18 answers

10 Week Old Eating Frequently, Falling Asleep While Eating, Not Efficient

Hi, My 10 week old is quite inefficient at breastfeeding. It seems to be getting worse. I can't tell when he's really eating and when he's just comfort sucking--do any of you have tips to tell if they're really eating or not? I can never hear him swallowing. He is on the skinny side, but my doctor isn't worried. Lately, he falls asleep or just comfort sucks for the majority of the feeding time - and when I take him off because I think he's done, he'll cry, so I put him back on, but again he only does a few swallows and then either comfort sucks or falls asleep. I try very hard to keep him awake (cold wash cloth, rubbing him, tapping him, stroking his cheek, etc.). It usually takes about an hour to feed him, but I know he's not eating very much, it just takes that long because of all the breaks he takes, and he's just slow. Any tips to improve this? Also, how can I get him to have his long stretch of not eating later in the night? Right now he usually sleeps/doesn't eat from around 7pm-12am - how can I move this from 12-5am? Also, we went to a breastfeeding clinic today and he only ate 1 1/3 ounces in about 30 minutes (15 on each side). This is alarmingly low since he's supposed to have 27 ounces a day. When we give him a bottle of pumped breast milk, he takes anywhere between 4 and 5.5 ounces. Any suggestions?

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My first did the same thing...the Dr. also told me not to fret. As long as he's still having wet diapers and such, ya know he's getting what he needs. There were times I would just have him in his diaper as ai fed him which seemed to help some. I also used a blinky (which was a "lifesaver" or should I say "boobsaver") for his comfort sucking. Good Luck!!...hope it helps.

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To your first question, if he is really eating you will see his jaw muscles working all the way back to his ears - you'll probably even see his ears wiggling. It seems like you have already read about nursing a sleeping baby. I don't have any more tips. About wanting him to sleep well later in the night, I don't know if that's possible. My 13-month-old has always slept the longest right after going to sleep. I could only suggest putting him to bed later, as long as he's still taking a nap at 7 pm. I don't know anything about breastfeeding clinics like that, but maybe it's true that they eat less there. It would make sense that in a new place they would be even less efficient. The only other tip I have is that a La Leche meeting would be helpful. You would get input from several moms. One thing I've learned from listening to others at La Leche is that babies really do have different nursing personalities. I know another mom who had a baby who was also a very slow eater and would take 40 mins to an hour to eat each time.

Oh, I had a thought but I'm not sure if it applies to your situation. I thought you could just consider whether you think your foremilk/hindmilk is balanced. Both ways, your baby would be extra fussy. When my daughter started having short, frequent feedings (at the distracted age), she would only nurse on a single side each time she wanted it for 2 hours then I'd switch for another two hours. That was to make sure she was getting enough hindmilk.

Maybe you can check into a lactation consultant. My second daughter was on the "skinny side" (and at almost 3, still is), but the doctor is not concerned about her at all. One thing I noticed with all three of my kids (who all breastfed and one still is), is that when they were younger, they did fall asleep a lot while they were eating. Sometimes, I had a hard time telling whether they were eating or comfort-sucking because I couldn't hear them swallow, but then I could feel them swallow. As long as your precious little one is gaining weight, I wouldn't worry too much about it. A lactation consultant can figure out how much milk he is actually getting and help you with any concerns you may have. Finding some breastfeeding moms for support (and to share the cute stories that the kids do) is also wonderful. Keep it up- breastfeeding is such an enjoyable and irreplaceable experience. If you can do it, that's great :0)

Hello B., Congratulations on your newborn. I have four children and my first three were very easy when it came to nursing, but #4 wasn't so. I was totally against a pacifier with the kids, but changed my mind with this last one. She wanted to nurse every 1 1/2 hours 24/7 and it was killing me. You didn't say if your little guy was spitting up when he ate, that could be a problem. Try a pacifier when you quit nursing, if he crys, then he will have his comfort suck. Also, to move the bed time, try giving him a bath @ 9 or 10pm, then start your night time routine. Baths seem to wake my kids up for alittle while then the are ready to crash.

Good luck.

The way I can tell if mine is actually eating or just comfort sucking is if he's eating he is taking long pulls like he is sucking from a straw. If he's comfort nibbbling, his mouth clamps down in rapid succession about 4 or 5 times then he stops and waits a second and does it again. Maybe he'll just do better if you pump and give it to him in a bottle.

There is a really great lactation consultant at Bosom Buddies by the park meadows mall. She is sweet and helpful and can help ease your mind. If you are truly worried, go see her and figure out what is going on. It is nice to have a professional opinion and if you really want to breastfeed successfully and be happy with it, it would be in your best interest.

Remember, not all baby's eat the same or nurse the same, just like not all adults eat or nurse the same. Some of us hurry some of us take our time. Little people are no different some require more time and more patience. Enjoy it, before you know it this time will be over and you will miss it so much. Another great way for your baby to get close to you without nursing is wearing your baby in a sling, it was my lifesaver with my girls and I recommend it for my clients. Good luck. If you like, you can email me privately and we can chat some more.

