Baby Falling Asleep While Nursing, Is It OK?

baby falling asleep nursing beach mum and baby

When you have a big meal and you’re fully satisfied, you might want to take a nap. A full stomach triggers the release of hormones in the body that make you feel drowsy. 

This is no different for newborns and babies who have full and happy bellies. Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding with formula or expressed milk, your baby loves a comfortable cuddle in your arms.

It’s not good for your little one to fall asleep before they have a full belly, however. If your baby is falling asleep while nursing, they aren’t going to get enough milk, which means they might not get all the nutrients they need.

Waking Your Baby Up To Nurse

If your baby can’t stay awake for at least 15 minutes to nurse properly, you might need to try a few things to get them to wake up.

You could startle or even hurt your baby if you quickly pull them off your breast. Instead, you should very gently wake your little one, so you can continue with feeding time.

If your baby is still latched on, try releasing the suction on your breast with a finger in the side of their mouths and then switch sides. While switching sides, try stimulating your baby a little to wake them up. 

You can accomplish this in a few ways. You can tickle your baby, hold them up, and talk to them for a few minutes. You could even try a quick burp session.

Gently rub your baby’s back or give them some pats on the back to stimulate their nervous system and wake them up. Alternatively, you can rub their sweet little face to keep them stimulated while nursing. 

Start talking to your baby to get their attention and wake them up.

Keep a cool, damp cloth nearby when nursing. If your baby nods off while feeding, wipe their face. The coolness of the cloth should wake them up gently to eat some more.

When your baby falls asleep, they will no longer suckle. Their nervous system stops this so that your baby won’t gag or choke on your breast milk. Unless your breasts are leaking, no milk will be flowing from your breast either. 

Why Is My Baby Falling Asleep When Nursing?

There are a couple of reasons your baby might take a snooze in the middle of feeding time.

A common reason is that your baby has lost interest in eating. This can often be caused by the baby having a poor latch on the breast. 

If your baby has latched poorly, the milk will not be flowing well. This means your baby won’t get enough milk, which will make them bored or tired.

To determine if your baby has a shallow latch, listen to see if they make clicking sounds as they eat. If you hear this, simply break the baby’s suction from your breast and help them latch on again.

Preventing Your Baby From Falling Asleep While Nursing

To keep your baby awake for nursing, you’ll need to take some preventative steps. Doing these simple things can make sure your little one stays awake long enough to eat.

Ensure you’re upright while nursing. Though it might be more comfortable, try not to nurse your baby lying down. If your baby feels too relaxed, they will quickly fall asleep—exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

Be sure the room you’re nursing in is well lit. If there’s ample light, your baby is much more likely to stay awake through feeding time.

Get your baby on a schedule so that there are defined times for eating and sleeping. This doesn’t have to be a rigid minute-by-minute schedule, but it will ensure there’s a skeleton routine in place, so your baby learns to expect that a bath followed by storytime means it’s almost time to sleep.

Once your baby is old enough (usually around one month), you could consider giving them a dummy. Don’t do this until you’ve established a routine with feeding time, or you might confuse your little one. Dummies can help to soothe your baby to sleep. Since they feel very different from your breast, your baby is less likely to rely on nursing to sleep.

If your baby has already fallen into the habit of sleeping every time they eat, you need to break this habit.

Once you are finished up with eating time, promptly unlatch your baby and burp them. Don’t let your little one fall asleep while nursing or they will come to associate feeding time with sleeping time.



Kids, chai latte's, blueberry muffins, and reading way too many books... That pretty much sums up Louise. She's also passionate about giving back to the community, in this case through this site, finding and answering questions about parenting.
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