Beware of Holiday Weaning

With the holiday season fast approaching, I am anticipating getting calls about fussy babies and low milk production. Why does the holiday season bring about these calls? Because moms get busy. There’s Christmas shopping to do, cards to write and mail, parties to attend, groceries to do, meals to be planned and prepared, traveling and visiting with friends and family etc. The holidays are a busy time, and sometimes in all the hustle and bustle and excitement, breastfeeding is often (unintentionally) disrupted.

It’s easy for feedings to be missed when your baby is being passed from family member to family member. For some babies this might not be a problem if they are the type of baby who will protest loudly (usually prompting a quick return to mom). For babies who tend to be very easy going however, two things can happen in this situation. One, is that your baby becomes overwhelmed by the stimulation and shuts down by going to sleep. The other is that well meaning family members, in an attempt to “give you a break”, try to soothe your baby rather than handing him over for you to nurse, and again, your baby shuts down and goes to sleep (and misses a feeding). Older babies may be too distracted by all the excitement to actually settle down and nurse. Sometimes feedings may be missed or held off because you’re in the car (out shopping etc), and it’s not a convenient time to nurse.

Because milk production works according to supply and demand, these missed feedings can have an impact on the amount of milk you produce. Another factor is that stress can inhibit letdown (and lets face it, the holidays are often a stressful time!). If letdown is slow, this can result in a baby who is fussing at the breast which can cause a mom to doubt her ability to feed her child. Baby is fussing not because milk production is low, but because the milk isn’t letting down fast enough and he’s getting impatient. Sometimes however, depending on how patient your baby is, he may not take in as much milk as usual. This sends a signal to your body to slow down milk production and if the situation is prolonged, it can result in true low production of milk.

Along with this is the inevitable unsolicited advice from family members and friends which can sometimes shake a mother’s confidence that she is doing the right thing “How can he be hungry again? You just fed him!” “You’re going to spoil him by nursing him and holding him so much”. “Are you sure you have enough milk?” Comments like these can cause a mother to question her abilities and choices.

A temporary dip in milk production due to a few missed feedings and holiday stress, is usually easily fixed by increasing the frequency of nursing and spending as much time as possible skin-to-skin with your baby. Sometimes however, the holidays are a slippery slope to early weaning. Missed feedings, fussiness due to over stimulation and a mom’s decreased confidence in herself due to comments from friends and family can lead to the introduction of bottles. If mom is not pumping every time her baby gets a bottle, her body gets the message to slow down milk production. Combine this with the possibility of baby developing a preference for the fast flow of milk from a bottle, and soon you have a baby that isn’t happy at the breast. With perseverance the situation can usually be resolved, but more often than not it leads to complete weaning from breastfeeding, and can leave mom with a lot of self doubt.

In order to avoid holiday weaning, remember: family first, and people before things. It’s OK to set limits and say no to family and friends if you feel that you (or your baby!) can’t cope. Try to make sure that your baby is nursing according to his/her usual pattern, and be alert to your baby’s cues. Be prepared to intervene if your baby is getting over stimulated, needs some extra nursing etc. If necessary, find a quiet place to nurse so that your baby is not distracted while nursing, and most important of all, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty if nursing is preventing you from “helping out”. Your baby doesn’t know it’s the holidays, and his needs don’t change just because it’s a busy time of the year. Frequent nursing will make sure that your baby continues to get what he needs, will help to protect both of you from the stresses of the holiday season, and will prevent holiday weaning. Happy Holidays!




  1. Adriane Hoitt says:

    Great post! When my daughter was 3 months old we visited family for Thanksgiving. The travel, activity, rushing around and my hesitance to feed in front of my family caused me to get a plugged duct that almost became mastitis. I learned my lesson! When Christmas rolled around I prioritized feeding her over holiday obligations. That allowed me to actually use the holidays (and the associated days off from work) as a nursing vacation, resulting in a huge boost in supply!

  2. Thank you for this article-it explains why my nearly 6 month old has needed to eat more at night the last few days. We have been out and about and she was much more interested in watching all the activity than nursing. I would try to nurse and she would unlatch so she could look around! Now I am less frustrated by the night feedings. She is just making sure she gets what she needs!

    • Fleur (Nurtured Child) says:

      You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚ Six months is also a common time for growth and developmental spurts. Lots of growing and learning going on!

  3. Donna Wood says:

    Thank you for this article. I’m a maternity nurse in Kelowna and Vernon and advocate for breastfeeding. I love the info you provide for new mums, keep up the great work!!

  4. I am both shocked and horrified by this post! The idea that a mother could forget to feed her baby is appauling. That is child neglect. What is even worse is that not only does this post appear to condone such bad parenting, but it insinuates that the mothers milk supply dropping is the big issue… Hello what about your poor starving baby? Disgusting post and I sincerely hope there aren’t any parents like this out there.

