Some problems may make it difficult to keep a baby awake while trying to breastfeed.
If you are worried about the amount of milk your baby is receiving, please read:
Things that may Cause Extra Sleepiness in a Baby
- Any drugs given to the mother during labour especially during a C-section
birth. The drugs pass into the baby’s system while in utero.
- Invasive procedures during and after birth such as injections, circumcision, heel sticks, aggressive suctioning, etc.
- The baby was born prematurely.
- Jaundice causes lethargy. The phototherapy treatment that is given to treat jaundice can cause extra grogginess in a baby.
- The mother and/or her baby are ill or have health problems.
- The baby is not taking in enough milk due to feeding problems or low milk
supply. This can cause a baby to become weak and therefore sleepy.
- The baby is in an overstimulated environment.
- Separation of the mother and her baby after birth, can cause prolonged crying and fatigue.
Signs that your Baby is Unusually Sleepy
- The baby does not wake up often enough for feeds. The baby is also not woken up easily.
- The baby falls asleep very soon after latching on.
- The baby has low urine output, less bowel movements than expected and is gaining weight very slowly or not at all.
- The mother may become engorged due to her baby not removing enough milk from the breasts.
- If the baby sleeps with his/her eyes tightly shut, with a tense facial expression and is flushed or pale in the face, it could indicate that baby is overstimulated.
Sleepy Baby Tips
- Try to feed your baby in a quiet, dim lit room, that is in a calm environment.
- Breastfeed on demand. Feed your baby as often as possible. Stay as close to your baby as possible, consider using a baby sling for breastfeeding and closeness. Babies who are held close to their mothers, breastfeed more often.
- Recognise and know different feeding ques.
- Skin to skin contact is great for bonding and will help the mother recognize feeding cues earlier.
You can Encourage Alertness in your Baby by:
- Lots of skin to skin contact will encourage your baby to breastfeed more often. Kangaroo care is recommended.
- Talking to your baby.
- Putting your baby’s hand to his/her mouth.
- Tickling or touching your baby’s hands or feet.
- Rubbing your baby’s face.
- Allowing your baby to smell a used nursing pad.
- Holding your baby in an upright position.
- Use an upright breastfeeding position.
- Taking your baby out of a swaddle wrap.
- Changing your baby’s diaper.
- Use breast compressions while breastfeeding, to help the flow of milk. This will also help your baby get in more of the fattier hind-milk during a feed.
- Move the breast a little in your baby’s mouth to get baby sucking again.
- Wipe your baby’s face with a cool face cloth.
- Put some breast milk in a syringe or eye dropper before breastfeeding. When your baby latches on, drop some of the milk into the corner of baby’s mouth.
Things to Avoid
Top of sleepy baby page
- Bright lights.
- Avoid swaddling.
- Avoid the use of pacifiers.
- Avoid rocking.
- Avoid warm room temperatures.
- Avoid supplements.
Other pages on breastfeeding problems connected to this page
Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)
Reference: Breastfeeding councillor
course information through childbirthinternational.com on breastfeeding
problems / physiology of breastfeeding / latching problems / sleepy
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