One of the most natural things in the world is how easily your baby falls asleep when they're breastfeeding. Who could blame them, right? But if your baby falls asleep and stops feeding before they should, you may be concerned and worried about their milk intake. So which breastfeeding positions keep your baby from falling asleep?
I know it seems counterproductive to keep a baby awake, but according to The Baby Sleep Site, some moms may need to keep their baby awake so they can have a full tummy. Otherwise, it could lead your little one to nurse constantly throughout the day and night, without any long stretches of sleep. The website also noted that some mothers may want their babies to disassociate nursing with sleeping so their baby doesn’t become dependent on the breast to fall asleep.
That being said, there isn't any fool-proof solution to keeping your baby awake. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Rachel O'Brien tells Romper that there aren't any positions that can prevent your baby from falling asleep, because breastfeeding requires hard work and energy, which makes babies sleepy. "The best way to keep them awake at the breast is by doing breast compressions when your baby's sucks start to slow down, giving your baby a mouthful of milk, which will make baby swallow and actively eat again," suggests O'Brien.
IBCLC Angie Natero tells Romper, that while she isn't sure positioning will make a difference, trying skin-to-skin, instead of warm, cozy clothes or blankets can potentially help, too.
Still want to try a new position? According to IBCLC Tera Hamann, "The biological, or 'laid back' position may help with a sleepy baby." But she tells Romper that you have to keep in mind that babies sleep a lot, and in most cases, they won't starve themselves.
While there are no exact position guaranteed to keep your baby awake, there are a few things you can do to make your baby's sleep a little less comfy. Kelly Mom suggested avoiding the more cuddly positions, like the cradle hold, and instead use the clutch or football hold. The cozy, warm feeling your baby feels when they are close to your body in a cradle hold will relax them and make them sleepy, so bypassing that cozy position is key.
To position your baby in the clutch or football hold, explained La Leche League International, you should support your baby’s head in your hand while sitting in a comfortable position, preferably on a chair, while your baby’s back is supported by your arm. Your baby should be facing your nipple, the website further explained, and their legs and feet should be tucked under your arm along the side of your back. You can also use pillows to prop your baby to the correct height needed to nurse.
Along with changing your breastfeeding position, there are other things you can do to keep your baby awake while nursing. The website for Dr. Sears suggested switching breasts or burping your baby every few minutes, rubbing your baby’s face gently with a cool washcloth, undressing your baby so the cool air keeps them awake, or even propping them upright while talking to them so that they stay interested and continue actively sucking.
The sleepy phase for babies doesn’t last forever. Soon enough you’ll find them becoming actively alert while nursing, maybe even hopping on and off your breast to play. Until then, keeping them engaged and not so comfortable will help keep the sleepiness at bay.