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My baby isn't breastfeeding well, should I be concerned?

My baby isn't eating well. She fusses, cries and turns red when I try breastfeeding her. She also fights with my nipple. She's only done pee once today but that's it no poop.


Elizabeth Walenz | Pediatrician

Elizabeth Walenz

This can be frustrating as a breastfeeding mother. First and foremost: hydration.

When a baby is not feeding well, if they are birth to 6 months of age, they should have a wet diaper every 3-6 hours, if they have gone longer than 6 hours without urinating, they need to be checked by a physician. It is very easy for young babies to get dehydrated.  

Signs of dehydration in a baby can be dry mouth, dry lips, the soft spot or anterior fontanelle, can be somewhat sunken in appearance.  Dehydrated infants can be very sleepy as well, not interested in feeding or play.

If your baby is exhibiting any of these signs, they may be dehydrated and need to be evaluated by their physician or ER.

Nursing strikes can be common in different stages of infancy.  Engorgement can lead to difficulty feeding. If mom feels full of milk, but the baby is having a hard time latching on, mom can help to express some milk with an electric pump or by hand to get the breast softer which can help with latching on. 

If the baby is a bit older, he/she can be easily distracted and may fight feeding on the breast. I will recommend trying a few different strategies. Try to feed sooner than the baby is due to feed, by 20-30 minutes, this will help to avoid the baby getting over-hungry and frustration. 

Nursing in a quiet environment with minimal stimulation can help to avoid distractions, which may encourage the baby to pop off the breast.  Expressing some milk and putting on the nipples or dripping into the baby’s mouth can help to attract the baby back to the breast as well.  

Babies that attend daycare or are receiving bottles during the day, may struggle when back at the breast because it is easier to get milk from a bottle than a breast.  Make sure if your baby does use a bottle that he is using a slow flow nipple. This will help with going back to the breast with feeding.

Read more answers by Dr. Walenz