Baby Squirms and Fussing at the Breast

Baby Squirms and Fussing at the Breast

Some babies will fuss, weep or pull off the breast during breastfeeding. There are a number of reasons this might be taking place. It’s pretty typical to see this kind of habits at around 6-8 weeks, though it can take place at any time. If your baby is generally picky (not simply when nursing) see My baby is fussy! Is something wrong?

Identifying the problem

Here are some of the problem-solving actions I go through when my baby is picky at the breast or a mother asks me why her baby is fussing while breastfeeding:

How old is baby? Most babies go through development spurts during the first couple of days at home and around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, and so on. Many babies are fussy during growth spurts.

Is baby working on anything brand-new developmentally? Babies who are beginning to discover the world around them can be notoriously distractible. Any kind of new developmental step that baby is dealing with can impact nursing temporarily, whether it be fussy nursing habits or simply more frequent nursing.

When is baby fussing? To figure out the cause it’s helpful to pay attention to when the picky behavior takes place, both during the nursing session and throughout the day.

If baby is fussy right when your milk is pulling down (or immediately after), there’s a good chance that the fussy nursing is connected to a fast let-down. If baby is picky prior to let-down, or a few minutes into nursing (and a while after let-down), then baby might be restless for the fast flow of milk that comes with let-down. Fussing at the end of a nursing session (or what seems to be completion) might mean that baby has to burp, or is all set to complete nursing, or simply wishes to draw (and doesn’t want to deal with a brand-new let-down at this moment), or wants to continue nursing on the other side or with a much faster flow of milk.

If the fussy behavior is generally in the mornings, it might be due to a faster than typical let-down if baby has just had a longer sleep period and mother’s breasts are fuller than normal. If baby is fussier during night nursings, it might be because of the regular picky time that a lot of babies have during the night. Although a lot of babies do not react to foods that mommy consumes, some do. If you eat a particular food at about the very same time every day (or most days) and baby has a regular time where she fusses during nursing, try not eating that food for a week or more to see if things improve.

Does fussing take place on both sides similarly or only on one side? The majority of moms have a faster let-down and/or a more abundant milk supply on one side than the other, so if your baby fusses more on one side, it may be because of these distinctions.

What else is happening with baby? Is she sick or teething? Is something brand-new or various going on in her environment? Has she began solids or is she trying a new food? Is she displaying other symptoms besides the picky nursing?

Below are discussions of a few of the different things that can result in picky nursing behavior. Keep in mind that the problem may likewise be a mix of several things.

If Baby is fussing simply as you start to nurse, it might be because of a sluggish or excessively fast milk let down reflex. This means that your baby is annoyed with the circulation of your milk. A fast milk pull down is mainly an issue in the mornings when mothers have a quicker circulation of milk, and babies might struggle to keep up.

Does baby have to burp?

Lots of babies will weep, fuss, manage the breast, etc. if they have to burp. Aim to burp in between breasts and after a feeding, but do not worry if baby does not burp and is material. Breastfed babies in general do not take in as much air during a feeding as bottle-fed babies do, so usually don’t need to burp as typically. If baby has been crying before she nurses, or is so starving that she nurses “frantically” or if mom has a quick let-down, baby could be taking in more air and may have to be burped more often.

Burping is normally only essential during the first few months, though it may extend longer. As soon as your baby is moving more easily, she will be able to ease the stomach gas herself. This typically will happen in between the 4th and 6th month, but may be shorter in some children and longer in others.

If baby has a tough time burping, try burping more frequently during a feeding. The best burping position is one that applies firm pressure to the baby’s stomach. Placing baby over the shoulder way up so that there is pressure on baby’s abdominal area often works well. Walking while doing this might sidetrack her long enough to obtain an excellent burp. You may even wish to lie baby down on her stomach and burp her that way.

Baby Squirms and Fussing at the Breast

Development spurt

Babies frequently manage and fuss during development spurts. The majority of babies go through development spurts, in some cases called frequency days, during the first few days at home and around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months (basically). More development spurt info in this link.

Distractible baby

If baby seems to be managing the breast at any interruption (genuine or fictional), then see The Distractible Baby.

Strong let-down

Some babies will manage the breast soon after let-down if mother has a strong let-down Baby may be annoyed by the too-fast circulation of milk with let-down. A too-forceful let-down can also cause excessive gas or spitting up/vomiting. There is more info here on symptoms of and how to deal with a fast let-down reflex.

