Sleepy Breastfeeding

Is your sleepy baby about to ruin your breast milk supply?

sleepy breastfeeding baby

Kittens, puppies and sleepy babies are some of the cutest things in the world. But behind that precious, sleepy face is a very real danger to your milk supply.

You see some babies just sleep a lot, or are mellow about nursing – we call that sleepy breastfeeding and their parents think they’ve got the best baby in the world – and they do, but what they may not know is that sleepy breastfeeding may not stimulate your breasts enough to maintain your milk production. Here’s some specific tip you can try to get more active participation from your sleepy baby.

    • Skin-to-skin Time: Undress your baby down to the diaper before nursing and go braless (wear a button-down shirt that can be fully unbuttoned.) This simple strategy wakes up and energizes your baby for a good breastfeeding session.
    • Switch Nursing: Start on one side and carefully watch for when your baby goes from feeding to comfort sucking. When baby is actively feeding you’ll see jaw movement and swallowing, when baby is comfort sucking the jaw movement and swallowing are minimal, and much slower. To learn to see this, pay close attention when you first latch baby on – baby will start with a sucking motion to trigger a let-down, when the let-down happens baby will start the jaw movements and swallowing of active feeding – this is what you are watching for. As baby gets sleepy, or the let-down slows down, baby will switch to comfort sucking – as soon as you suspect this, take your baby off and put him or her on the other side. Again watch for the switch to comfort sucking then switch back to the first side. Watch again and switch to the second side to finish up. It’s often helpful to burp baby or change the diaper between switches to help prevent sleepy breastfeeding.
    • Double Nursing: Instead of switch nursing you can try double nursing. To double nurse, feed your baby like usual on both sides without letting him or her fall asleep. Then walk about with your baby upright for 10-20 minutes to get all the bubbles and burps out to make room for more milk. Then breastfeed your baby again on both sides before letting him or her drift off to sleep.
  • Play Games: Stimulate baby to stay awake by tickling, and playing with baby. Some babies can get distracted by this, but most will smile or giggle and latch back on to continue breastfeeding. It can be a lot of fun for both of you, and can help baby to overcome sleepy breastfeeding.

Remember to maintain your milk supply, don’t allow a sleepy baby to leave milk in your breasts. Avoid sleepy breastfeeding!

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