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 that is under two weeks of age will need to be woken at least every two hours for feedings so that he/she does not dehydrate.

With each feeding, your baby should be actively sucking and be swallowing for at least 20 minutes. A mother also needs to keep to this, so that her own 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 will allow your baby to nurse whenever he/she wants 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 as though you are going to remove your nipple from your baby’s mouth, or put your finger between your breast and his/her 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 him/her 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 with it.
  • Switch breasts when your baby starts to fall asleep.
  • Burp baby while he/she is sitting upright.
  • Use a breastfeeding position that is less "sleep-inducing," like letting your baby lie in the football hold position 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 him/her again.
  • Undress your baby or if it is too cold to undress completely, keep his/her feet uncovered. It will be more difficult for your baby to sleep if he/she is 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 him/her to sleep, and breastfeed when he/she wakes.

All babies do sleep a lot in the beginning, and many moms worry about this. If your baby is still producing enough dirty and wet diapers, you don’t need to worry.

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 he/she signals 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 over-stimulation such as loud noises and/or 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 and therefore makes her baby sleepy at the breast.
  • Jaundice can make babies very sleepy. It's imperative that a baby with Jaundice drinks enough breast milk because if he/she does not, the jaundice will worsen.


Tracy Behr

A homeschooling mother of two, breastfeeding helper, and lover of all things natural! Currently studying plant-based nutrition.

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