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Baby falls asleep while breastfeeding? Here’s what to do

When you bring your newborn home, if you are a breastfeeding mama, you know that your little one is going to want to feed throughout the entirety of the day, including those late nights and very early mornings. But just as much as we are the tired ones, our babies, in addition to wanting to eat around the clock, also need a lot of sleep in order for them to grow. So, naturally, when they are in the middle of breastfeeding, they may fall asleep at your breast. According to Medela, it’s been said that babies are actually biologically programmed to fall asleep at the breast due to a hormone. So, it is definitely bound to happen! When baby falls asleep while breastfeeding, there are different things you can do to ease them back awake.

How to keep baby awake during breastfeeding

Quiet stimulation

If you have found that your baby has fallen asleep at the breast while feeding, gentle and quiet stimulation can help to rouse them awake again. You can begin by gently rubbing the bottoms of their feet and stroking their hands to help them wake up again. If that does not work, you can also sit them up in an upright position and give them a little back rub to help wake them up, as well as to help them expel any gas they may have had. If all else fails, mid-feed, you can go ahead and change their diaper. That will help to keep them awake, and also gives them a clean diaper to fall back asleep when it is time.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Breast compression

This is a great technique to get your baby to start feeding again if they have fallen asleep. All the while that you are breastfeeding your child, their jaw is moving as they feed. When they have stopped moving their jaw, compressing your breast gently encourages your child to wake up. What you are doing is, you are kind of squirting a little bit of breast milk into a corner of their mouth so that they will taste it and will start to latch on again and begin feeding until they are finished. Another tried-and-true trick is to switch to the other breast when they fall asleep. They will wake back up because they are being switched from one breast to the other.

Skin-on-skin contact

Another way to keep your baby awake while they are nursing is to try skin-to-skin contact. This will help to stimulate them to stay awake for a breastfeeding session. All you have to do is to remove your shirt and bra and remove your baby’s clothes, less the diaper, of course. Then, just try laying them on your chest for a little while. Doing this can kind of kickstart their natural feeding instincts and will help to keep them awake. If you are worried that your baby may be too cold in just their diaper, you can drape a breathable blanket over them. But for the most part, the skin-on-skin contact will keep them warm enough.

Smiling Mom Breastfeeding
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Make sure there is a good latch

You may not even notice it, but your little one may not have a good latch, and thus, falls asleep. So, when you are feeding your child, make sure that you check the latch. If they have kind of lost it, you can try to help them re-latch by adjusting them so that they have a chance to latch on again. This is something that happens a lot with babies, where the latch isn’t totally there, so, it is best to check it.

The environment

When all else fails, you can try to turn on some soft yet stimulating music while they can keep themselves a little more engaged and in the moment. Even encourage them by running your finger up their back to keep them awake while you are helping them feed. You can also try some dim lighting, as this can also help to stimulate them a little bit so that they can keep feeding in a gentle environment, which is conducive to a wonderful feeding session.

These are all great tips on how to keep your baby awake while breastfeeding. However, if none of these seem to work for you, you may want to consider supplementing with your own expressed milk to help them to stay on a feeding schedule. If you are truly worried about your child always falling asleep while breastfeeding, you can always contact their pediatrician with any questions or concerns that you may have. They can help you figure out what to do to keep your baby from falling asleep while breastfeeding. It’s important that your child gets at least 10 feedings a day, so nighttime feedings are integral to their growth.

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Jennifer Passmore
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jennifer has written two books on how to deal with living with chronic illness using the power of positivity. She has written…
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