    • Yes it can happen to a busy, overtired, distracted mom. Doesn’t mean the child doesn’t eat for days on end or that Mom doesn’t intend to feed baby. Heck, I forgot to pack my 3 yr old son a lunch for school once it doesn’t mean I am neglectful! Really easy to get off track when your child nurses on demand not a schedule too and you’re not watching the clock. To insinuate any mom would intentionally do that is hurtful. We all make mistakes and this is a very encouraging article in my opinion. Any perfect parents out there who never forgot to feed a baby on time, never ran out of diapers, always discipline without yelling, never let their kid have too much sugar or TV, well kudos to you you’re much better at this than me!!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Me I’m a work in progress still learning every day how to be a good mom by trial and error.

    • Oh for the love of God. It’s YOU that is disgusting. You can’t read either. She didn’t say you forget to feed your baby you twit!she said that you get busy or the baby is busy and the child doesn’t que you to eat. Is it to their abuse when the baby forgets that it’s hungry? Your kids don’t go out to play and forget to come in and eat lunch occasionally? D you live in a box? Get off your soapbox. You’re horrible. Merry Christmas to you too…

    • Donna Wood says:

      You need to read the article again, nobody is starving their baby! This is an excellent article for mums to help understand their bodies and baby’s needs (supply and demand). I guess there always is “that person” who has nothing better to do than complain and get attention. Hope you can have a Merry Christmas and be a more positive person in 2013!

    • Fleur (Nurtured Child) says:

      As others have already noted, this post is certainly not about anyone “starving their baby”. It is about babies missing a few feedings in the busy holiday season, usually because the babies themselves are very distracted by all the activity and may not ask to nurse as often as they usually would.

  5. I had a baby on December 19th a couple years ago. My family was under the impression that he was a non stop nurser because I would nurse him under a cover (who wants to display the brand new functioning boobs with pervy uncle Pete?) and let him fall asleep under the cover. Everyone was commenting “Oh my! He sure has been eating for a very long time!”. My response was “Yes! Isn’t that great! He already gained back his birth weight!” The reality was I just didn’t want to share my new baby with my very pushy family. Yes, everyone got to see him and most people held him when he was awake.

  6. My babies always nursed way more often around the holidays – it was their way of controlling the situation. They didn’t like being passed around and knew that if they were nursing it meant mama was holding them. It was frustrating at first, but once I figured out what they needed I put baby into a carrier and we were all happy.

  7. after reading this, I realized how lucky I was that my son was born in January — I know enough about nursing now to know that I make enough and how to replenish the supply if it does somehow take a hit…. as a brand new mother, I would have easily fallen for the “you don’t make enough” line last year since I Didn’t know as much about nursing then!

  8. This is so true, and something I have written about before on my blog. Another common issue around the holidays, for the same reasons you list here, is mastitis. Mom is busy/stressed, baby is distracted and nurses less… whammo, plugged ducts and mastitis.

  9. What a great reminder and I needed it. just this weekend I was noticing my milk not coming in like it used to with two nursing. and it reminded me how busy i had been.

    thank you so much

  10. Great reminder of great advice! Thank you!

  11. I Love this article and have posted it on my blog and facebook account.
    Great stuff!
    Liz Pevytoe, RN, IBCLC

  12. Hahahaha!
    This is exactly why we are having no family over, we are staying home and decorating our Christmas tree and ordering pizza or something else that we’re gonna cook from frozen! I don’t feel like cleaning and cooking and entertaning with a 10 day old at home!

  13. รขโ‚ฌล“How can he be hungry again? You just fed him!รขโ‚ฌย You must know my family. I’ve already been hearing this and my baby is barely a month old. It’s tough when you’re surrounded by family that has never breastfed and doesn’t know much about it. But this is re-assurance that it’s okay to stand my ground and act on my intuition. Thank you.

  14. Timely post… thanks! I wrote an open letter to my family to address issues you brought up. Check out my blog to see it!

  15. Jessica Trunk says:

    Thanks a lot for this post. It helps reassure me a bit that everything will be okay even though everything is going to start getting crazy soon. My lil bub is only five months old, no way is it time to wean!

  16. This is a fantastic post. Thanks so much! Mind if I quote you for a post of my own on

    • Thanks Christie. As long as credit is given, you’re certainly welcome to share it. The more it gets “out there” the more moms it may help. ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. […] This just came across on my facebook page from While Traci is our in-house breastfeeding guru, I just had to jump in and post this, just in time for the most wonderful time of the year. […]

  2. […] Beware of Holiday Weaning (The Nurtured Child): If you are a breastfeeding mom, you should be aware that breastfeeding can often be unintentionally disrupted by the excitement and business of the holiday. Take steps to protect your nursing relationship. […]

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