If your baby feeds for long periods of time (well over an hour) yet still isn’t gaining enough weight – here is the surprising reason why!
As bizarre as it may seem, there’s a good chance the reason your baby is not gaining weight…is because they’re overtired!
“Tired?!” you say? “My baby can’t be tired! My baby sleeps more than four hours at a time, multiple times a day!!!”
To which I say…
In fact, the equation of…
Sleeping For Long Periods Of Time
SLOW WEIGHT GAIN
Almost always equals an overtired baby.
I know it’s counter intuitive. Yet this is true 999 of 1000 times. So how can you tell if it’s true for you?
Step #1 Check If Baby Is Oversleeping
If your baby is sleeping too long, they are not breastfeeding enough. And by not feeding enough, they actually start having less and less energy.
This forms a negative loop, because when a baby under 6 weeks becomes too tired to feed, they just keep sleeping.
So how do you tell if your baby is sleeping “the right” number of hours, or sleeping too long?
Ask yourself two questions:
- Is your baby sleeping for more than 6 hours straight in a 24 hour period?
- Is your baby having six or less breastfeeds in a 24 hour period?
If you’ve answered “yes” to one (or both) of these questions, it’s time to wake your baby. Don’t worry – it’s for their own good because they need more feeds!
This will not just get your baby back on track with weight gain, it will also help fix their sleeping routine because they won’t be so tired all the time.
So until your baby is 6 weeks old, I recommend you follow these four simple rules until your weight issues have turned around!:
- During the day, wake your baby up every 3 hours
- Allow 4-6 hours sleep at night.
- Remember only one big sleep (6 hours maximum) each 24 hours.
- Fit 7-8 breastfeeds in a 24 hour period.
Once your baby is over 6 weeks, the rules slightly change:
- During the day, let your baby sleep up to four hours straight.
- At night, allow one big sleep – 6-8 hours
- Fit 6-8 breastfeeds in a 24 hour period.
Again, only follow these rules until your weight issues have turned around! (Usually it only takes a week or two!)
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: If you can’t wake your baby up to feed – then it is time to get some help from your Doctor. DO NOT DEALY. Get your bub checked out today!
Now that you know how to make sure your baby doesn’t get into a negative loop over being too tired to feed well, and then sleeping too much because they’re so tired, let’s look at step #2.
Step #2 Tweak The Latch
Now that we have taken care of the primary suspect (baby oversleeping and not having enough breastfeeds in a day), the next thing I look at is latching.
Latching is the one thing you can control if you want to maximise the amount of food your baby gets.
And here are the warning signs of a less-than-optimal latch:
- You feel pain for more than the first minute.
- Your baby’s sucking will look (and feel) like little nibbles. Or he will fall asleep a lot.
- Your baby won’t get into a rhythm. (It will look like your baby is stopping and starting throughout the feed.)
- When baby comes off, your nipple will look either squished into a crease or completely flat on one side (like the end of a lipstick).
If you have any of these signs, check out my 7 Steps to Latching Success guide ASAP.
A little tip: If you think your baby may have a tongue tie, it’s best to get a thorough assessment. Preferably by a lactation consultant or doctor experienced in oral assessment. Give me a call (or text me) at 0414 403 208 for a free consultation.
Now that you have made sure your baby is not oversleeping and you have optimised your baby’s latch, the next tip will help you cut down the time each feeding session takes.
Step #3 Check If Feeding Sessions Are Too Long
As odd as it may seem, letting the breastfeeding sessions go for too long can cause just as much problems as one that runs too short.
What I’m describing here can happen with any premature baby, yet is more common with those who wake well (and sometimes seem to be awake all the time!)
Here’s what you should look out for.
In the first six weeks, your baby only has enough effective energy to be awake one hour at a time. What I mean by that is that after one hour of being awake, their body needs the sleep before they can effectively suck milk again.
Which means that during the first six weeks, breastfeeding, changing your baby’s nappy, and settling them back to sleep should all happen within a one hour window.
This doesn’t come naturally for many babies. So some pre-planning will be called for – which is what I’m here for! Here’s what you do:
- Use both sides at a breastfeed (sometimes you will do both sides twice!)
- Watch your baby sucking, usually your baby will get tired after about 15-20minutes.
- If your baby is getting sleepy you can squeeze and HOLD your breast while they are feeding. This can push more milk in when they suck.
- Once your baby gets tired they will either come off themselves or you can take them off.
- Change their nappy during the break. This will naturally wake them to wake up for another go at the breast.
- Start with the other breast for about 10 minutes or less. Once you see your baby sleepy again, take your baby off.
- If your baby stays asleep – then off to bed. If not, pick a side and your baby can have a third go.
- All done, off to bed – all in under one hour! Yay you!
A little tip: If your baby is so tired they only manage five minutes on the breast before falling asleep, that’s ok. Take your baby off when asleep, and allow them to wake again and get back on. This is ok. If that’s all your baby can manage at this time then that’s all they can manage! 🙂
By following the above key points you make sure your feeding sessions are more effective – and soon slow weight gain will be a thing of the past!
Now let’s see if all these steps are working by looking at poo and wee!
Step #4 Are You Seeing Enough Poo and Wee?
By following steps 1-3 you should notice an increase in poo and wee. And now you’re at step 4 – where we measure the results of your hard work!
And since breasts don’t come with a gauge yet, the closest thing nature gives us for measuring how much milk your baby is taking is…
All you have to do is count nappies, and compare to the amounts below:
- Wee: 6-8 times a day (or their nappy will be wet at each change.)
- Poo: This is a little less frequent than wee but still DAILY. On average a baby 5 days to six week will poo three times a day. It will be yellow and soft.
- A baby over 6 weeks will wee as above, but poo less. You may not see a poo every day.
I have written heaps more on poo and wee! Check out my blog, Is my baby getting enough milk?
Meeting the poo and wee requirement is the BIGGEST sign your baby is getting enough!
Remember, slow weight gain is normal, especially if your baby is a little tired. Following the four steps above should turn things around in no time.
If not getting back on track, or have any question whatsoever – don’t hesitate! Give me a call (or text me) at 0414 403 208 for a free consultation.
I look forward to hearing from you.