Sarah M., CLD, PPD, LE, CBE

Maybe you just need to change to a bottle.

I have worked through several issues with BF- it is so worth working out the kinks!
Find a network of support!!
Work with a LC to get a plan on how to work towards your goal(s)
Suck training using your finger to develop a stronger latch/suck
Special suck training bottle ($$$$) SNS-is another option
Renting a scale to see how much was eaten to keep a long and see the increase of oz (I saw an increase every 2 or 3 days)
Pumping an extra feeding a day to offer as a supplemental oz or two with each feeding.
Mother's Milk herbs to increase your production

My LO was 3 weeks old would spend 30 min nursing then take an oz or oz and a quarter when a full feeding was an once iand a half. At about 7 weeks I was not needing to pump any more she was able to nurse great.
With getting yeast in the breast after being put on anti-botics the NP and my Dr both asked me if it was worth going through this to keep nursing-HELLO even if I stop today I still have to 'go through' this to clear it up and then try to avoid Mastitis for stopping nursing suddenly.
feel free to email me....

It looks like you have gotten some great advice, and some very bad advice on this question. The bad advice I am reffering to is limiting the time spent nursing or waiting to see if your baby is "really hungry" before you nurse him, both of those ideas are bad for the baby and for you. If you limit the ammount of time you nurse too much and wait between feedings too long then your milk supply will most certainly dwindle, and your baby will feel anxious and hungry and cry more often and not gain weight as well. When it comes to nursing, watch your baby, NOT the clock. I will echo previous advice to talk to a lactation educator or lactation consultant, or LLI, make sure that your baby is latching properly, that may help. I saw that using a sling has been suggested to you already, some moms like to nurse with the baby in the sling, as your little one gets a bit older maybe you can have him nursing in the sling while you are doing other things, the nice thing abou the sling is that it leaves your hands free. Good luck!


First off I suggest finding a Le Leche League group near you and start attending their meetings. Yes, it's true, there are SOME women who are considered "nipple nazis" but the vast majority are NOT like that and you'll get a LOT of good information and support.

Second, I would focus on you. Are you drinking the proper amount of WATER??? Notice as asked about WATER, not "fluids" in general. This is very, very important.

Are you eating enough high quality foods. Veggies, fruit, proteins, and supplements??

Are you allowing yourself to be a MOMMY more than the OLD ROLE you used to be before birth??? Putting too much stress on yourself, ends up putting stress on baby and others. Allow yourself time to rest with baby.

Third, check to see if he's able to use his tongue properly.

Forth, Mommy, GET A BABY CARRIER!! I do NOT suggest one of those back pack models, but rather a sling or wrap. Here's a wonderful site for you to look at: http://www.peppermint.com/comparison.html
She compares several different baby carriers. Babies like to be with Mommy, that's how they were created, and then suddenly they were driven out of their place of life and comfort and put into a place with strange sounds and sights without anything they're used to. So, to help with the comfort, wearing your baby will give your baby the contact he longs for, the feeling safety and security, allow you to do things, and reduce the comfort feedings.

Last, I highly suggest you work on one thing at a time. Your post asks several questions. I'd say find the answer to one before moving on to the next. Many times, one answer will solve many questions anyway.

I also want to mention, this isn't all about efficiency. We're not watering plants or training dogs to do tricks. Half of the benefit of nursing your child is the "nurturing" that should be going on along with the nutrition. It's the same with eating together as a family at the dinner table and having real conversations. (you can look up the studies on eating together--it's critical) Plus, there's significant benefits to Mommy, too, in forcing you not to do too much, compelling you to rest and heal--even this far out.

Mostly though, give yourself and your baby a break. You'll arrive at the summit soon! :o)

Maybe seeing a lactation consultant to check his latch or a feeding specialist to get some good tips might help. More food will also help him sleep better. I didn't check where you're at, but we have a great feeding specialist if you want to talk to her. She works with infants very well. GL! (I think kids tend to eat less at tests. Both my kids who we've checked have.)

My first did the same thing...the Dr. also told me not to fret. As long as he's still having wet diapers and such, ya know he's getting what he needs. There were times I would just have him in his diaper as ai fed him which seemed to help some. I also used a blinky (which was a "lifesaver" or should I say "boobsaver") for his comfort sucking. Good Luck!!...hope it helps.

