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  • Writer's pictureAshleigh Richmond

Nursing Your Sleepy Newborn

Updated: May 2, 2023

Newborns are notoriously sleepy eaters. This can be made even more profound when baby has jaundice or is born a bit early. Use these tips to keep your baby awake during feedings.

Mother breastfeeding her baby

Baby taking a snooze as soon as she latches? Here is some help!

Until your baby reaches their birth weight and is gaining well it is important to make sure you wake them every 2-3 hours for feedings. This is easier said than done with some babies. Keep in mind that babies need milk flow to stay active. You will need to help keep the flow going until your baby gets more efficient. I promise they won't be this sleepy forever!

Here are some things to try:

• Wake your baby 2 hours after the end of their last feeding. It's easier to time it this way vs. trying to time the entire feeding plus the time afterwards. This method usually ensures that your baby is eating every 2.5-3 hours because the feeding itself will probably take about 40 minutes to an hour.

•If your baby has clothes on take them off! Feed your baby in just their diaper.

• Massage your breasts and hand express to get your milk flowing for your baby before latching.

• Start by putting your baby skin to skin and wait for your baby to show feeding cues.

• Sleepy newborns latch better if you keep them in full body contact with you. They run on reflexes and if those reflexes aren't triggered then it's hard for them to latch. From skin to skin position, slide your baby down to your nipple keeping that full body contact. Leaning back while doing this can help.

• Your baby will start sucking quickly in the beginning of the feeding. When they start slowing their sucking patterns and their chin is no longer dropping low and pausing to swallow begin using breast compression. This is one of the best kept breastfeeding secrets! Here's how you do it: If your baby is sleepy and only doing flutter sucks, but not swallowing - hold your breast by using a C-shape hand position and when they start sucking, gently squeeze close to your chest wall. Hold the pressure until your baby stops sucking. This pressure will push milk down to your baby to ensure that they keep actively feeding.

• Laying your baby flat or changing their diaper is also a helpful way to wake them for feedings or when you are switching breasts.

The goal is to get milk flowing and keeping it flowing for them so they stay actively sucking and swallowing.

Need more help? Book a visit with Wisco Lactation! We offer home & office visit in SE Wisconsin and NE Illinois. We also offer virtual visits worldwide.


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