A baby sleeping peacefully 

Baby Keeps Sleeping When Breastfeeding

Cue Feeding Jan 5, 2021

How to Keep Baby Awake While Breastfeeding

The extreme growth and development in the first few weeks can sometimes make it difficult for a baby to stay awake.

A baby under two weeks of age will need to be woken at least every two hours for feedings, so they do not dehydrate.

With each feeding, your baby should be actively sucking and swallowing for at least 20 minutes. A mother also needs to keep to this so that her milk supply does not decrease. Remember, the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will start to produce.

After two weeks, a mother can start breastfeeding on demand. Once you and your baby have discovered your unique breastfeeding routine, things should start improving.

The first few weeks of breastfeeding are sometimes tough - it does get easier!

Co-sleeping at night can help when breastfeeding a sleepy baby and allow your baby to nurse whenever they want to.

There are so many things that Mom can do to help keep her baby awake while breastfeeding. If you have some of your ideas, please share them at the bottom of the page.

A photo from the 1st week of life.
Photo by Carlo Navarro / Unsplash

Sleepy Newborn Breastfeeding Tips

Tips on how to wake a sleepy baby for breastfeeding

  • Pretend you will remove your nipple from your baby’s mouth or put your finger between your breast and their mouth to break the suction; this will usually encourage your baby to suck again.
  • Dribble some milk into the corner of your baby’s mouth with a syringe or dropper to encourage them to start sucking again.
  • Try breast compressions to get the milk to flow faster while breastfeeding; this should encourage your baby to start suckling again.
  • Use a wet face cloth and wipe your baby’s head, tummy, or feet.
  • Switch breasts when your baby starts to fall asleep.
  • Burp the baby while they are sitting upright.
  • Use a breastfeeding position that is less "sleep-inducing," like letting your baby lie in the football hold or straddling position.
  • Try tickling your baby under the arms, on the feet, or in the neck. Just touching your baby gently on the arms, legs, or ears can wake them again.
  • Undress your baby, or keep their feet uncovered if it is too cold to undress completely. It will be more difficult for your baby to sleep if they are not warm and cozy.
  • Change your baby’s diaper before you breastfeed and during a breastfeeding session.
  • Stroke Baby’s cheek and lips with your nipple.
  • Put some quick-tempo music on, loud enough to wake your baby.
  • Try taking a bath with your baby.
  • Run a finger gently down your baby’s spine.

If your baby is still sleeping while breastfeeding, even after trying all the above, you can leave them to sleep and breastfeed when they wake.

All babies sleep a lot initially, and many moms worry about this. You don't need to worry if your baby is still producing dirty and wet diapers.

If you are still concerned that your baby is not drinking enough, you can contact your lactation consultant or pediatrician.

After two weeks, you can start to feed your baby when they signal to be fed, but babies under two weeks generally need to be woken up for feedings every two hours.


Why Some Babies Are More Sleepy Than Others

The Cause of over-sleepiness in newborn babies

  • Exhaustion resulting from overstimulation, such as loud noises and bright lights.
  • Any medications given to a mother during labor or c-section.
  • Babies that are sick are usually sleepier.
  • When a mother’s milk starts to "come in" within the third day, her baby may be a little sleepier due to an overfull tummy.
  • Mom's let-down reflex might be too slow, making her baby sleepy at the breast.
  • Jaundice can make babies very sleepy. A baby with Jaundice must drink enough breast milk because if they do not, Jaundice will worsen.

Incorporating a fixed sleeping schedule can help your baby sleep longer stretches of time.

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Tracy Behr

Mom of two, breastfeeding helper, and lover of all things natural! Studying a breastfeeding counselor course via Childbirth int. & plant-based nutrition via the Nutrition Inst.

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