Why Does My Baby Squirm While Nursing?

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When moms-to-be think about nursing their newborn, they do not often envision a baby wriggling and squirming in their arms. Many new moms may not realize that although breastfeeding may be natural, it is not always easy. 

Photographs of nursing mothers can be deceiving as they often show a content baby peacefully feeding. In reality, babies will not always rest sleepily in your arms while nursing and it will sometimes feel impossible to keep them still throughout a feed.

For many first-time moms, breastfeeding can come as a bit of a shock. There are many challenges to overcome for nursing moms and their babies, one of which is learning to help your baby to stop squirming and wriggling while they are being fed.

If you are a new mom and are wondering why does my baby squirm while nursing? Don’t panic we have taken a look at the reasons why this may be happening in this article. 

My Baby Acts Crazy While Breastfeeding!

If you have ever felt like your baby is acting crazy while you are breastfeeding, rest assured you are not the only nursing mom to feel this way. 

Strange behavior while breastfeeding is actually more common than you think. In fact, if you have a mom friend with a baby that always keeps still while nursing then she is just very lucky.

If your baby is squirming and wriggling and fussing during feeds there are lots of reasons why this may be happening and this behavior is very common. 

Let’s delve into some of the reasons why babies squirm and ‘act a bit crazy’ sometimes while nursing.

Why Is My Baby So Squirmy While Nursing?

There are many reasons why your baby may be squirming and fussing while they are nursing. While this behavior is common it is not something that should be ignored and is usually your baby trying to indicate that something isn’t quite right. Here is a list of the most common reasons why babies squirm while nursing:

1. Your letdown is too fast

Guide to Breast Feeding

At the beginning of a feed, your baby will suckle fast to encourage your body to release oxytocin and to let your milk down. A letdown is when your breastmilk begins to flow at the start of the feed.

This milk usually comes out quicker than the rest of the milk but sometimes it comes out too quickly for babies to manage. If you have a strong letdown, your milk can be released quickly and powerfully into your baby’s mouth.

It can be difficult for your baby to drink the milk fast enough and this can cause them to start squirming and fussing at your breast. A strong letdown can also cause your baby to cough and choke if they are finding the flow is too quick and forceful. 

2. Your letdown is too slow

Some nursing moms have the opposite problem, their milk doesn’t start flowing quickly enough. Babies will wriggle and squirm at the start of the feed if your milk isn’t flowing quick enough for them.

They may grow impatient that they are sucking but the milk isn’t flowing, this is when they will start to fuss and squirm. A hungry baby doesn’t want to wait for their food and if your letdown is slow they may squirm and wriggle to show you that they are not happy! 

3. Your latch or positioning needs correcting

A good latch is vital for your baby to get optimum amounts of milk during a feed and for moms to feel comfortable during nursing.

If your baby is latched on poorly they will not be getting the same amount of milk from the breast as they would be with a proper latch. Your baby may start fussing because they are not enjoying the feed and not getting milk effectively from the breast.

Also, your baby may feel uncomfortable in certain positions and may start moving around to try and indicate to you that they want to be put into a different position. 

4. They are too hungry

mother breastfeeding

Even though you are nursing your baby already, they may still be fussing simply because they are hungry.

If your baby has not been fed for a while and is ravenous by the time you nurse them, they may seem a little frantic at the start of the feed until their hunger is starting to be satisfied.

When babies are really hungry it can be difficult to latch them on at all because they often flail their arms and legs around and sometimes arch their back and shake their head from side to side.

This normally happens when your baby has become too upset and hungry and once they have calmed down and their tummy starts to fill with milk their squirming should ease up. 

5. They are full

On the opposite side of the scale, your baby may start squirming while nursing because they are full. If your baby’s hunger has been satisfied, they may start squirming as a way of communicating they are ready to stop feeding now.

Nursing moms will get used to their baby’s feeding patterns and if their baby starts feeding for less time, they may worry and try to latch them back on.

This is when squirming can occur, sometimes your baby is just less hungry than others and they will wriggle and fuss if you try to get them to feed more when they are already full. 

6. They are having tummy troubles

If your baby is constipated or suffering from colic they may squirm during feeds because they have an upset stomach. Colic can be painful for babies and sometimes feeding can increase their discomfort if their stomach is sore.

Trapped gas can make breastfeeding uncomfortable too and this may cause them to squirm and wriggle.

Also, the rule of not going to the bathroom while you eat does not apply to babies! Your little one may be squirming at the breast because they are trying to fill their diaper. 

7. They are ill or have a health issue

The Easiest Way to Induce Lactation for Breastfeeding

Just like adults don’t always feel like eating when they’re ill, your baby may be wriggling while nursing because they are unwell and don’t want to feed. Your baby may have an ear infection or a fever, for example.

If your baby is wriggling while nursing and seems unwell, you should take them to see the doctor. If your little one has been squirming during feeds because they have been ill, the fussing should stop once they are feeling better.

8. They are curious and exploring

As your baby grows they will begin to explore the world around them. As your baby becomes more alert and curious they may begin to wriggle and move around a lot while nursing.

Your baby is just trying to see more or experiment with different body movements. Older babies and nursing toddlers will sometimes even try to carry on playing or toddle away while still nursing!

9. They are teething

Teething can be really painful for babies and feeding can sometimes intensify teething pain.

Teething can cause your baby’s gums to become sore and inflamed and as your baby must use their mouth to feed, they may find nursing hurts and they start to wriggle and fuss because they are in pain.

