So your baby wants to breastfeed constantly? Are you wondering if something is wrong?
Of course you are. Unfortunately our bodies don’t come with a gauge that measures breast milk excretion to keep our minds at ease. And I’m sure there’s not a breastfeeding mama in history who has never questioned whether her baby was getting enough milk.
Even me, who dealt with an oversupply for quite some time wondered, when my baby seemed to NE-VER be satisfied, what in the world was going on.
You might be thinking that your milk supply is low because your baby is literally latched to you all day long. But wait. In MANY cases, a constantly hungry breastfeeding baby is, well, completely and exasperatingly NORMAL.
Yes. Normal. So don’t throw in the towel just yet! Breastfeeding is absolutely, 100% exhausting and draining and worrying and painful (don’t believe the experts who say that it shouldn’t be) but it’s also freaking beautiful!
Let’s talk about what might be the cause of your baby’s insatiable appetite, shall we?
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Reasons Your Baby Wants To Breastfeed Constantly
There are three reasons that are legitimate problems that we will talk about first. But make sure that you continue to read, because there are 9 other reasons that are simply part of the normal process. Make sure to rule those out before determining that there is an actual problem.
1. Baby’s Latch Is Shallow
If you’re in severe pain (dealing with bleeding, cracking, etc) AND your baby is nursing constantly, you might have a latch issue. If your baby is not properly latched, he’s not extracting milk sufficiently.
Here is what you should look for in a good latch:
- You are not in extreme pain.
- Your baby’s chin is touching your breast.
- Most of your areola is in your baby’s mouth.
- Your baby’s lips are turned out.
Along with the above, watch out for the following signs that your baby’s latch is incorrect:
- Your baby is latching on to only your nipple.
- You do not hear or see your baby swallowing frequently.
- Your baby is making a clicking sound while breastfeeding.
You can do the following in order to encourage a good, deep latch:
- Get comfortable.
- Hold your baby’s back, not head.
- Wait for your baby to open wide or encourage him by tickling his lips with your nipple, gently pulling his chin down or stroking his cheek.
- Quickly move your baby toward you, not you toward your baby.
Read more details about the perfect breastfeeding latch.
2. Low Milk Supply
There are truly only two ways to know if you have a low milk supply according to Kelly Mom.
- By having your baby’s weight checked by the Pediatrician. Note that slow growth isn’t always a problem, although some Pediatricians might say that it is. If your baby is not gaining at all or is losing, then there is definitely a problem.
- By tracking your baby’s wet and dirty diapers.
Here’s what you should expect:
- Day 1- one wet diaper
- Day 2- two wet diapers
- Day 3-5- 3-5 wet diapers
- Day 6+- 6-8 wet diapers
If you would like to increase your milk supply, I highly recommend Pink Stork Lactation Tea. It’s delicious and super effective.
You can also read more tips about how to increase your milk supply.
3. Your Baby Is In Pain
Our third serious reason for incessant nursing is also the most uncommon. Some babies deal with something called MSPI (Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance). This means that your baby is having difficulty digesting the proteins found in the dairy products that you are consuming.
Both of my children had MSPI, and I have written a LOT about it here on the blog. If your baby is acting colicky, has blood in stool, is spitting up excessively, is fussy at the breast, has severe ezcema and/or is excessively gassy, he might have MSPI.
Sound familiar? Learn more about the 10 symptoms of MSPI.
4. Cluster Feeding
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the normal things that make your baby want to nurse 24 hours a day, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.
You see, there’s this little baby phenomenon called cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is basically the bane of every breastfeeding mother’s existence. It’s pretty awful.
My first child was a cluster feeding maniac. I found myself dealing with a newborn cluster feeding all night. Every evening, without fail, from 5pm to 9pm, she nursed. CONSTANTLY. She had to be latched for those four hours straight and if I tried to unlatch her, even when she inevitably drifted off to sleep, she would FREAK. OUT.
It was maddening. But after a while, I learned to accept it and make the best of it. I camped out in front of the TV and binged some Netflix.
After a few weeks, I also realized that my baby’s desire to cluster feed for hours right before bed was her way of getting enough milk to sleep through the night. By 6 weeks of age, she was sleeping 10+ hours straight at night. Those four hours on the couch at night weren’t so bad after all.
Wondering how to stop cluster feeding? If your baby is insisting on evening cluster feeding, just go with it. You might be pleasantly surprised by an awesome night’s sleep.
5. Comfort Nursing
Some babies simply love nursing. It’s cozy and familiar to be snuggled up to you, feeling your warmth, smelling your smell and hearing your heartbeat. With babies like this, anytime life outside of the womb gets overwhelming (which is likely to be every five seconds), they will want to nurse.
6. Growth Spurt
Is your baby nursing for an hour and still hungry? Is your baby feeding every hour and not sleeping?
Growth spurts in babies, especially when you’re breastfeeding, are another super frustrating occurrence. And just an FYI, MOST sources will tell you that a baby’s growth spurt will be over in a few days. In my experience? Both of my baby’s growth spurts lasted a week or more!
So when can you expect these growth spurts to occur? While they can literally happen at anytime, you should see something similar to this pattern:
- first few days at home
- around 7-10 days
- 2-3 weeks
- 4-6 weeks
- 3 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
7. Your Baby Has A Tiny Stomach
Obvious, right? But maybe something that we as sleep-deprived mamas overlook. Pair this with the fact that breastmilk is more quickly digested than formula, and you’ve got a great reason for your newborn to nurse all the time.
8. Your Baby Isn’t An Efficient Nurser Yet
It takes some time for your baby’s facial muscles to strengthen enough to drink quickly. For newborns, it’s not uncommon for a single nursing session to last 45 minutes. That means that you’ve got a little over an hour of respite before you tiny nurser is ready for more.
9. Your Baby Is Fighting Off A Sickness
Breastmilk is pretty amazing. If your baby is coming down with a cold, your breast milk will be busy behind the scenes loading up on antibodies to help fight off the germs that are invading your baby’s body. Increased nursing during this time means a greater chance that your baby won’t get sick, or will get less sick at least.
While some babies find breastfeeding while teething uncomfortable, others find it extremely comforting. You might notice that your baby nurses more when a tooth is popping through.
Let’s recap. Here are the 10 possible reasons that your baby wants to breastfeeding constantly.
- latch issues
- low milk supply
- your baby is in pain because of possible MSPI
- cluster feeding
- comfort nursing
- growth spurt
- baby has a tiny stomach
- baby isn’t yet an efficient nurser
- baby is fighting off a sickness
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