baby squirms while breastfeeding

What to do when baby squirms while breastfeeding

Through your journey of breastfeeding your baby, you will discover a lot of things about yourself and the baby. You’ll discover certain changes in your little one as he grows which will inform how you move forward with your baby. And since your greatest priority as a parent is to raise a happy, well-rounded individual, the changes can be really scary. One of the changes that occur in a baby is that the baby squirms while breastfeeding. This has made a lot of women ask “why does my baby squirm when breastfeeding”?

In this article, you will learn what to do when baby squirms while breastfeeding and what to do about it.

What to expect when the baby squirms while breastfeeding!

Here is what you need to look out for when your baby squirms while nursing.

1).        Growth spurt

When babies go through a significant growth or change, be it an actual growth and increase in body size and weight or a newfound attention nature and the world around, it affects every aspect of their regular day including feeding. So your baby could be squirming while breastfeeding because he is fascinated by the world and wants to go back to staring at it.

2)         The baby is tired!

There are those times when the baby wants nothing to do with the breast milk and just wants a nap. If you notice that your little one keeps rubbing at his face while stretching and yawning, it could be a sign that he wants a nap and not a feed. Tiredness can make a baby squirms a lot while breastfeeding

3)         Inconsistent letdown

The letdown of breast milk follows a certain pattern. When your baby sucks at the breast, the milk comes in low spurts that increase and may drip. This is then followed by a decline where that high letdown is exhausted and the baby needs to work at it again to induce heavy letdown.  This can be very frustrating for a hungry baby and can lead to the baby squirming while breastfeeding and fussing behavior.

4)         An infection or pain

Pain causes discomfort in babies as it does in adults.  Your baby may suddenly stop feeding less as usual due to an infection such as an ear infection or a pain or sore somewhere in the body. It could also be an infection on your breast itself which changes the taste or texture of the milk. If you suspect that your baby is in pain, try to find out where the pain is by looking him over or just consult a Paediatrician.

5.         The position does not work

Sometimes, the baby is not comfortable in the position in which he is being held and therefore may want to shift around to get more comfortable. This moving around may not be possible if you don’t know why your baby is squirming while breastfeeding, to begin with. Also, ensure that the baby’s diaper isn’t wet and the clothes aren’t sweaty. The position can make the baby move a lot while breastfeeding.

6.         Preferences

Throughout our bodies, there are differences in size between any two same organs. The same applies to the breasts in which one can be bigger than the other or one has a heavier letdown than the other. This may lead to the baby developing a preference regarding which breast to feed. So, the baby can start kicking while breastfeeding searching for the fuller breast.

7. It is a reflex that helps the baby to stabilize

Most babies wiggles while breastfeeding because they are looking for a comfortable position that will help them to latch better. This means they will wiggle so much while breastfeeding. For instance, if you are half sitting down and half laying on your back and you put your baby on your belly. The baby will wiggle to try to find the best possible position for breastfeeding.

8. The baby is playing

Babies love to play, even if it means kicking while nursing. They get so happy and active that they squirm and wiggle while breastfeeding. Sometimes, they even smile. I’m sure you don’t want your baby to stop playing. It can be annoying though, especially if you are trying to nurse them. But the thing is babies have their own timetable. So, get used to it.

9.         Sickness or teething

When the baby is ill or teething, there are bound to be differences in how he feeds and for how long he even wants to feed. If your baby squirms while bottle-feeding or breastfeeding, after he caught a fever then the fever is likely to blame for it. Once the fever is cleared, then he’ll go back to regular feeding.

How to Address baby Squirms episodes while feeding

Have a naptime routine

If your baby is too tired to feed properly, then you have a serious issue. You need to ensure that no matter how active your baby is; he gets time to nap during the day and has an early bedtime. Avoid shifting bedtime too far into the night or spreading the nap times too far apart. This will only give you a baby who is tired and hungry and does not understand how to handle both.

Solve the Issue

Check your baby for signs of infection or pain. Also, check your breasts for any sore that may prevent your baby from being comfortable while feeding. See a doctor when you have any problems and strictly avoid self-medicating. Just because another mother seemingly had the same issue and solved a certain way doesn’t mean that you have the same problem she had or that you’ll be able to solve it that way.

Do lots of skin to skin

Skin to skin brings your baby closer to you and helps you form that parental bond with him. Try doing skin to skin before feeding and between any two feeding sessions to get your baby comfortable and feeling safe with you.

Try pumping

If your baby has a problem latching on to the nipple or just isn’t breastfeeding happily, then try pumping the milk out for him. You can also hand express for your child. The main thing is that he still gets nutrition and nurturing care from breast milk.

Burp between feeds

As your baby feeds, especially if he was hungry, it is likely to swallow down air pockets that fill up space and stop any further feeding. You can help your baby out by stopping at intervals every now and again to burp your baby and let him come up from feeding before going back.   

Change positions

Your baby may be frustrated because you are keeping him on the same breast when he is done and just wants to move to the next one. Therefore, when your baby has drained one breast, shift him to the other and alternate until you find a comfortable position for you both. Don’t forget to burp as you do.

Don’t introduce bottles too quickly

The flow of breastmilk through a baby bottle nipple is steady and does not require much effort from the baby. Whereas, at Mom’s nipple, the baby needs to work at it and try to initiate a heavy letdown. This means that if the baby begins with bottle feeding, the breast will just be too tasking for him.

Feed the baby in a darkened room

If your baby is distracted to the point of kicking while nursing, you need to breastfeed them in a dark room, away from distracting objects. This means the baby will reduce wriggling when breastfeeding and they will sleep easily. Of course, it will be boring for you and you can also fall asleep. But it is all for your good.

Stop and start breastfeeding when the baby wriggles or kicks
One thing you can do to teach the baby not to wriggle or kick while breastfeeding is to remove the breast when the baby wiggles or kicks. Then replace it immediately the baby stops kicking while nursing. The duration of this shouldn’t be much, something like a minute or two will do. You are teaching the baby that when they wriggle or kick their legs, the breast will be removed and when they stop, they can nurse again.

Make good use of the pacifier

Occasionally after a feed, your baby is done feeding and just wants to suck on the nipple. At this time, if the letdown continues steadily, it will frustrate the baby because that’s not what he wants and this is where the pacifier comes in. Use it when your baby is done but still wants to go at it.  

Conclusion

Above are the reasons why a baby squirms while breastfeeding and what you can do about it. Sometimes, it can also happen when bottle feeding. Your baby can squirm while bottle feeding. Babies can also flail arms and legs while bottle feeding. Both squirming, flailing arms, and legs while bottle-feeding can also be because of the reasons given above. Therefore, the tips will help you manage your baby’s frustration and fuss while guiding them to be happier and enjoy the feeding process.

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