Many babies fall asleep while being breastfed, especially in the first year of life. Some of them continue this ritual even after the age of 1, if the mothers allow it. If you and your baby have this routine, there is no reason to give it up. Apart from the fact that this creates a strong mother-child connection, breastfeeding provides the child with vital nutrients and hormones that will help him sleep peacefully.

baby sleep photo

Why does the baby fall asleep when you breastfeed?

Sucking can be tiring for a small baby's cheekbones. This happens especially to newborns, because they get used to this way of obtaining nutrients.

Breastfeeding releases the hormone cholecystokinin in children, which induces the feeling of sleep. Then, milk also contains other substances that induce sleep, substances that can help babies develop their own circadian rhythm. Newborns are more likely to fall asleep while breastfeeding compared to older babies, because they need more hours of sleep a day.

Finally, after they are weaned, the babies will no longer fall asleep at the breast. This is where a good sleep routine comes into play. By establishing such a routine, the baby will learn different relaxation and sleep techniques. This differs from one child to another. Therefore, a separate routine must be established in each family.

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What happens if the baby falls asleep at the breast?

The sleep-inducing hormones that are produced by breast milk are more intense during the evening and this, naturally, makes babies sleep more easily. Breastfeeding also makes them feel a greater warmth, to feel safe, loved and protected. Breastfeeding can help babies develop their own circadian rhythm, which will be helpful when they learn to sleep on their own.

On the other hand, if the baby only falls asleep at the breast, he will not learn to soothe himself and fall asleep easily by himself. The breast will become a self-soothing substitute, and the baby may cling more and more to breastfeeding. Also, weaning will be more difficult. Specialists recommend placing the baby in the crib before he falls asleep completely.

detail baby sleeping smoothly

What happens if your baby keeps falling asleep while breastfeeding?

What can you do in this situation? If you feel that the baby is falling asleep, but he has not fed enough, you can try to gently tickle his cheek or massage his feet or nose. This should wake him up easily. You can also talk to him while nursing him. If it is daytime, make sure the room is well lit. If you are worried that she is not feeding enough because she falls asleep at the breast, you can try feeding with a bottle to see exactly how much milk she consumes before falling asleep.

If you think that your baby becomes suspiciously sleepy every time you breastfeed him, we recommend you talk to your pediatrician, because in some cases it may be a disease, such as jaundice.

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When should you worry?

If the baby falls asleep too often and too quickly when you breastfeed him, this can also happen because he is not getting enough milk. Here are some signs that show that the milk is not flowing enough for the baby:

  • while sucking, the baby makes a strange sound like a rattle. Most likely, the milk is not flowing enough.
  • the breastfeeding rate remains the same. Normally, the baby will slow down and swallow after each suck.
  • if the baby seems tense (his fist is clenched and his eyebrows are tense) while he sleeps, he might still be hungry.

baby in crib

It is important for every parent to find an easy and quick way to put their baby to sleep. However, proper nutrition is critical. Talk to the pediatrician if you suspect that the baby is not feeding enough and falls asleep too easily at the breast.

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