Why Will Your Baby Fall Asleep While Breastfeeding – 8 Tips to Help

Why will your baby fall asleep while breastfeeding? Breastfeeding releases the hormone cholecystokinin in both mother and baby, which results in a sleepy feeling. In addition, breast milk also contains sleep-inducing hormones, amino acids, and  nucleotides, whose concentrations are higher during the night and may actually help babies establish their own circadian rhythms. Breastfeeding is very comforting to babies. The act of breastfeeding helps “turn off” a baby’s brain so that it will fall into a deep sleep. This is often why babies tend to want to go back for seconds during their first feedings. Because they are still in this sleepy state.

Why will your baby fall asleep while breastfeeding

As new parents, you might be wondering why your baby falls asleep while breastfeeding. Well, breastfeeding makes a baby feel very sleepy because of the hormone that is in the mommy’s milk. It also has other hormones and chemicals that make babies sleepy at night. This is why a baby might want to eat more, because he is still feeling drowsy from the first food he ate.

Is it normal for my baby to fall asleep while breastfeeding?

Newborns sleep a lot. Falling asleep while breastfeeding is usually okay, and many babies will fall asleep after getting a good feed. A full tummy makes babies tired, and falling asleep is a natural reaction. Getting a good feed may take a newborn over two hours, and then that’s why your baby might fall asleep while breastfeeding. However, if you are concerned about this, it’s best to have a talk with your doctor or seek help from an IBCLC [International Board Certified Lactation Consultant]

You can also help by making sure that you feed your baby when he or she is ready to eat. Going by the rule of thumb, your baby will most likely be hungry every 3-4 hours during the day and 6-8 hours at night. As a new mother, it is very important that you observe your baby’s signals so that you can make sure they are getting proper nutrition.

Why does my baby want to eat more when sleepy?

Babies are the same as everyone else. They feel hungry when they need food and their bodies tell them to “eat”. When babies first come out of the womb, they don’t know how to turn on the switch that says “I am full”. This is why they have to nurse and eat as much as possible.

The act of breastfeeding itself can also make them feel very sleepy. The closeness that they have with their mother is why babies go for seconds after midnight, the closeness makes them feel very safe. This is why it is normal for a baby to want to eat more during the night hour and

When to be concerned

It’s important for your baby to be gaining a proper amount of weight. If your baby is not gaining enough weight and doesn’t soil the minimum amount of diapers a day, then it’s important to keep them awake for most feeding to ensure they are transferring enough breast milk.

Your lactation consultant or health care provider can help you with this.

Related article: 9 Best Tips on Producing More Breast Milk

Ways to wake baby up for breastfeeding

A new baby will sleep much more than an older baby and it can be hard to wake them up enough to get much milk when they are breastfeeding.

  • Change your baby’s diaper before feeding.  It is rarely wrong to help your baby wake up by changing a dirty diaper before feeding.  Many breastfeeding mothers will wake up their baby for the feeding by changing their diaper first and then change a diaper once again after they feed. This will help wake your baby up to feed him or her. 
  • Leave your baby in just the diaper while they breastfeed. Having skin to skin will keep them more alert then wrapped up in a blanket. If they are swaddled up nice and tight in a sleep sack they will be more likely to fall asleep. Undress them as long and the room is a comfortable temperature to make them more alert.
  • Kiss your baby’s hand to keep them awake. Moving their hand up to your mouth with your free hand will keep them more alert as well as help your body know what antibodies to make in your baby’s breast milk. The movement of kissing their hand will help keep them awake and kissing your baby not only establishes a great bond but also helps your body know what germs they are encountering and your body will make the antibodies for your baby!
  • Switch sides 3 to 4 times each nursing session. The more movement you do with switching sides and when you change positions, the less opportunity your baby will be able to fall asleep. Just make sure the nursing session is long enough to get the hind milk. The hind milk is produced more by the end of the nursing session and is higher in fat content which will fill your baby up and lead to proper weight gain. Once your baby starts to doze off, take your baby off your breast by breaking the latch with your finger. Burp your baby before switching to the other side. Do this 3 to 4 times to get a long enough feed in so they get enough breast milk for the session.
  • Express milk by hand expressing.  Your baby will smell the milk and know it is time to breastfeed. Your baby can smell breast milk very well. If you hand express so you have a little milk on your breast just before they latch, it can wake them up and they know it is time to breastfeed!
  • Ensure that your baby has a proper latch. You will want to make sure your baby has a good latch so they are transferring an optimal amount of milk while nursing. If your baby doesn’t have a correct latch but has a shallow latch while they are breastfeeding then they won’t be able to breastfeed effectively and transfer enough breast milk. In the first month for new mothers this can lower your breast milk supply since there is lower milk production.
  • Do breast compressions once your baby falls asleep. Sometimes when your baby will stop sucking when they are breastfeeding because they have fallen into a deep sleep. If you are unable to wake them then a great tip is to use breast compressions to express the milk directly into their mouth and it will get them to start sucking again to get a full feeding. This will get the milk flow going and to get them. It is normal for your baby to fall asleep while nursing but this will help them get enough milk transferred if you want them to stay asleep or you are unable to wake them.
  • Turn on a dim light. Avoid bright lights that might startle the baby but bright enough to wake them up enough to know nap time is over. A lighted room can make the difference between a sleeping baby and an awake baby.

Why is breastfeeding comforting to a baby?

Breast milk contains a lot of the same chemicals that are in our brain, which makes it very comforting for babies since they know what’s coming when they breastfeed. This is why some moms have said that if their babies are fussy they will breastfeed more often.

Related Article: 11 Best Nipple Creams for Breastfeeding

Why do babies want to go back for seconds during their first feedings

Some babies want to go back for seconds during their first feedings because they are still hungry. Babies can’t turn on that switch that says “I am full.” With breastfeeding, the closeness with mommy makes them feel safe. They also have hormones and chemicals in breast milk that help them sleep better at night.

Cluster feeding is also common in the evening and during growth spurts. In the evening your breastmilk is higher in fat and has less water content. Your baby will try to get as much of this as they can before going to bed for the night.

When they are having a growth spurt they tend to cluster feed to support their growing body. This is normal and does not mean you have a low supply. This is simply telling your body to make more breast milk since it is a demand and supply system.


Breastfeeding is very comforting to a baby. The act of breastfeeding helps “turn off” a baby’s brain so that it will fall into a deep sleep. This is why some babies want to go back for seconds during their first feedings. Sometimes they are still hungry and why cluster feeding can happen. This is when your breast milk has more fat in it at night. Also they will cluster feed when your baby will have growth spurts.  If all these things sound complicated… don’t worry! Just follow these tips and if you need more support. Be sure to see a lactation specialist and join a breastfeeding support group.

In this article, you learned why will your baby fall asleep while breastfeeding. Also, how to keep them from doing so. It’s important that your baby stay alert during a nursing session because they need the nourishment it provides. In addition, breast milk contains sleep-inducing hormones, amino acids, and  nucleotides which are higher at night or when there is a growth spurt – making it more likely for your little one to doze off as well. Be sure to use these tips to keep your baby awake during most feedings and enjoy the baby snuggles!

Be sure to read The Best Probiotic to Take While Breastfeeding That Can Boost Your Supply. Also The Best Overnight Diapers so your baby can feel happy and dry all night long.



About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.

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