By Katie Hilton
Katie Hilton is a dual qualified nurse, midwife and health visitor and the expert adviser for MAM UK. She is also a mu’ma herself to one cheeky little man. Here she explains how to keep baby awake while breastfeeding.
Dozing At Dinner Time
While feeding our little ones can be comforting for them, they can doze off before they have taken in a full feed. Breastfeeding is naturally sleep inducing and it offers an easy and effective way for Mums to put their babies to sleep. Especially in those first few weeks with a newborn as they tend to be extra sleepy and may not take in a full feed. There is a hormone released while breastfeeding called Cholecystokinin that naturally makes your baby feel full and drowsy during and following a feed.
If you find it difficult to keep baby awake while feeding, try some of these tricks to keep them interested and active when feeding. This will help ensure they are taking an effective feed so they will stay full longer and hopefully sleep longer stretches for you. If your little one dozes off soon after feeding they will not take in an effective feed, which can make it feel like your baby feeds constantly around the clock and is not getting long stretches of sleep, this can also impact on their weight gain.
Tips to keep baby awake:
- Unwrap your baby from their blanket or swaddle.
- Undress your baby if they are warm or change their nappy; as this helps wake babies up.
- Put baby skin to skin before feeding. You may also want to feed them soon after they wake up from a sleep.
- Massage your baby’s scalp in a circular motion at the crown of their head.
- Use a lukewarm wet washcloth to wipe their face and hairline.
- Try stroking the palm of your baby’s hands or the soles of their feet. You can also try stroking your baby’s cheek with your finger while feeding.
- Gently blow air on your baby’s cheek or forehead.
- Change feeding positions if you find your baby becomes sleepy snuggled in one position. Usually babies are more cuddled in when you use the cross-cradle position. Experiment with using the football hold where you can see your baby’s face.
- Try switching breasts if your baby has lost interest after they have finished actively feeding off one side.
- Try some breast compressions for at least 6 seconds. If your baby is taking long pauses while feeding or they start to “flutter suck” then encourage your baby to take big sucks and swallow using some breast compression.
- Try to decrease the amount of stimulation like noises and light in the area you are feeding your baby. You can also talk, sing and make sounds that will catch your babies attention.