Why Does My Baby Move So Much While Nursing? (5 Main Causes)

Despite being ultimately rewarding in the end, babies can be challenging to care for. Many new mothers can even be surprised to find out that nursing babies can be difficult when babies keep moving around. There are quite a number of behaviors babies exhibit when nursing. While these behaviors are perfectly normal, it can be beneficial for mothers to understand why babies can be so fussy during nursing. Determining the root of the problem can then make nursing significantly easier.

A tired baby would squirm when being fed because they’d rather sleep. Another common cause is when there is an improper milk flow. A slow milk flow can irritate a hungry baby while a fast milk flow can be too much.

Comfort should also be assessed when nursing as a moving baby can indicate discomfort. Growth spurts and various developmental stages can also cause fussiness. Lastly, babies can squirm while nursing if they have certain medical conditions.

This article will primarily discuss the various reasons why babies move so much while nursing.

Why Is My Baby So Squirmy While Nursing

  1. Tiredness

mother and baby looking tired

Taking care of a baby means having to learn how to understand their behaviors. Since babies cannot simply talk to you, they have to let you know how they feel in other ways. For example, one of the main ways babies communicate is through crying. When your baby is crying, you know something is wrong and that they need you for something particular. When your baby cries, you go through the usual list of causes to address their concerns. These concerns can be hunger, fatigue, discomfort, and so on.

When your baby moves a lot while nursing, one common reason is that they’re simply tired. It is possible that they are not as hungry as you initially thought and that they would rather have a nap than feed right now. Understandably, a tired baby will squirm when being fed because they don’t even want to nurse.

Possible signs to look out for are other indications of tiredness. Tired babies would often touch their faces or rub their eyes. An easy way to confirm this would simply be to try and get your baby to sleep. If they fall asleep immediately, then you’ve solved the case.

  1. Improper Milk Flow

When it comes to breastfeeding, you will have to learn about the let-down reflex. When a baby sucks on a nipple, special nerves in the nipple are triggered which causes hormones to activate milk flow from the breast. This response, also known as the milk ejection reflex, is what makes milk available to the baby. Ultimately, the let-down reflex controls milk flow.

A strong let-down reflex is also the culprit behind milk leaking. This happens when something rubs against a mother’s nipples such as fabric. A baby’s cry can even trigger a mother’s let-down reflex.

Unfortunately, some mothers can have a relatively slow let-down reflex. This means that the milk flow is not immediately triggered when the baby starts sucking. Thus, a slow let-down reflex can irritate a hungry baby which then causes them to be fussy.

A slow let-down reflex can be due to a variety of reasons. These reasons can include pain, stress, caffeine, and even certain medications. Anxiety can also play a major role as mothers who can’t produce enough milk get worried, further exacerbating their slow let-down reflex.

If you believe you have a slow let-down reflex, there are some things you can do to help yourself. For example, you can have your baby undressed while nursing to maximize skin-to-skin contact. You must also have a nursing routine (i.e., same time, same place, etc.) to help get your body used to the process. During nursing, it is important to stay calm and relaxed. Some mothers would listen to soothing music while practicing deep breathing with their eyes closed during nursing.

On the other hand, there are some cases where mothers can have an overactive let-down reflex. When milk flow is too fast, babies can also have difficulty in feeding. Signs of a fast reflex can include trapped wind, spitting up, or the refusal of the breast. A fast flow can also cause babies to swallow air which can also lead to the baby needing to be burped.

Mothers with this issue can remedy this by expressing milk before feeding. Pumping milk is a great way to have a supply of milk on hand while getting the milk flow just right for the baby to nurse.

  1. Discomfort

Mother is trying to comfort crying baby

Comfort is an important factor to consider when breastfeeding. It is possible that a fussy baby indicates that they are not in their most comfortable nursing position.

New mothers will have to learn the optimum nursing position that will enable their baby to latch on and nurse properly. Not only can a proper position promote efficient feeding, but it can also protect the mother’s nipples from cracking or soreness.

Eventually, a mother can determine a nursing position that the baby likes best – a position where the baby latches on to at least an inch of the areola.

When a baby continues to move so much even in this nursing position, then other factors will have to be considered. Other causes of discomfort while feeding can include having a wet diaper, tiredness, or even pain.

If a baby begins to squirm at the end of a feed, then this behavior might indicate that they have had enough. This can be compounded when a satiated baby wants to suckle but milk keeps flowing into their mouth.

Babies can even have preferences over which breast to latch on to. This could be because one breast has a particular milk flow that the baby prefers over the other. A simple way to determine if your baby has a preference is to check whether they are fussier when being fed with one breast over the other.

It is important to remember that proper nursing should not pose any discomfort to both the baby and the mother. Discomfort for nursing mothers is often a common reason why mothers switch to bottle-feeding their babies. While bottle-feeding is perfectly fine, a baby should be breastfed if possible for the numerous benefits.

  1. Growth Spurt

Babies grow incredibly fast. While they enter a family as a tiny newborn, parents can be surprised to find out how much their baby can grow in a year. Within a year, a baby has several growth spurts. These growth spurts can cause a baby to move so much while nursing as they need more milk for the developmental support.

While all babies grow at their own pace, growth spurts can commonly occur at two weeks, three weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months.

To accommodate a baby’s growth spurt, you will need to follow your intuition, as well as the baby’s lead. A growing baby will need more and more of your attention. Responding to their needs can then mean more feeding times. As feeding frequency increases, remember to keep yourself healthy and hydrated.

It is also important to take note that babies teethe around after six months. This can be an incredibly uncomfortable period for them which can cause them to be quite fussy while nursing.

Aside from physical growth spurts, your baby might also be undergoing developmental stages in their mind. Often considered the “Wonder Weeks,” your baby begins to have a view of the world around them. These periods promote the development of new skills for the baby. Unfortunately, this can cause babies to be extremely distracted and fussy. If you believe this is what is happening to your baby, then nursing them in a quiet room without distractions can possibly help.

  1. Sickness

Lastly, it is possible that your baby is moving so much while nursing because they are sick. Unfortunately, there are certain conditions that babies can be prone to which causes them to be uncomfortable during feeding.

A common cold can be a possible reason why the baby squirms while feeding. If you suspect a cold is an obstacle to your nursing, try cleaning your baby’s nose. A clogged nose can make it incredibly difficult for the baby to feed and breathe at the same time.

Another cause of concern is infection. For example, a baby can get oral thrush – a fungal infection. You can begin to identify oral thrush by looking at the symptoms such as cracked skin in the corners of your baby’s mouth and white patches in your baby’s mouth. For oral thrush, an antifungal medication should be prescribed by your baby’s primary doctor.

In cases where you suspect something is off, there is no harm in checking with your pediatrician to ensure that your baby is fine.

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