t noticed. Additionally, If your menstruation has or is about to return – likely if he’s been getting more solids – he may object to what your hormones are doing to the milk.

    Don’t force the issue but continue to calmly try to nurse a few times a day. Yes, it’s possible that he won’t want to nurse again, but it’s just as likely that he will. A good experiment is to pump and give him the milk in baby cereal or a bottle or cup and see what his taste buds think. at first he may find it odd, but if he seems to object to the flavor, that may give you some more insight. If he does decide to wean, i would suggest pumping a bit and making that milk a prominent part of his diet – in cereal or to drink. Also – how does he do when he is asleep or mostly asleep? If he’s still upset about it when he’s mostly asleep but hungry, you’ll know that it’s something specific to your milk.

    Don’t fret too much. you and he will both be ok.

  • My kids cut way back on nursing when they started eating solids.  Food was just quicker and tastier than breast milk, I guess.  Living on one food for the better part of a year might make him long for variety.  And he already wants to be “big” like Sophie and Bella.  Don’t worry about it!  Ben will find ways to stay close to you; if it’s his way and not yours, then consider this a first step (the most difficult) toward letting go.

    A word to the wise.  If he is old enough (> 8 mos), I would see if you can get him to drink from a regular cup.  He will be messy for a while, but patience pays off within a month or two, when you are not dependent on sippys.

  • The only reason I asked about a possible ear infection is because I was totally surprised twice by taking what I thought was a perfectly healthy child in for a well child check only to be told that they had ear infections. No noticeable symptoms, no cause like a cold or sniffles, just suddenly there. But maybe that was just my kids.

  • Thanks, everyone for the advice and support. I’ve just never had a baby refuse so forcefully it took me aback and I’ve been nursing for about 44 months now with only a five month break between Bella and Sophie.


    Ben did have some reflux as a baby. We had him sleeping propped up in his car seat carrier for months because it was the only way he would sleep until he could roll over and sleep on his belly. So that might be a culprit, I don’t know. He hasn’t been spitting as much since he started solids but every couple of days there is a little bit. He did spit a bit of muffin up this morning.


    My sympathies! Sophie had a major biting problem. Though she never drew blood.

    Well I expressed a little milk this morning—maybe 3 or 4 ounces—and he drank some from a cup so it’s not a taste issue. (He sure was mad at me while I was expressing, though.)

    Then I left him with my sister while the girls and I went to the grocery store. I figured there was a chance he’d nap at home, virtually none of him sleeping at the store. And maybe we could both calm down. Or at least I could.

    That did work at least. By the time we’d done our shopping I was in a much better frame of mind. The grocery store was full of little old ladies who gushed over the girls and not at all annoyed by them darting in front of shopping carts and planting themselves in the middle of the aisle while rapt in thought. No obnoxious shoppers or rude comments. (Though having only two kids doesn’t so much invite the “you have your hands full”.)

    My sister got Ben to eat more oatmeal and apples and cheese then he fell asleep on her lap. He woke up as we walked in and I picked him up and did get him to nurse for a decent amount of time on both sides while he was still sleepy.

    But when afternoon nap time came he wanted nothing to do with nursing yet again, though I’m feeling rather full. He’s cranky but won’t go down to sleep. He starts screaming when I try to take him near his crib or even cradle him while sitting down.

    Maybe I should take him by to get his ears looked at.

  • Could it be that he’s on a growth spurt and is just hungry for more calories than nursing provides?  Mine all weaned around 16 months, but I know that before that, sometimes when they were growing they’d just want their solids.  Of course, that doesn’t explain the wanting to drink water from the cup, but if the big kids do it, the younger ones often want to follow along.

  • After he cried for a couple of hours at nap time and refused to sleep I called the pediatrician and she got him in right away.

    His ears are fine. His throat and chest are fine. But when she opened his mouth to look in his throat her little light spotted swollen gums I hadn’t noticed before. I feel like such a rookie mom: he’s cutting his back teeth! We’ll see if some pain relief doesn’t bring back his desire to nurse.

    Oh yeah and while we were waiting for the doctor, Ben decided to make the hand sign for milk, which is our signal for nursing. Um, bad timing, kiddo. There was no way I was going to wrestle with trying to nurse a fussy baby with several strange men walking in and out of the office. No way that was going to happen modestly! So we’re home and we’ll let the Tylenol do it’s stuff and the Orajel.

  • Melanie, Oh I’m so glad you figured out what was wrong. Wow! Cutting first molars already! Hope Ben and you are feeling some relief soon!

  • Kate,
    I just read your post on Rae’s nursing strike. Wow! you caught all my feelings so precisely.

    Though ecological breastfeeding has never worked for us. My cycles have always returned at 6 or 7 months.

  • I’m sure you’ve already dismissed pregnancy.  My mother-in-law tells me that one of her kids refused to nurse at under a year old once she was pregnant again. 
    But it isn’t unheard-of for a 10 month old to self wean, especially if they have the alternatives and motiviation, like older siblings, mobility, and sippy cups.

  • My kids all self weaned by the age of 12 months. No extended nursing here! I don’t remember specifically but I’m sure they started the process around 10 months and just took a little longer with it. One thing I would try to rule out, after pregnancy of course, is an ear infection or even just fluid built up in the ear. Sometimes they can be sneaky and not show any other signs of infection but the minute you place the child in that nursing position, it bothers them enough to make them fight against it. Sitting upright and eating is more comfortable. If everything checks out, I’d say you have a little boy with big things to do in this world and he is ready to set about doing them. No time to nurse momma! He’s gotta get busy!

  • My fertility is VERY tied to my nursing. I seem to be more sensitive to it than a lot of moms. My second’s nursing strike caused my cycle to return and I got pregnant the next month. With my first, I had to gently wean at 22 months and again, poof! I was pregnant the next month. Still no cycle with Mary at 14 months, but she still nurses all. of. the. time. I’m going to have to consider night weaning soon. I’m just so tired. I’m enjoying all these nursing discussions!  grin

  • Well even though mine isn’t tied to nursing, I can still relate to the poof. This is the first time I’ve not been pregnant on the second cycle after fertility’s return.

    Ben is totally night weaned. I figured since my cycle had come back anyway and I was completely exhausted I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. He regularly sleeps 10 or 11 hours at night and now if I’m exhausted (and I frequently am) I usually only have myself to blame now for staying up too late. The nicest fringe benefit of night weaning for me has been that I’ve been getting up to pray before anyone else is up and that makes my days go much, much more smoothly.