Big Baby Behaviors (4 Months & Older)

Big babies develop little annoying habits that can grow into big annoying habits when they are older. Here are tips to help navigate those behaviors.

Big babies don’t need to nurse every two hours like little babies. You can take away the boob without worrying it will nutritionally harm them.

Big Babies know how to nurse. You can’t fix their latch or force them to nurse. You can only change your behavior.

Annoying little habits develop that can grow into big annoying habits when babies are older. The longer you wait, the harder it is to change.

This is the beginning of discipline. Embrace it. 

Babies start these behaviors because they are bored, know how your milk works better than you do, and/or they are learning cause and effect (ex: if I bite, my mom screams).

This is a great time to start baby sign language. The most helpful ones to start with are usually milk, all done, more, please, and hurt.

Pay attention to when the behavior happens and why it happens. Are you coaxing him to take the breast when baby said no? Is baby half asleep? Is baby teething? Is baby ending with a bang? Is baby curious of cause and effect?

Now anticipate. Once you know why, you can try to prevent. Is baby falling asleep? Unlatch. Is baby slowing down? Unlatch and say all done.

Discipline can help in some of these scenarios too. When baby bites or pinches, sign and say “Ouch. No bite. That hurts me.” Then take boob away. If baby is upset about this, baby will likely not bite again because bite = no milk. If baby isn’t upset, baby probably didn’t need to nurse at that time. If baby bites, baby is not eating. Baby can’t eat and bite at the same time. 

If teething is the issue, you can give the baby a breastmilk ice cube in a teething feeder. 

This is a phase and it too shall pass.


Drive By Nursing

If this is bothering you, start nursing dialog with your baby. Example: Baby crawls by and wants to nurse. Say “oh you want to nurse? Let’s nurse.” If baby unlatches say something like “okay you are all done nursing. We will nurse again around nap time.” Then stick to that. Baby will learn that nursing happens at certain times.

You can also come up with your own additional rules. Example: We only sit, not stand while nursing. We don’t nurse in this chair. These will vary person to person. 

Your baby will be very upset about these new boundaries. You can sympathize with baby and tell them you understand this is upsetting. Then try to distract. 

Distracted Baby

Baby is interested in the world. Try to position yourself so they can see what they are interested in. Go to a quiet or dim room. Use a cover to limit distractions if that seems to help baby. Give baby something interesting to hold to occupy them while nursing.

Rude Requests

How do you want baby to ask for milk? Sign milk? Say milk? Encourage this. Make expectations clear. Start this before you think you need to. This will help with nursing manners as baby gets older.