Baby Cries during Breastfeeding : Effective Ways to Deal with It

Baby Crying While Breastfeeding – Causes and Solutions

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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Breast milk is one of the best sources of nutrition for babies. Breastfeeding not only provides nourishment to your baby, but it is also one of the best ways to bond with your little one. This pleasant and comforting experience may become a nightmare when your baby starts wailing during or after nursing sessions. In this article, we’ll tell you the causes of babies crying while nursing and also give you some solutions.

Video : Baby Cries During Breastfeeding – Reasons and Solutions

Causes of Crying During Breastfeeding

All these factors can make your baby fuss during feeding:

  • The Flow of Breast Milk:

Many babies cry while breastfeeding due to the flow of milk. If your baby coughs or gags after you begin breastfeeding, 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 may also signal your baby’s urge to burp or pass gas. While shifting your baby from one breast to the other, gently rub his back. However, once your baby is six months or older, he may burp on his own. You can even change his nappy to expel the trapped gas.

  • He Feels Distracted

Babies who are three months or older easily get distracted by their environment. If your curious baby hears a loud noise, your efforts to get him back to the breast may irritate him.

  • He is Teething

Some babies cry and fuss when they’re teething. As their gums become sore, sucking causes pain and discomfort.

Teething baby

  • Your Baby is Stressed

If you’re worried and stressed, your baby may get stressed, too. This may lead to crying and fussing during feeding sessions.

  • Your Baby Feels Tired

Sometimes, due to inadequate sleep, babies cry or fuss while feeding. However, babies feel more settled and start sticking to a routine after three months of age.

  • He Isn’t Hungry

If your baby isn’t hungry or has had his fill, he may refuse to feed. If this is the case, don’t force your baby, and try feeding him later.

  • He Has Thrush

Some babies may suffer from oral thrush. This is a painful condition where a baby has a cottage-cheese-like material inside his mouth and experiences pain while sucking.

  • Your Baby Prefers One Breast Over the Other

There are also babies who prefer feeding on a particular breast. If they’re shifted to the less preferred breast, they may start crying. This may sometimes be due to some health problem, such as an 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’s nose is blocked due to a cold or an incorrect feeding posture, he may refuse to feed.

Baby with nose blocked

  • Your Baby is Getting Too Much Milk

Some moms have an oversupply of breast milk, which makes them overfeed their infants. Overfeeding not only makes babies gassy and unsettled but can also discourage them from feeding.

  • Your Baby Has Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a condition wherein the food travels back up into the oesophagus from the stomach. The discomfort and pain that comes with reflux make them cry and fuss.

  • He Has Food Sensitivity

Food sensitivity is rare in exclusively breastfed infants. Nonetheless, if your baby develops food sensitivity, you may notice gas, tummy pain or discomfort. Ask your paediatrician if you need to stop consuming certain foods.

  • It May Be a Growth Spurt

When babies grow through growth spurts, they tend to become irritable and fussy. This may be the reason your baby cries during a nursing session.

  • Your Baby Smells Something Unusual

A new soap, perfume or lotion may have put your baby off from breastfeeding.

  • Your Breast Milk Tastes Different

The texture of your breast milk can change due to new foods, periods, or second pregnancy. This can trigger a breastfeeding strike.

If your baby is exhibiting fussy behaviour, it could be either of these problems or a combination of two or more. As your infant can’t speak yet; it’s up to you to assess the symptoms and figure out the cause.

Things You Can Do to Calm Your Newborn While Nursing

Here are some things you can try to calm your baby:

  1. Take Him Outdoors

    Take your baby out for a stroll in the park. It’s a good idea to feed your baby after an outing.

  2. Nurse Your Baby When He’s Sleepy

    Feed your baby when he’s drowsy. A sleepy baby is calm and collected, making breastfeeding easier.

  3. Ask Your Spouse to Carry Your Baby

    Babies are good at sensing emotions. If you’re feeling stressed out or depressed, ask your spouse/grandparent to calm the baby.

  4. Refrain From Giving Formula

    If your baby doesn’t take to the breast, express your milk and give it in a bottle. Refrain from giving formula milk if your breast milk is sufficient for your baby.

  5. Don’t Compel Him

    If your baby refuses to feed, leave him be. Forcing him to drink will only make him crankier.

  6. Try Nursing in a Dark Room

    To prevent your baby from getting distracted by his surroundings, try feeding in a dark/dimly lit room.

  7. Switch the Breast

    If your baby is fussy about one breast, try offering the other one.

  8. Try Different Feeding Positions

    Sometimes, your baby may fuss or cry because he feels uncomfortable in a certain feeding position. Experiment with different feeding positions until you find a suitable one.

  9. Squeeze Your Breasts

    If your baby is upset with the slow flow of milk, squeeze or massage your breasts.

  10. Burp Him

    Burp the baby after a feeding session. This helps to release the trapped gas.

  11. Play Soothing Music

    Another way to calm and soothe your baby is to sing to him or play soft music.

  12. Increase Skin-to-Skin Contact

    Babies enjoy the proximity and skin-to-skin contact with their mothers. Cuddle, snuggle and hold your baby close while breastfeeding.

  13. 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.

  14. Keep Calm

    If your baby fusses while feeding, keep 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

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