Baby Crying While Breastfeeding – Causes and Solutions

Baby crying while breastfeeding

Breast milk is one of the best sources of nutrition for babies. Breastfeeding not only helps you to provide nourishment to your baby, but it is one of the best ways to bond with your little one. However, sometimes this pleasant and comforting experience may become a nightmare for a feeding mother to see her baby crying at the breast. This may happen when she sees her baby going into fits of wails during or after the breastfeeding sessions. Here, in the following article, we shall discuss various causes of a baby crying while nursing and the solutions for the same.

Finding the Problem

The following clues may help you to reach the conclusion of breastfeeding problems baby crying:

1. How Old is Your Baby?

The crying and fussiness may be due to the growth spurts. Many infants and babies may go through the growth spurts at different intervals. Where in some babies it may start as early as within seven to ten days after birth, it can also be seen in babies who are two-three weeks, four-six weeks, three months, four months or six months old, etc.

2. Is Baby Distracted by New Things?

Babies grow rapidly, and this may lead to many behavioural changes. They may get distracted by their newly acquired skills that may affect their nursing pattern or behaviour temporarily. The changes may involve fussy breastfeeding sessions or more frequent nursing sessions than usual.

3. When is Your Baby Crying?

To establish the actual cause of crying you may have to pay heed to both the feeding sessions and the time of the day.

If your baby seems to be fussy during the feeding sessions, it may because of the excess or slow flow of the milk. Crying after the feeding sessions may indicate that the baby wants to burp.

Baby crying while feeding

If you notice your baby fussing more during the morning time, this may indicate the excess milk flow that the baby is unable to handle. The evening fussing may be due to the mother’s diet or what food she has had during the day. You can try eliminating a particular food item that you suspect is troubling your baby.

4. Does Crying Occur When Fed from One Breast or Both?

If your baby is crying while being fed from one particular side of the breast, this may indicate that there is abundant milk supply or a faster let down of milk from that breast.

5. Is There Something Else Going on with the Baby?

Apart from the above-mentioned problems, there can be various other issues that may make your baby fuss during the feeding sessions. It could be due to some kind of illness, teething, trying solid foods etc.

If your baby is exhibiting fussy nursing behaviour, this could be due to either of the following mentioned problems. The important thing that you need to remember is that sometimes it could be a combination of two or more problems. Babies cannot speak; therefore, it becomes very important for the parents to assess the symptoms and figure out the root cause/

Reasons Why Your Baby Crying during Breastfeeding

Here we have narrowed down some reasons that may cause your baby to fuss during the feeding sessions:

  • The Flow of the Milk: The most common reason that may make your baby fuss while breastfeeding is the flow of the milk. Both the faster or slower flow may irritate your baby and make him fuss. If you notice your baby cough or gaggle soon after you begin breastfeeding, this means you may be having an over-reactive let-down. On the other hand, if immediately after you begin feeding, your baby pulls off, arches his back and kneads against your breast, this means you have a slower let-down. You may try breast compression to ease the flow.
  • Your Baby Needs to Pass Wind: The crying or fussing amidst the feeding sessions may indicate your baby’s urge to burp or pass gas. While shifting your baby from one breast to the other, you may take your baby to your shoulder and gently rub his back. However, once your baby is four months or older, he may burp on his own. You may even try changing his nappy so that your baby can expel and trapped gas.
  • Your Baby Feels Distracted: Babies, at around three months or older, become quite aware of their surroundings and may feel easily distracted by their environment. If, during a feeding session, your baby hears a loud noise from the other room, he may become curious, and your efforts to get him back to the breast may irritate him further.
  • Your Baby is Teething: Some babies cry and fuss more than other babies when they are teething. This happens because their gums get sore and sucking may cause pain and discomfort.

Teething baby

  • Your Baby is Stressed: Babies are very sensitive and can sense if their mother or caregivers are tensed. This may lead to stress in babies, and may lead to crying and fussing during the feeding sessions.
  • Your Baby Has Learned Something New: Your baby is growing constantly, and sometimes these physical or emotional changes may intimidate your baby. He may not be able to decipher his newly acquired skill. This increased brain activity may hamper with his feeding schedule and pattern.
  • Your Baby Feels Tired: A tired baby may cry during or after breastfeeds. Though babies sleep well after feeding, sometimes disturbed sleep during the day may cause tiredness in babies. This may make your baby cry and fuss. When you try to comfort and feed your baby, he may go off to sleep; but as you try to pull away, he may start crying profusely. This cycle may go on and tire the baby even more. However, babies feel more settled and start sticking to a routine after three months of age.
  • Your Baby Does Not Want to be Fed: Sometimes you may notice your baby getting away from the breast soon after you start feeding, or refuses to feed. This may happen if your baby isn’t hungry at that time or has had his fill. Older babies (3 months or more) tend to have their fill within few minutes after you start feeding. The best thing would be not to force your baby and try feeding him later and solve your woes of a baby crying while breastfeeding 4 months of age.
  • Your Baby Has Thrush: Sometimes babies may suffer from oral thrush. Oral thrush is a painful condition where your baby will have a cottage-cheese-like material inside his mouth and will experience pain while sucking. If you suspect any such symptoms in your baby, it is recommended to seek immediate medical help.
  • Your Baby Prefers One Breast Over the Other: Sometimes babies prefer being fed from a particular side of the breast and therefore, may fuss when they are shifted from their preferred breast to the less preferred one. It is a good idea to get in touch with your doctor to know the reason behind this behaviour. Sometimes this may be due to some health problem, such as a ear infection or pain, that may lead to breast preference.
  • Your Baby Has a Tongue-Tie: Some babies are born with a tongue-tie, a condition where the lower part of the tongue is not fully detached. This condition hampers their ability to latch on to the breast properly. The shallow attachment may make their tongue slip and lose the grip on the breast. This can make babies irritable and cry during the feeding sessions.
  • Your Baby’s Nose is Blocked: If your baby is suffering from cold or flu, then he may have a blocked nose. A blocked nose may cause discomfort in breathing while breastfeeding and the baby may have to stop every now and then for breathing. This can not only be irritating but extremely uncomfortable for the baby. Sometimes, your incorrect feeding posture may also block your baby’s nose and make him gasping for breath. Talk to your doctor to learn the correct position of breastfeeding.

