Has your baby been crying while nursing or sometimes even pulling away from your breast? Fussiness while breastfeeding is quite common behavior for babies, most especially for newborns, and there are a number of possible reasons behind it. One possibility may be your baby feels overwhelmed by their surroundings, which causes a bit of discomfort, or another possibility is a fast flow of milk, which makes it challenging for babies to keep up and coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing. There are other common causes, but there is no need to let the fussiness get to your head, Mom! There are simple solutions, such as basic soothing techniques, which can encourage your baby to relax. To help ease fussy behavior, let’s look into some of the ways you can calm your baby while breastfeeding. Remember that like all other suggestions that are made to guide parents, your patience and perseverance is the key to figuring out what works best for you and your baby.
Fussiness can ensue because your baby is overwhelmed by his or her surroundings, other people, or the noise. Babies might find it difficult to adapt to a loud and bright environment, especially after being inside the womb. You can try dimming the lights in the room, closing the curtains, and playing some soft music or “white noise” in the background to make the surrounding space more comfortable for your baby. Sometimes cradling your baby or rocking him or her back and forth also helps.
Babies nurse more comfortably when they are properly latched. Try other breastfeeding positions and see which one makes it easier for your baby to latch. There are also times when it would be good to switch sides, because the flow of milk on the other breast is more manageable for your baby. In some cases, breasts can have too much milk and lead to a faster let down, which causes babies to swallow more rapidly, cough, and pull-away from the breast while nursing. You can try offering the other breast to see if the flow is more comfortable for your baby, or you can also try leaning back to a reclining position.
Skin-on-skin contact will help your baby feel that they are in a warm and safe space. Babies love physical contact and the warmth of your skin will definitely satisfy their need for closeness. It will also help stimulate instinctive feeding behaviors and effectively calm a fussy baby before breastfeeding.
Sometimes fussing may be your baby’s way to communicate that they need to burp or that they’re already full. Try to burp your baby after feeding or before switching to the other breast. You can also try burping your baby more frequently, in between feedings, to help avoid too much spit up or vomiting. Burping frequently is also a good solution if ever your baby is experiencing difficulty with a faster let down of milk.
Breastfeeding is truly a personal journey and it may involve some trial and error along the way. With time and practice, you and your baby will be able to settle into a comfortable rhythm. Even if you experience some fussy behavior, remember that it is normal and that you will always be able to find a way to soothe your baby because you know them best! If you’re looking for more tips, you can read more Breastfeeding articles on our website to help you out.
Wisner, Wendy. 7 Breastfeeding Tips for Fussy-at-the-Breast Babies. February 2019.
Bonyata, Kelly. My baby fusses or cries when breastfeeding – what’s the problem?. January 2018.
Pearson-Glaze, Philippa. The Fussy Breastfed Baby. March 2021.