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Your baby falls asleep while nursing? Help is on the way!

One of many challenges that new moms face comes about when the baby falls asleep while nursing. This is quite common but a concern nevertheless.

When you think about it, there are already a lot of tasks to juggle in the early days of motherhood. You’re trying your best to maintain a routine for regular feedings. Aside from that, you’re also trying to get your newborn to latch on and to maintain the latch long enough for him or her to receive adequate nutrition.


And if the situation wasn’t already complex, you’re sleep deprived. You find it difficult to discern what to do.

So take heart. We’ll examine some tips to help you when your baby falls asleep while nursing. Also, we’ll discuss some of the reasons behind this as well as any effects on nutrition and weight gain so that you can decide which options are best for your baby.

My baby falls asleep while nursing. Why? 

Naturally, you wonder why your baby falls asleep while nursing when just a few minutes ago, he or she was hungry (and very vocal about it). Some reasons include the following:

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    Being too warm: your baby’s layers of clothing or the room temperature need adjusting
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    Incomplete latch: your baby falls asleep while nursing because he or she cannot latch on completely
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    Small appetite: a small stomach can only hold so much milk
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    Age: the older a baby gets, the longer he or she will nurse
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    Too much holding: your baby feels warm and cozy in your arms and ends up falling asleep

Basically, a newborn baby falls asleep nursing then wakes up when put down. This is normal mostly because of his or her age. As long your baby appears to be satisfied after a feeding, then there is nothing wrong with this pattern.

Likewise, if your baby still seems to be hungry upon waking back up, then the natural solution is to feed him or her. It might take a few weeks, but this pattern will pass.

What do I do when my baby falls asleep nursing, then wakes up when put down?

If your baby falls asleep nursing, then wakes up after you put him or her down, you might just need to wait it out. It’s a bit early to start establishing patterns, but there are measures that you can take in this situation:

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    Watch what you eat: If you’re taking anything that makes you sleepy, then the same effect is passed on to your baby through your milk. So you will need to be mindful of foods, drinks, and medications while nursing.
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    Adjust the procedure for feeding: Since your baby gets full rather quickly, you will need to wait a few minutes and then try burping. If that doesn’t wake the baby up, then make sure you’re still feeding him or her at least every 2 hours.

Basically, during the first few weeks, you’ll be paying more attention to your baby’s cues for feeding. Check out this video for some more helpful information.

Will falling asleep while nursing affect my child’s nutrition? 

If the typical scenario involves your baby falling asleep during a feeding then waking up shortly after, then this shouldn’t affect weight gain or nutritional value. Your baby is still receiving a good amount of milk just intermittently.

There are times, nevertheless when you should contact your doctor and lactation specialist. These symptoms signal that something is not right with the feeding pattern, and changes need to be made promptly:

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    Low number of soiled diapers
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    Lack of energy even while feeding
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    Yellowish tint to the baby’s skin color and/or in the whites of the eyes
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    Low or no weight gain
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    Weight loss

Therefore, you will need to get your baby to the pediatrician right away. Your doctor can also recommend a lactation specialist who can help if you’re not already working with one.

How can I keep my baby awake?

Well before it ever gets to that point, you can try keeping your baby awake while breastfeeding. Or you can also try waking your baby up soon after putting him or her down.

Here are some tips that you can try:

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    Undress the baby so that he or she is not too warm
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    Dim the lights in order to keep the baby from squinting or closing the eyes
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    Tickle your baby’s feet
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    Talk continuously to your baby
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    Include a reasonable amount of background noise
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    Gently wipe your baby’s face with a warm damp cloth


The good news is, as previously mentioned, your baby will nurse for a longer period of time as he or she gets older. When this happens, then falling asleep won’t be a factor, and the both of you can get some rest.

Just remember some of the hints previously mentioned to follow when your baby falls asleep while nursing:

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    Try keeping your baby awake during the feeding 
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    Wake your baby up soon after he or she falls asleep
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    Try putting your baby down for a short while; then try to awaken him or her

And of course, be vigilant of the symptoms that were mentioned. Also, remember that your doctor is helping to keep track of growth and development during regular well-baby checks. And if you have questions or concerns in between visits, then make contact immediately.

I hope this information was helpful. What do you think? Please feel free to reach out with any other ideas related to breastfeeding.

Sarah Palmer

Hi! I'm Sarah. My husband and I have a beautiful little girl; plus we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby #2, so this is a very exciting time for us. Throughout this amazing journey called Parenthood, I’ve learned so much and love sharing my experiences with other parents at SarahsLovelyFamily.com. I'd love to share my discoveries with you too!

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