My Baby Wouldn’t Stay Latched For A Full Feed Until I Tried This


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Oh, the joys of breastfeeding. Yes, that was partially sarcastic. Breastfeeding is amazing – no doubt about it – but it can be extremely challenging if you’re not prepared. And making sure your baby is fully fed during his/her designated feed is a HUGE part of getting your baby on a good sleep schedule, and just a healthy routine in general.

A quick side note for our tribe: We are all about mutually beneficial relationships here at the Newlymoms. So naturally, this article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you were to use the links provided and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). We only promote products we use, love, and/or fully support — it’s a win, win, win! If you have any questions about what we use, love and/or support, please reach out to us via our contact page.

The Babywise Schedule

If you know anything about us Newlymoms, you know we’re huge proponents of the Babywise method. So when we refer to “a good sleep schedule” or a “healthy routine,” we mean Babywise. To give you a SUPER brief rundown of what the Babywise schedule is here are some bullet points. If you are familiar with and understand the importance of the Babywise method, you can skip to the next section.

On Becoming Babywise

A Brief Summary

1.Babywise is centered around developing a good routine (aka feeding and sleeping habits) for your child. This is primarily done through a methodology called Parent-Directed Feeding (PDF). PDF is the midpoint between hyper-scheduling where time is the only factor (aka we only eat at this time regardless of whether you’re hungry or not, because you need to be on a freaking schedule dang it!) and the “I meet your needs whenever you tell me you need them” approach (aka the just born infant knows best what he or she needs and mom has no ability or ground to use her input and keenly developed/designed intuition in caring for her child). To put it simply, PDF takes into account both the mother’s ability to manage, care for and properly guide her child into a schedule that is best to provide as much sleep as baby needs AND the growing, evolving and ever-changing needs of said infant which may vary in different daily circumstances and general stages of life.

2. The general structure for the Babywise schedule is FEED-WAKE-SLEEP. The baby eats, has a period of wake time and then naps. This is extremely important because it ensures the baby does not get in the habit of being fed to sleep, only to wake very soon after because not enough time was spent being stimulated. It also allows the baby to learn to fall asleep on his/her own, with minimal intervention from the parents. In essence, the point of FEED-WAKE-SLEEP schedule is to ensure the baby gets a full feed at the scheduled time, spend a sufficient amount of time awake/being stimulated, and gets a full nap/night-time sleep as often as possible. Having a structure like this allows the parent to effectively rule out any factors that may be causing baby not to get a full nap/night-time sleep. Without a structure like this, mom would just be guessing.

Sleepy Baby
Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

3. This FEED-WAKE-SLEEP schedule is modified as baby grows to allow for decreased number of feedings/nap times and longer wake times. It also paves way for babies to sleep through the night fully by the time they’re 7-8 weeks old. It allows hunger and sleep patterns to stabilize, as guided by the well-equipped parent.

Getting baby on an eat-wake-sleep schedule (AKA the Babywise Schedule) is key. Subscribe to the Newlymoms and get a FREE Printable Babywise Schedule HERE!

Free babywise schedule

The Importance Of A Full Feeding

As you can tell from the brief description above, ensuring baby has a full feed at the designated feeding times is extremely important as it can make or break the delicate balance of the FEED-WAKE-SLEEP cycle. There are also many other reasons why full feedings are important such as:

  • “Snack feedings” or “cluster feedings” typically mean baby is only getting the lighter foremilk and not the calorie-dense hind-milk. This can lead to insufficient weight gain, poor sleep habits, greater potential for other health risks and general fatigue (for mama and baby)
  • This perpetuates the cycle of poor breast milk supply or the sense that you’re “never producing enough” because:

“The key to efficient milk production for full feeding is the combination of proper breast stimulation with an appropriate amount of time between feedings. Breast stimulation refers to the intensity of a baby’s suck, which is driven by the baby’s hunger. The strength of this drive is directly related to the time needed for the milk to digest and for absorption to take place. Typically, infants fed on a 2 1/2-3 hour routine have a stable digestive metabolism and demand more milk than babies who periodically snack throughout the day.”

On Becoming Babywise
Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash

The Characteristics Of A Full Feeding

But how do you tell if baby has gotten a full feed, especially as a first-time mom?

Taken directly from On Becoming Babywise, the more obvious characteristics of a full feeding (and great baseline targets to aim for) are as follows:

  • A sufficient amount of time to receive a full feeding: 10-15 minutes per breast or 20-30 minutes for formula-fed babies is the minimum
  • Hearing the swallowing of milk
  • Baby pulling away from the breast or bottle when satiated
  • The baby burping well after feeding
  • The baby napping well

Now, obviously every baby is going to be different. And you WILL get to know your babies unique patterns and cues, but for starters, using the above the characteristics should get you somewhere near the end zone.

Don’t forget to subscribe for your FREE Printable Babywise Schedule!Free babywise schedule


When My Baby Wouldn’t Stay Latched …

And onto what you’re all here for – my life-changing discovery.

After doing everything I knew to do to get Baby K to stay latched for a full feeding to no avail, my Token Supermom Friend (TSF) suggested that it may be due to my let-down reflex.

Let me set the stage a little bit. Baby K was 6-ish weeks old and a pro at latching on within a few minutes of initiating feeds. He would stay perfectly latched for the first 7 minutes or so. Then all of sudden, he’d pull away and I couldn’t get him to latch on no matter what I tried. He started waking early from his naps and giving early hunger cues (before his next scheduled feed). And he would eat more when offered after the next shortened nap cycle only to de-latch early again!

The Let-Down Reflex

After talking with my TSF, she had the brilliant revelation that it’s probably my let-down reflex. She explained to me that my letdown reflex was probably extremely strong and causing Baby K to work harder to get the initial foremilk down his throat without choking. In other words, the strength of my initial milk coming out was overwhelming Baby K. So after a few minutes of that he’d get too exhausted to continue and pull away. This would satisfy his current hunger state but wouldn’t be enough to get him through the subsequent 2 ½ hour window of wake time and nap. So he’d wake early from his nap, show his hunger cues, I’d feed him – only to have the same thing happen again.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The Solution

Drum roll please! The solution … pump for 3-5 minutes before each feed to allow the initial phase of spraying milk transition to the slower dribble which would be much easier for Baby K to handle.

Yes, this was a HUGE COMMITMENT. Breastfeeding is hard enough in and of itself. Now you want me to pump before every single feed? Well, yes. The issue was immediately rectified. Baby K would stay latched for 15-20 minutes on each side, and would make it through easy-peasy until the next cycle of FEED-WAKE-SLEEP started. He also slept wayyyy longer through the night because he was getting the calorie-rich hind-milk and not just the watery foremilk.

Other bonuses to this solution:

  • Milk Supply was never a problem because my breasts were stimulated properly to produce for full feedings (and then some)
  • I was able to unintentionally build a freezer stash of milk without needing to set aside a designated pumping session for that sole purpose
  • I rarely experienced clogged milk ducts using this combination – which I was running into every 2-3 days prior
  • Ironically, I actually had more time to “accomplish things” because Baby K was no longer waking early from his naps
  • I only ended up having to do it for 2-3 weeks until Baby K was ready to take on the monsoon of my letdown reflex as a super-grown 8-week old

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Newlymoms and get your FREE Babywise Printable Schedule HERE

Free babywise schedule


Happy feeding!

Also – be sure to check out our other resources on Breastfeeding and Babywise below:

What problems have you run into with full feedings? What were your solutions?

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