Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience for both mother and baby. However, it can sometimes be surprising to see how your little one behaves while breastfeeding.
It can be difficult to determine whether a baby’s fussiness is due to hunger or something else.
All babies are different, and it can be tough to determine what’s normal and what isn’t. Is your baby fussy all the time? Crying for no reason? arching their back?
We’ve created a guide to help you understand the most common behaviors that babies exhibit while breastfeeding. By arming yourself with this knowledge, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy this special time with your little one. But remember, most of this behaviour is completely normal and many moms experience it!
What should I expect while breastfeeding?
Babies can exhibit a number of different behaviors while breastfeeding. Some common behaviors include:
- Crying for no reason
- Arching their back
- Gaining weight slowly or not at all
- Having trouble latching on or sucking properly
- Pinching, biting and kicking (oh yep..)
Each baby is unique and may exhibit different behaviors than those listed above. It’s important to remember that these behaviors are normal, and typically don’t indicate a problem.
What causes my baby to cry when breastfeeding?
There can be many reasons why a baby cries while breastfeeding. Some of the most common causes include:
- Discomfort or pain
- Gas and indigestion
- Fever or illness
- Self soothing
If your baby is crying for no apparent reason, it’s important to rule out hunger as the cause. Many babies will cry due to hunger even if they’ve just been fed.
How can I tell if my baby is hungry?
It can be difficult to determine whether your baby is hungry or not. However, there are a few signs that may indicate that your baby is ready to eat:
- They make sucking noises or movements
- They open their mouth
- They reach for your breast or try to grasp it
If your baby exhibits any of these signs, they may be ready to eat. If they’re crying and fussing, it’s best to try to feed them to see if that stops the tears.
Can my baby get too much milk while breastfeeding?
It’s rare for a baby to get too much milk while breastfeeding. Most babies will stop eating when they’re full, and won’t take in more milk than they need.
However, it is possible for a baby to overeat if they’re allowed to nurse for too long. If your baby seems overly satisfied or falls asleep after nursing, you may want to try limiting their feeding time.
Is it normal for my baby to have trouble latching on or sucking properly?
Babies can sometimes have trouble latching on or sucking properly while breastfeeding. This is usually due to a lack of experience or improper positioning. If your baby is having trouble, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider. They can offer tips and advice to help get your baby breastfeeding successfully.
Why does my baby wiggle so much while nursing?
A baby might be wiggling because they are distracted by their surroundings and breastfed babies want to see what’s going on. If you feel this is the cause in your feeding session try going to a quieter space where they won’t be overstimulated by their surroundings.
Help them to focus on the feeding. A nursing necklace is a great tool to help keep them interested in nursing and you can also try singing a lullaby or reading to them during the feeding.
Pinching, biting and kicking (oh yep..)
It’s not uncommon for babies to pinch, bite and kick while breastfeeding. This is usually a sign that they’re uncomfortable or bored. If your baby is doing any of these things, it’s best to try to switch up the position or end the nursing session.
Babies can sometimes be aggressive when breastfeeding due to hunger or discomfort. If your baby is constantly biting, chewing, or slapping at your breast, they may be trying to tell you something. Try adjusting their position or seek help from a lactation consultant if the problem persists.
Babies are constantly changing and evolving, so don’t be surprised if your baby exhibits new behaviors while breastfeeding. By being aware of what to expect, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy this special time with your little one.
Determining the problem of baby behavior while breastfeeding
It can be difficult to determine the cause of your baby’s behavior while breastfeeding. If they’re crying for no apparent reason, it’s best to rule out hunger as the root problem. Many babies will cry due to hunger even if they’ve just been fed.
Does baby need to burp?
If your baby is crying and you’re not sure why try to burp them. Burping can help relieve discomfort or gas buildup, which may be causing the tears. Most babies will need to burp after every few sucks, so keep an eye on their behavior to see if they seem gassy.
Are they in pain?
Babies can sometimes cry due to pain while breastfeeding. If your baby is arching their back, kicking their legs, or seems to be in pain, try adjusting their position or seek help from a lactation consultant.
Why Does My Baby Grab My Breasts When Nursing?
When extremely small newborn newborns are drowsy and must concentrate on latching and sucking, older babies fidget more while feeding. As your child grows in mobility and alertness, they may discover your other breast is within reach and desire something to do with their hands.
