5 Reasons Your Baby Keeps Unlatching (But Is Still Hungry)

Wondering why your baby keeps unlatching but is still hungry and crying? Here are 5 possible reasons why this might be happening and how to ensure your baby is getting enough milk.

Baby Keeps Unlatching But Still Hungry

Unlatching would be fine if it wasn’t happening so often at each feeding. My newborn was constantly hungry even though he was the one unlatching himself. He’d also fuss and seem unsettled, as if gulping and gasping for air.

Having to re-latch him tested your patience, making breastfeeding that much more challenging than it already was. I didn’t want to give up, but I’d find myself in tears every time I had to feed him.

If you can relate, rest assured that you’re not alone. I learned that it didn’t have to be this way for the rest of our breastfeeding journey. Let’s take a look at a few reasons your baby might be unlatching so often, and solutions you can try to turn things around:

1. Fast letdown

Does your breast milk seem to gush out all at once, especially in the beginning? This is pretty common for many moms, especially if you haven’t nursed or pumped in several hours.

You can imagine how a fast flow of milk can make for an uncomfortable and even frustrating feeding for your baby. She likely unlatches so she doesn’t have to suck all the milk that’s coming out at once.

If you suspect that a fast let-down could be the culprit, try pumping a few minutes before feeding. This helps express the fore milk, which might not be filling her up as much as the hind milk would.

You can also try nursing on a recliner and placing your baby on top of you. Work against gravity to prevent the milk from gushing out. Let any excess milk she doesn’t swallow simply spill out the sides of her mouth (just have a towel handy).

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2. Slow milk flow

If a fast milk flow isn’t the problem, perhaps a slow flow of milk could be the issue. She could be tugging at your nipples in the hopes of getting more milk, especially if she’s been nursing for an hour and is still hungry.

One simple remedy is to switch sides. If she was fine nursing on one side but suddenly starts unlatching, see if she stays put if you place her on the other side. There might be more milk that flows more freely than the one she’s been nursing on.

Another option is to do breast compressions on the breast she’s nursing on. Rub the top of your breast as if you’re pushing the milk down toward the nipple.

Baby Nursing for an Hour and STILL Hungry

3. Gas

Many parents point to gas as one of the biggest issues with unlatching. Your baby might need to burp, expel gas, or even poop, making for an uncomfortable nursing session.

Try a few baby burping tricks throughout the feeding, not just toward the end. If he unlatches, use that as an opportunity to see if he might burp. Repeat when you switch sides, and of course after he’s done feeding.

Experiment with different burping positions, and do bicycle kicks and other leg exercises throughout the day to get him to fart as well. I also used gas drops and gripe water to help with gas pain, which seemed to help.

Baby Burping Tricks

4. Stuffy nose

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Try drinking a glass of water with your nose plugged and you can see how difficult it can be to breastfeed with a stuffy nose. If your baby is sick and can’t breathe easily, this could make her want to unlatch to catch her breath.

To make breastfeeding easier:

  • Feed her at an incline so that any congestion and mucus she has can move downward.
  • Use nasal saline drops or a suction tool to clear her nose.
  • Run a humidifier or vaporizer in the room.

5. Reflux


Reflux can often affect the way babies nurse, including unlatching, coughing, and spitting up. Reflux is also a likely culprit if she fusses after you lay her down after a feeding or if arches her back.

To ease the symptoms, try to keep her in an upright or angled position as you feed, and hold her upright for about 30 minutes after she’s done. Pat her gently while holding her upright, as opposed to rough bouncing that could cause her to spit up even more.

And of course, reach out to your pediatrician, as she may be able to offer medicine that can help, especially if your baby’s behavior doesn’t seem to improve.

Conclusion

As if breastfeeding weren’t challenging enough, your baby keeps unlatching (even though she seems hungry and wants more). At least now you know a few likely reasons this happens and what to do about each one. You can nurse her for a long time, and with only having to unlatch once—at the end of the session, of course.

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