Slow let-down

Some babies get really impatient if mommy has a slow let-down. There is more information here on speeding up a sluggish let-down reflex.

Baby desires a faster milk circulation

Even really young babies can be fast to see that managing, kneading the breast, etc. can cause an additional let-down, and can facilitate a faster, easier milk flow. Some babies become restless with the slower milk circulation following the initial fast circulation at let-down. This may or may not be related to a sluggish let-down.

When a feeding begins at the breast there are drops of milk. Then when the initial let-down happens (a number of seconds to a minute into the feeding), the milk circulation accelerate a fair bit. At that time it may drip extremely rapidly, squirt, or even spray. Some minutes later it slows once again and the baby needs to continue to draw vigorously in order to elicit more let-downs. This pattern can continue through successive, multiple let-downs as long as the baby is continuing to nurse vigorously. Eventually, baby will learn that the flow will pick back up once again if she’ll just continue to intensely suck/swallow.

With bottle feeding, the flow is immediate and constant. The baby is required to work little. When a baby has had a bottle, especially a lot of bottles, she might start to choose the ease of bottle-feeding over the work of breastfeeding. She might end up being frustrated at the breast after the first let-down happens and the circulation of milk starts to slow.

If baby is getting bottles you may think about putting them away, at least for a while. When you must use a bottle, only use a newborn nipple for as long as baby will tolerate it so that she never gets a really quick flow of milk from the bottle, but needs to work a little bit more to get the milk.

Sometimes babies of mommies with oversupply or quick let-down will likewise get very used to the fast flow and item when it generally slows someplace between 3 weeks to 3 months.

It can be valuable to do some breast compression when this fussiness begins or right prior to you anticipate it to. This will help speed up the milk circulation again. When compression stops assisting, try switching baby to the opposite when she begins to difficulty and back and forth once again (after utilizing compression) as you need to.

Baby is done nursing for the minute

If baby is fussing after she’s been nursing for a while, and you have actually ruled out other causes, she may remain in the process of altering her nursing pattern. Babies end up being really efficient at the breast with development and maturity. They can milk the breast in a lot less time per feeding session than they required in the past. Baby’s aggravation might simply be a sign that she’s ended up and wants to move on.

On a similar note, a periodic baby will simply want to draw at the end of a nursing session and the circulation of milk with let-down irritates her. You may see if offering her a finger or pacifier (if baby is older than 4-6 weeks) to suck on during these times seems to help.

Baby prefers one side

Sometimes babies will refuse or fuss at a breast when the let-down is slower or too powerful, or the supply a bit lower. They in turn will choose the side which pulls down more/less quickly and where the supply is more abundant. See also: Lopsided! What can I do?

Fussy at night

Many young babies have the tendency to pull off and fuss at the breast at night. See the short article Cluster Feeding and Fussy Evenings.


Teething can cause fussy nursing habits, as some babies experience gum discomfort with sucking. Baby might start to nurse, however then manage and cry or fuss and not wish to nurse any longer. See Teething to learn more and pointers.


Frequent pulling off the breast can be a symptom of thrush.

Stuffy nose

A stuffy nose can cause picky nursing habits. If your baby has a stuffy nose and is having a tough time breathing and nursing at the exact same time, see colds & congestion.

Allergy or food sensitivity

Some babies with allergic reactions or food level of sensitivities display fussy nursing habits. Frequently when there is a level of sensitivity to something in mama’s diet, baby will concern the breast hungry but when she tastes/smells something in the milk that will cause her GI distress, she pulls off, bats her head back and forth, etc. Level of sensitivities to foods in mother’s diet are rare. If this is the issue, you will most likely notification other symptoms, such as excessive spitting up or vomiting, colic, diarrhea, rash, relentless congestion or runny nose, or extreme gas. More details on food level of sensitivities in babies and connect to more allergy info can be discovered in my short article Dairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies.

Low milk supply

Low milk supply can cause baby to be fussy at the breast. If you feel that your milk supply might be low, see this page for more information: Increasing low milk supply.


Reflux can result in baby being picky at the breast. See Reflux and Breastfeeding to learn more.


Tongue-Tie can result in baby being picky at the breast. See Breastfeeding a Baby with Tongue-Tie (Resources) for more details.


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