Science has proven that infants are designed to nurse using their hands! Squeezing the breast stimulates milk release, and using their hands teaches them how to latch properly. Squeezing the breast when breastfeeding is OK as long as your infant isn’t hurting you.
When the milk supply is low, the infant may bite and pull back, attempting to evacuate more milk from the breast. Resuming menstruation, pregnancy during nursing, hormonal birth control techniques, various drugs and supplements, and even stress can all have a detrimental impact on milk production.
Breast Milk Supply & Milk Flow
Both rapid milk flow and slow milk flow can cause issues in breasfed babies, particularly young babies. I had a very rapid flow and whilst my sons could cope, my daughter couldn’t and I had to express milk first before she could feed.
Low Milk Supply
If you’re struggling with a low milk supply, there are a few things you can do to increase your production. Try pumping after each breastfeeding session (read our power pumping guide to increase breast milk), drink plenty of fluids (particularly coconut water to help milk supply and oat milk to help increase your milk, and eat healthy foods. You may also want to consider taking supplements or using medications prescribed by your doctor.
Having a low milk supply is not a reason to stop breastfeeding and start bottle feeding. There are plenty of tips and tricks to increase your milk production. Most moms find that their milk supply increases over time. If you’re still struggling after a few weeks, consult with a lactation consultant for more help.
Is Slow Letdown Causing the Issues?
Some women experience a slow letdown when breastfeeding. This can cause milk to back up and the baby to become frustrated. If you’re experiencing a slow letdown, try using a breast pump to relieve the pressure. You may also want to seek help from a lactation consultant. They can offer tips and advice to help improve your flow rate.
Rapid Flow Issues
If you have a heavy letdown and the milk flow is excessive, very young newborns may stir and wriggle. Similarly, if your breasts are engorged, your baby may have difficulty latching. In frustration, they may move around.
If your baby is having difficulty breastfeeding and you think the rapid milk flow is causing the issues, try using a breast pump to relieve some of the pressure.
Why Does Baby Pull their hair out when Nursing
While nursing, some newborns will gently grab at the hair on the back or sides of their heads to soothe themselves. If your child is teething, they may combine hair twirling with biting to alleviate pain in their gums.
Babies love skin to skin contact and often baby touches your face and skin while nursing. This is a way to explore and learn about their surroundings.
Why Does Baby Make Grunting Noises out when Nursing
The grunting of a newborn is mainly connected to digestion. Your infant is merely acclimating to breast milk or formula. They may have gas or pressure in their stomach, which causes discomfort, and they haven’t yet learned how to pass things through. This will eventually stop.
Your baby might have a stuffy nose and as a new mom , you might mistake this noise as a cry. If your infant is making these noises, gently clear their nose with a tissue or cloth.
One common behavior that can surprise new moms is when their baby starts pulling their hair out while breastfeeding. This is usually a sign that they are teething and the discomfort is causing them to seek relief. Newborns may also grunt and make other noises while breastfeeding as they adjust to the new taste and texture of breast milk or formula.
Many new moms worry in the early weeks about baby’s bowel movements, but unless the baby is projectile vomiting or has blood in their stool, don’t worry. Formula fed babies tend to have firmer stools than breastfed babies, so if your infant is exclusively formula feeding and you’re seeing changes in their bowel movements, that’s normal.
Why does my baby kick and squirm while breastfeeding?
Babies can often kick and squirm while breastfeeding due to discomfort or pain. If your baby is fussy, arching their back, or kicking their legs, they may be in pain. Try adjusting their position or using a breast pad to see if that helps.
If you have an older child kicking and biting then stop nursing, and explain to them their behaviour is unacceptable. You can offer to continue nursing if they exhibit better behaviour. It might help to go to a quiet place so they can focus on nursing.
Low Down On Baby Behaviour When They Breastfeed
Babies are constantly exploring their world and during breastfeeding, they will use all of their senses to learn about what’s going on. This includes tasting the food, feeling the textures, hearing mommy and daddy talk, and smelling everything. So, don’t be surprised if your little one is constantly looking around while nursing and exhibiting new behavior.
If you’re still having trouble figuring out what’s going on with your baby during breastfeeding, consult with a lactation consultant for more help. They can offer tips and advice to improve the situation. And remember, it takes time for both you and your baby to get used to the process.
Don’t be discouraged – keep going! You’re doing a great job!