baby latch and unlatch repeatedly

Baby latch and unlatch repeatedly: 7 Things you can do about it.

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In breastfeeding a baby, latching is very important, it is the way a baby fastens onto the breast while feeding. A good latch leads to high milk flow, it reduces discomfort for the mother such as nipple sore and cracks and low milk flow which are caused by poor latching. When a baby latches and unlatches repeatedly, it could lead to the baby not having adequate nourishment and a lot of discomfort for the mother.

It’s perfectly natural to feel disappointed when your baby doesn’t seem interested in feeding and feel you are at your wit’s end trying to figure out what the problem is. However, the best way to fix a problem is to know the cause. Therefore, below are reasons a baby latch and unlatch repeatedly.

Reasons Your Baby Latch and Unlatch repeatedly

1)         I am not comfortable Mommy!

The first reason that can cause latching and unlatching is the baby’s comfort. We all won’t be able to focus on the delicacy of a meal if we are uncomfortable one way or the other. This includes when we have gas or stomach ache and the same holds true for babies. So check with your pediatrician to see whether your baby has any health issues that could make them latch and unlatch.

2)         Ooh, what’s that!

Although this doesn’t apply to newborn babies who are still developing their hearing and sight faculties, it is completely true for older babies. They are intrigued by the world and want to be a part of every sound, colour, person, and experience. This explains their action when feeding. They want to do all at the same time. This makes baby latch and unlatch repeatedly.

3)         It’s too much or too less

High milk flow could be an issue for your baby when it’s too profuse. Your baby will feel like a drowning person who needs to come up for air and unlatching helps him to achieve that. It could also be that the baby may also not be getting enough milk. Perhaps the baby is trying to get more milk by latching on repeatedly to induce milk production.

4)         To attach better

Another reason why babies latch and unlatch is to get a better grip. When the baby doesn’t feel like there’s a generous flow of milk, he will unlatch to latch on again.  This adjustment helps him get the best out of a feeding session.

5)         Anatomy may come into play

Nipple size or the nature of the baby’s mouth or breast size can be the reason the baby latch and unlatch repeatedly. You’ll need to visit a doctor to give you proper guidelines on what to do.

6)         The baby isn’t able to suck properly

Sometimes the baby’s lip curls into his mouth and prevents him from having a good latch and getting the most from a feeding session.

7)         The baby just wants to pacify

Sometimes your baby wants to suck on your breast but isn’t interested in getting any more milk. This means that your baby is full but wants to keep sucking on your breast like a pacifier. The only problem with this is that once he commits to sucking, he gets more milk he doesn’t need, and that’s why he unlatches.

8)         Gas

Another reason why newborn latches and unlatches is gas. The baby may have gas or some other form of stomach discomfort. He may also need you to burp him more frequently.

7 Things to do about your baby’s poor latching and popping off repeatedly

The best way to handle the problem of poor latching or unlatching repeatedly is to identify the problems and try to fix them.

Introduce a pacifier

Note the way your baby feeds and learn how he behaves when full. If he shows signs of wanting to keep sucking after being full then that’s your cue to introduce a pacifier. This way, you won’t need to worry about why your baby latches and unlatch repeatedly and your baby won’t get frustrated that he keeps getting milk when he’s done.

Don’t switch things up too quickly

Because breast and nipple size differ, your baby may find it easier to latch onto one breast than the other. So when breastfeeding, don’t switch the baby from one breast to the other until your baby himself shows signs of being full or done on that side. That way, he won’t need to adjust and readjust to the new side before feeding starts.

Don’t get upset

Getting worked up achieves nothing, there is always a reason your baby behaves the way he does, so work the problem not your baby or yourself. Therefore, keep calm always while finding answers to the issue.

Take away the distraction

If your baby is getting easily distracted, then try to go into a quiet room where distractions are very few. Turn your back to the noise or ask the rest of the family to stay away from your space, turn off the television. Also, feed your baby in a dimly lit room rather than a bright room.

Burp often

As a newborn, your baby is going through several layers of development. He even needs to grow out a sphincter to keep food from coming back up as spit-up. So pick your moments, don’t burp so often that you induce vomiting but do it enough that you make yourself comfortable.

See a doctor

When you’ve tried all the above and it doesn’t seem to work or resolve the problem, then don’t postpone going to see the doctor. This way, you can rule out any major health issues and fix whatever problems there are quick to relieve your baby’s distress.

Pull away

Some women just naturally have heavy breast milk flow and would sometimes have the milk spilling out of them and even staining their clothes. When you notice that you have a very heavy flow, then try giving your baby periodical respite to catch his breath. Pull back for a while, let the baby take a minute and take the chance to burp the baby, then go back to feeding.

There are other baby latching problems such as:

  1. Baby won’t unlatch while sleeping

Sometimes your baby won’t unlatch while sleeping and if you try to unlatch them, they start crying, so you quickly put the breast back into their mouth. This can be frustrating especially when you need to sleep yourself. Below are 3 ways to fix a baby who won’t unlatch while sleeping.

a. Get a good pacifier for the baby. If your baby has been rejecting pacifier, try other pacifiers for them. As you unlatch the baby with one hand, use the other hand to fix in the pacifier before the start crying.

b. Wait it out. It comes to a time when the baby will stop it, usually between the ages of 12 months old.

c. Try to get it out of his mind by walking or singing with him.

  1. Baby hungry but keeps unlatching

The second problem you can experience with the baby unlatching is your baby is hungry but keeps unlatching. After they unlatch, they become fussy and looking for a nipple to latch on again. There are several things that can cause it. Find some of them below and also ways you can resolve them.

a. Baby having a tongue-tie. If your baby has a tongue-tie, they will find it difficult to keep latching. So, visit your Pediatrician to check it out. Once, it is resolved, your baby will keep latching normally.

b. Low supply of milk: If your milk supply is not enough for your baby, the baby will be hungry and keep unlatching. To solve this, eat foods that can boost your milk supply such as mother’s milk tea, and oatmeal. Second, supplement with formula. Once you notice that your baby is still hungry, give them a bottle of formula to supplement.

c. Sit with the baby in a rocking chair and rock them, pat their bum, while your breastmilk recollects. Also, you can compress your breast to get the milk flowing again.

  1. Baby keeps unlatching and crying
    The third baby latching problem is baby keeps unlatching and crying. There are also reasons why some babies will do this. The first is the fact that they cannot multitask. They may be processing a poop or they are gassy and need to get them out. Latching will not be fun at such time. Other things that can cause it includes low milk supply as described above, tongue-tie, burping needs, an oversupply of breast milk, etc. Below are what you can do about it.

a. Check the baby for a tongue or lip tie
b. Pump more if you have an oversupply of breastmilk
c. Increase your milk supply if it is low
d. Burp your baby often and give them space to poop or release gas.

There will be challenges through your baby’s childhood, but there is no reason to let those challenges come between your or your baby’s happiness. So be proactive and patient as you see your baby through these phases.

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