Breastfeeding isn’t always an easy task, especially when you can’t quite put your finger on your baby’s nursing behavior. Why isn’t he/she latching on? What does it mean when he/she moves her mouth like that? Why won’t they just eat already?
There can be a lot going on when you breastfeed. So, it’s a good thing Dr. Edith Jackson from Yale University narrowed down five of the most common breastfeeding types and how to handle them. Big thanks as well to child psychologist David Elkind for making this study more readily available to breastfeeding moms today through his book “Parenting On the Go: Birth to Six, A to Z”! Find out which kind of breastfeeder your baby is below!
These babies know exactly what they want and can eat like there’s no tomorrow. Latching on for ten to 20 minutes at a time, Barracuda babies grab on pretty tightly and nurse quickly. While it’s always great to see your little ones eating and getting strong, this kind of vigorous nursing may cause you pain and bruising. So, make sure to get your baby in a comfortable latch within two to three suckles or the first minute of feeding. Don’t be afraid to switch positions every now and then to look for the latch that’s most comfortable for you! Your baby may be really hungry, but carefully taking little breaks and testing out different positions can help your baby practice latching properly and can save you from some discomfort.
Although they go into a feeding frenzy as soon as they see you’re ready with their next meal, these eager newborns have a level of excitement that can quickly become difficult to control. So they easily lose their latch, get frustrated, and start screaming and crying. Your baby’s wild and panicky gulps could also cause them to swallow a lot of air and leave your milk spraying. The best thing to do with Excited Ineffectives is to anticipate when they get hungry. Watch out for when they’re just waking up, moving their mouth, sucking their hands, or rooting. Then make their comfort your priority! Babies with this nursing personality need to be in a calm environment. So, be sure to bust out some slow rocking movements, skin-to-skin contact, and burping!
Don’t let these dilly-dalliers fool you! They may sleep a lot, take quick sucks, and show fewer signs of hunger, but Procrastinators need extra attention so that you can be sure they’re getting enough nutrition. These babies need to be at your breast every other hour or at least eight to 12 times a day so they get the chance to put some practice in. You can also check whether your babies are eating enough by taking a look at their nappies and their weight. Dr. Jane Morton from Stanford University says, “A reliable sign of a well-breastfed baby is a bright-yellow, seedy bowel movement by day five.” And, while all babies lose a few pounds early on, they should be back at their birth weight in around ten days.
This type of breastfeeder likes to play around with your nipple for a few taste tests before getting to the main course. There’s no rushing a good meal, so let the Gourmets take their time before digging in. It may take a while, but they’re actually encouraging milk production this way as well! Once these babies get a good latch going and are cheerfully smacking their lips, make sure you’re comfortable and settled in. Turn up the TV, grab a good book, and maybe have a snack for yourself while you’re at it. Your baby is happy and relaxed, so you should be too!
These little ones like to get comfortable, often taking long breaks and naps after breastfeeding for a few minutes. Then, they’re back up to start nursing again. With these frequent but short feeding sessions, Resters are hungry all the time. But, you definitely don’t want to rush your cozy baby and risk crankiness and stress for you both. Instead, try to keep these newborns alert by undressing them, gently nudging them awake, or squeezing milk into their mouths to remind them it’s time to eat. Switching to whichever breast feels fuller can also help you ensure that your baby is getting enough nutrition.
It’s important to remember that every baby is different, growing, and changing. Your baby could go from one breastfeeding personality to the next or show a whole new range of nursing traits as well, before they get the hang of it. Still, what matters most is that you understand what your baby needs from you and what suits you both. After all, these one-on-one moments are great for getting to know your babies and for learning to be the best mom for them.
- Elkind, David. Parenting on the Go: Birth to Six, A to Z. U.K.: Hachette Book Group, 2014.
- Murkoff, Heidi. “Newborn Nursing Personality” WhatToExpect.com. November 11, 2018.
- Onderko, Patty. “What’s Your Baby’s Nursing Style?” Parenting. 2019.
- “What Newborn Nursing Personality Is Your Infant?” Your Infant Resource. 2011.