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:
Things that may Cause Extra Sleepiness in a Baby
Any drugs that are given to the mother during labor 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, fewer 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 the 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 cues.
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.
Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)
Reference: Breastfeeding councilor course information through childbirthinternational.com on breastfeeding
problems / physiology of breastfeeding / latching problems / sleepy