Is your baby nursing for only 5-10 minutes maximum and falling asleep? Is your milk supply or your baby’s weight decreasing because he/she is spending the day sleeping instead of nursing? How to keep baby awake while breastfeeding and why? How to make sure the baby is nursing in the first place?
Yes!! it is so challenging to keep sleepy newborns awake long enough to eat an adequate amount of breast milk.
Breast milk is easily digested so infants should nurse every 2 hours per day which means you are going to suffer for around 12 times per 24 hours or at least 8 times per day.
That’s too exhausting!!
Check out how to keep baby awake while breastfeeding so he can drain breast better.
But why is it so important to keep baby awake during nursing?
- After birth infants loose weight so you need to feed as much as you can to help protect them from any health issues.
- If your baby has infant jaundice (a yellow discoloration of the skin) tend to be very sleepy. The more they drink, the more they poop and so the less jaundice they will have and the more alert they will become.
- As often as you breastfeed as you can stimulate your breast milk supply.
- Massage and breast compression: Massage your breast before the feeding and squeeze it to release more milk and increase milk flow. Here is a video by Dr Jack Newman (famous lactation consultant in Canada) on how to do breast compression while nursing to encourage the baby to drink milk better and stay awake for longer!
- Massage baby’s palms in a circle with your thumbs. Do this for up to a minute if needed to help baby open his mouth and get ready to nurse.
- Run your finger gently along your baby’s crown head, cheeks or feet.
- try skin-to-skin contact on your chest more often and for longer periods, to motivate nursing.
- Interrupt the nursing session when you feel your baby’s sucking is getting slow. Break the suction by inserting your finger between the edge of your baby’s lip and his/her areola. Withdraw the nipple and re-position it in the mouth.
- Change nursing positions Example: if you are nursing in the cradle position, switch to football hold (it is less cuddly position)
- Burp: Sitting the baby upright to burp may help.
- Change diapers: if the baby refused to wake up after burping, change his diaper.
- Undress the baby and apply a cold diaper wipe, this may help him to wake up.
- Switch breasts often, remove from breast, wake him up then continue feeding on the second breast.
- Rub, or tickle feet, toes, hands and/or underarms of your baby
- Stroke his/her face
- Talk or sing to baby
- Stroke baby’s spine or walk your fingers up baby’s spine
- Use soft washcloth on face/neck
- Blow gently into baby’s face
- Unsaddle or Remove his clothes
- Sit baby upright since this is a hard position to fall asleep in
- Massage the crown of the baby’s head
- Apply gentle pressure to the baby’s chin and just below the belly button to stimulate the baby’s urge to suckle.
- Bicycle baby’s legs and arms
- Feed baby in a light & noisy environment
How to tell if baby is eating or sleeping?
During breastfeeding look at your baby’s throat and check if it is moving and listen to his swallowing.
Most lactation consultants suggest to check the frequency of wet and dirty diapers as an indicator that baby is feeding well.
- Kellymom: Sleepy Babies
- Ask dr. sears: techniques of waking sleeping baby
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Burping, Hiccups and Spitting Up
- U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Plasma cholecystokinin Concentrations After Breast Feeding in Healthy 4 Day Old Infants
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All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always revert to your physician for impact change in your lifestyle.