It's so hard, and goes against my mother's intuition to put cold things on my baby to keep him awake! i have tried it, but in the end, I decided it wasn't worth it. It didn't really work that well, anyway.
I remember having similar trouble, especially when my first son was new. He hadn't regained his birth weigh at 2 weeks, so we were worried. And eating made him fall asleep every time.
How often are you trying to feed him? I had a friend who would put her baby on her breast every time she made as much as a whimper. She was nursing all the time! I don't know how she didn't get super sore. Make sure he's TRUly hungry before you latch him on. And to make sure that he's in earnest about actually eating, when you think he's hungry, try to calm him down and soothe him for about 15 minutes before you actually put him on. If he will calm down, maybe he wasn't really hungry after all. If he was hungry, he ought to be SO hungry by that time that he'll focus a little better on filling his tummy.
Didn't the breastfeeding clinic give you any helpful advice?

I remember being in tears with my twins over that same situation. As soon as they would start nursing they would fall asleep. I felt like I was going to be stuck on that sofa forever. Once I would take them off, they would wake up and start crying because they were hungry! Unlike my first kid, they never liked pacifiers, so I was the human binky.

One thing that at least go us over the hump was stripping them down to their onsie when I would nurse. That way, it was not as warm and comfy so they were less apt to fall asleep quickly. I would also tickle feet and try to make eye contact with them as much as possible. I had to supplement because I just did not produce enough milk. Don't give up on the nursing. I eventually got them to 11 months.

It was right about this age that I gave up nursing my first child; my other two I had more experience and nursed until a year old. I learned a few things.
At 10 weeks he's still tiny. Newborns can want to eat every 2 hours. And that's from beginning to beginning (so if you nurse for 1/2 hour then it may only be 1.5 till next one). So he's sounding normal. My kids often took an hour to eat, then wanted to eat an hour later at this age.

I would get rid of the bottles altogether. They are much easier to make flow than your nipples, and the flow is faster, so he's not working as hard. Then, when he gets you, he doesn't get much for that little effort and it can be frustrating. So for now, feed him every time he's hungry. Try to get him to drain one side before switching (so when he stops/falls asleep, take him off, burp him well and put him back on the same side) so he gets the fatty hind milk - good for the calories, satiety, brain development, and preventing colic. I wouldn't stress too much about the amount he ate at the clinic. There's a lot that can happen to affect how much he eats. And it's not exact (they weigh him before and after with no diaper changes, right?). As long as he's growing (even if he's on the 'skinny side' he could still be growing)and peeing and pooping enough you don't need to stress about numbers. (BTW, since I'm a mat-nerd <grin> I figured it out. 1 1/3 oz in a half hour means if he nurses for 10 hours during the day - not abnormal for this age I think - he'd be getting 27 oz.)

Set up a nursing area. For me it was a rocking chair with pockets where I kept a book, the tv remote, a cordless phone, and a water bottle. I could sit down, relax, let them take their time, and be able to do something else as well (I even did homework with one, since I was going to college at the time). True, you want to spend time focusing on your baby, cooing at him and such, but when you're nursing for a good portion of the day you need other things too.
Don't be afraid to lie down with him sometimes to nurse. Set him on his side facing you, and lie on your side. You can doze while he eats if you need to (just make sure there are no pillows or blankets near his head).

When babies are this tiny, they do 3 things: eat, sleep, and dirty their diapers. They can only cry to let you know they need one of these taken care of. Your #1 job right now is to let your life revolve around him. Don't worry about a perfectly clean house or fabulous dinners right now. There is very little time you have to sit and stare at him and just BE with him like you can now. (I know, my baby is 5 and I miss the baby stage - well, most of it).

a few cues. . . he should have a suck swallow pattern. yes, you should hear him swallow. his temples will be moving a little. also, counting dirty and wet diapers is a great way. this is a way to know he's getting enough and you don't have to worry, without getting wrapped up in "bottle ounces." which really just undermine your trust that your body is giving him enough. 6-8 we diapers/day. i would suggest getting in touch with your local la leche league. llli.org will lead you to a meeting or at least numbers for a leader in your area who you can talk with. excellent on nursing him for two months already. . . breastmilk is the superior food and you're giving him a wonderful start. hopefully with some support from other moms through la leche league you can get to the root of the trouble and both of you can feel more satisfied.

my daughter would only breastfeed for about 4 weeks. Some babies just prefer bottle nipples. At 9 months she toddled over and threw her bottle right in file 13!!! She also chose thumb over paci! My suggestion? Just pump and use bottles. You're still giving the breastmilk that he needs, just the way he prefers to take it in.

L. B
Married 13 yrs
Mother of 2

You may have a clogged milk duct. I went through the same thing with both of my kids. Get a hospital grade milk pump and see if that helps unclog it. Then see if he eats and is happier and faster. Hope this helps.

Early on in my Daughter's life (like the 2 week check in), I spoke with my Dr. about how long I should let her nurse since I had a similar concern and didn't want to be a human pacifier (she never did have a plastic one either). And he suggested I actually limit my nursing to around 10 minute a side (I actually used a kitchen timer) switch and then be done. He said that it would teach her to be efficient and focused. It seemed to work, but she was a clock baby, slept two hours almost to the minute, then nurse, then stay up for about an hour, then sleep 2 hours/repeat was her natural schedule.

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