Babies can start teething at any time but if your baby is displaying other teething symptoms, their squirmy feeds may be the result of those brand new teeth starting to come through

10. They want the other breast

Some babies are fussy and prefer feeding on one breast and not the other. If you are trying to nurse your baby on one side but they are wriggling and squirming, this may be down to the fact they are not feeding on their favorite side.

Also, if your baby is wriggling towards the end of a feed, it may be an indication that your baby is finished on that side and wants to nurse from the other breast.

Related Post: Why Does My Baby Headbutt?

How Do I Get My Baby To Stop Squirming While Breastfeeding? 

The first step to stopping your baby from squirming while nursing is to try and identify what is causing the problem.

If you can work out why exactly your baby is wriggling during breastfeeds, it will be easier for you to find the best solution. Here are some of the ways you can try to stop your baby squirming while nursing:

mother breastfeeding baby2

1. Express milk before a feed

If your let down is too fast, pumping or hand expressing until the forceful let down is over can help to make nursing easier and more comfortable for your baby.

You can save the milk to give to your baby another time by storing it in the freezer or fridge. Pumping or hand expressing may also help babies who are wriggling because your letdown is too slow.

If you hand express or pump before latching on your baby you can get the milk flowing ready for them so they don’t have to get impatient and tired trying to initiate your letdown.

However, it is always best to seek professional advice from a lactation specialist as pumping too much or too little has the potential to disrupt your milk supply.

2. Reposition and re-latch

Squirming can sometimes be down to just a poor latch and an uncomfortable position. If your baby is wriggling while feeding, try taking them off the breast, swapping their position, and latching them back on.

Check and then double-check their latch and hopefully, once they are more comfortable and feeding effectively they will stop fussing and moving so much. 

3. Visit the doctor

If you are concerned your child’s squirming during nursing may be due to poor health or illness then you should take them to see their doctor.

Sometimes infections and fevers can cause your baby to fuss while they are nursing and once your baby has been treated for their illness the squirming will stop.

4. Skin to skin

baby and mother after breastfeeding

Your baby can sometimes squirm during feeds because they have got too stressed out and upset. Holding your baby skin to skin can help to regulate your baby’s temperature, steady their heart rate and calm them down.

Offering regular skin to skin will encourage your baby to feel safe and calm in your arms and this will hopefully lead to more peaceful and content nursing sessions. 

5. Burp your baby

It is a myth that breastfed babies do not need burping. Nursing babies can still swallow air bubbles occasionally, especially if they have fed quickly, and this can cause painful trapped wind.

Make sure you regularly burp your baby after and between feeds, this should help reduce any tummy pain and squirming the next time you nurse them. 

6. Remove all distractions

Older babies often move around a lot while nursing because they are interested in everything going on around them. Your show on the television, their sibling playing, the dog barking, there are lots of things that can distract your baby while nursing.

If your baby wriggles during feeds because they are being nosey then try nursing them in a room free from distractions. Dimming the lights and switching the television off may be all it takes to stop your baby squirming while nursing. 

7. Avoid bottles for as long as possible

It is your choice if and when you introduce a bottle to your baby. However, if you can, it is best to wait until breastfeeding is established and you and your baby are both confident with your nursing skills.

Babies do not need to put much effort into feeding on a bottle, the milk comes out immediately when your baby sucks on the plastic nipple, unlike breastfeeding where your baby has to work to get the milk to let down.

If your baby becomes used to the flow of a bottle, they may wriggle while nursing because the milk isn’t coming out as fast. 

8. Get into a feeding routine

mother breastfeeding baby1

Breastfed babies are notoriously bad for sticking to a feeding schedule. However, it is a good idea to try and develop a loose feeding routine so you have a rough idea when your baby will be hungry.

If your baby squirms while nursing because they have got impatient and are really hungry, you can potentially eradicate this problem by ensuring you offer them a feed before they get to this stage.

9. Use a soother

Sometimes babies will use their mom as a human pacifier. Your baby is full but continues to nurse simply for comfort, sound familiar?

If your baby is suckling at the breast then milk will come out, this may result in your baby squirming and wriggling as they are no longer interested in the milk, they are just sucking for comfort.

If you offer your baby a pacifier after their feed your baby’s squirming habit may stop. 

10. Stop nursing when your baby wriggles

If your baby is squirming and kicking then you can try teaching them that this behavior has consequences. When your baby starts squirming, take them off the breast until they stop.

Once your baby calms down, latch them back on and continue the feed. By doing this a few times, you will begin to teach your baby that every time they start squirming while nursing you will take the breast away.

Over time your baby will start to understand that if they want to keep nursing they need to stop squirming and wriggling during feeds. 

FAQs

Why is my baby so wiggly while feeding?

For most babies, wiggling is their way of getting comfortable and finding a good latch that is suitable for them.

Why does my baby grunt and squirm while breastfeeding?

The noises that your newborn makes are often cute but when they start squirming and grunting it can be a little worrying. But there is no need to panic as this is usually just down to their digestion and them getting used to drinking milk.

Why does my baby pull away and cry while breastfeeding?

Babies often fuss, cry or pull away from the breast when they need to burp. If your milk is flowing fast then this can also make the situation worse. It also means that they can swallow more air or gulp down milk faster than normal.

The Final Thought 

It is very common for babies to wriggle and squirm while breastfeeding. The best way to stop your baby from squirming while nursing is to work out what is causing the wriggling and then use one of the solutions listed above.

Babies squirm while feeding for lots of different reasons and in most instances, this problem can easily be solved. 

If you have any other concerns or questions about breastfeeding then why not check out our guide here.

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!