Baby with nose blocked

  • Your Baby is Getting Too Much Milk: Some mothers may have an oversupply of breast milk, and their babies may be getting too much milk. This could make the babies gassy and unsettled. An overfed baby too can be fussy and irritable after a feeding session.
  • Your Baby Has Reflux: Reflux is a condition when the stomach’s content travels up to the oesophagus and may also enter back into the mouth. Babies are more susceptible to reflux than adults, as they are on a liquid diet, spend more time lying down, and their oesophagus is shorter than that of adults. Few babies may experience pain too, which can make them cry and fuss.
  • Your Baby Has Food Sensitivity: If your baby is exclusively breastfed, then it is quite unlikely that your baby suffers from a food sensitivity. Nonetheless, if your baby develops food sensitivity, then you may notice your baby experiencing more gas, tummy pain or feeling of unsettlement. You may talk to our doctor about food allergies and its effect on your lactation.

Things You Can Do to Calm Your Crying Newborn While Nursing

Here are some things that you may try to calm your newborn while nursing:

  1. Take Your Baby Out for a Stroll: You may take your baby out for a stroll in a park or in a garden. The mother-baby bond strengthens when you spend some quality time with your little one. It will be a good idea to try feeding your baby after an outing.
  2. Try Nursing Your Baby When He is Sleepy: It will be a good idea to try feeding your baby in a sleepy state. This could be just before going off to sleep or before waking up, or in-between nap time. A sleepy baby is usually in a calm and peaceful state, and forgets what he is fussing about.
  3. Ask Someone Else to Calm Your Baby: Babies are very good at sensing your stressful state, and thus, may feel stressed themselves. You may ask a family member or a friend to help you calm your baby during such times. Make sure your baby is familiar and feels comfortable with that person.
  4. Do Not Try Formula: If you are failing at your efforts to get your baby to your breast, then it will be a good idea to express your milk and give it in a bottle. But refrain from giving formula milk to a baby who is under six months of age, if your breast milk is sufficient for your baby.
  5. Do Not Force: If your baby refuses your breast, it is recommended not to force your baby to feed. This may make him crankier and cry even more.
  6. Try Nursing in a Dark Room: Babies get easily distracted by their surroundings, especially babies who are four months or older. It will be a good idea to try feeding them in a dark room or a room with a dim light.
  7. Try Nursing While Bathing: Most babies enjoy bathing. You may get into a cosy bath with your baby and try feeding him.
  8. Try Switching Sides: If your baby is fussing on one breast, you may try offering the other breast to your baby. Sometimes just switching sides may comfort your baby.
  9. Try Different Positions: Sometimes your baby may just fuss or cry because he may be uncomfortable in a certain feeding position. Try changing feeding positions to comfort your baby.
  10. Try Squeezing Your Breast: Your baby may get upset with the slow flow of milk. You may squeeze or massage your breast to get the flow in place.
  11. Try Burping The Baby: You can try burping the baby in between the feeding sessions. Sometimes it is just the trapped gas that may be bothering your baby.
  12. Try Soothing Your Baby: You may calm and soothe your baby by singing to him or playing some soft calming music. A calmer baby will take the breast easily.
  13. Try Skin To Skin Contact: Babies enjoy the closeness and skin to skin contact with their mothers. You may rock, snuggle or hold your baby close to you before you begin feeding your baby.
  14. Pre-empt Your Baby’s Crankiness: If you know that your baby gets cranky at the same time every day, you may start a soothing ritual to help your baby feel comfortable and relaxed.
  15. Be Calm: If your baby fusses while feeding, it may make you feel exhausted too. It is very important to keep your calm and take deep breaths.

So, while it may be a little tedious to deal with crying babies while breastfeeding, the above tips go a long way in keeping things under control.

Also Read: How to Use Nipple Shield for Breastfeeding Baby