Tips and Tricks to Breastfeed a Sleepy Baby

Learn how to wake up and breastfeed your sleepy newborn

Most newborns will need to nurse around every 2-3 hours, that means your baby will need to be fed up to 8 and more times per day or within 24 hours. This is to ensure that your baby is getting enough milk to facilitate weight gain, and also to stimulate your milk production.

In some instances your baby will be able to wake themselves up for their next feed, however in some cases you will have to encourage them to wake up from their slumber, to make sure that they are fed. This is especially so if a newborn has slept for over 4 hours. However, the thought of waking up your sleepy baby, especially your newborn to breastfeed may not be so comforting and is a struggle for many moms.

In this article you’ll find a few tips to make breastfeeding your sleepy baby a lot easier, and different ways to help them stay awake while feeding. 


1:  Gently tap at the chin

So one of the first things you want to do to wake up your baby while breastfeeding, is to gently tap on their chin. This is to help them not fall asleep while feeding.


2:  Lightly tickle, move and play with their feet and hands

Playing and tickling their hands, feet, toes and fingers is another method you can use to help keep your baby awake, and coax them from their sleepy state until movement is visible.


3:  Lightly blow at their face

You can also blow gently on your baby’s face, this is a very common trick that many parents use to help get their baby to stop crying, hence it brings the baby to an awareness state.


4:  Gently tap and stroke the chin area

Once again, gently use your fingers to tap their chin and the surrounding areas to help keep your baby awake if they are latched on and still not sucking.


5:  Unbutton or remove clothing

This is to take away some of the warmth and snuggle that their clothes provide, however do not keep your baby undressed for too long, especially in a cold room. If your baby is wearing mittens remove or open them.


6:  Gently tap and tickle their neck and chest

Any form of touching should help to get your baby to a place of awareness, so you want to touch and tickle at their neck and chest. The aim is to be very gentle when trying to get your sleepy baby to feed, at no point do you want to frighten your baby out of sleep.


7:  Stroke and tap at ear

Gently tap and perform circular motions with your finger around their ear. Sometimes your baby will be in a light sleep cycle which makes waking them up much easier, however at other times you will have to do a combination of methods to keep them awake.


8:  Stroke and tap at chin until baby’s mouth moves

If your baby is latched on but not feeding, stroke and tap at their chin until their mouth begins to move and he or she is once again sucking.


9:  Adjust baby

Try adjusting your baby and move them a bit to disrupt their sleep.


10:  Breast compressions

You also want to ensure that you are massaging, shaking and gently squeezing your breast to stimulate the flow of milk.


11:  Burp your baby

Try taking your baby off of your breast, bring the baby to an upright position and burp them. This is also part of the process of waking them up as you are gently but firmly rubbing and patting their back.


12:  Rotate your breasts

Rotating your breasts is also another method to help get your sleepy baby to feed, even if you did not empty the breast you started out with. This method also helps your breasts to produce the same amount of milk. Your baby will also give you clues to switch when they become uninterested in that breast.


13:  Gently tap and tickle ribs

Once you’ve burped and rotated your breast, to keep your baby awake gently tap and tickle at their rib area.

So there you go, a few tips and tricks that you can also use to help breastfeed your sleepy baby. If one method doesn’t work, you can always use a combination of methods or find out what works best for you and your baby. Some babies you may have to change a diaper or use a wet washcloth to gently wipe them down, it’s all a learning process and what may work some newborns may not be as effective enough for others.

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