What to Do When Your Baby Wants to Breastfeed Constantly

Struggling when your baby wants to breastfeed constantly but falls asleep or is still hungry? See why this is normal and what you can do.

Baby Wants to Breastfeed Constantly“Maybe he’s hungry.”

The dreaded three words. I’d shoot dagger eyes at anyone who suggested feeding my baby during those first few weeks of bringing him home.

You see, one reason breastfeeding moms are especially exhausted is because we’re the only ones who can nurse the baby.

Anyone can change diapers or rock them to sleep. But we’re the only ones who can provide the nourishment they need.

I know all too well how isolating it can feel when your baby wants to breastfeed constantly, on top of not sleeping well.

Rest assured, you’re not alone, friend. How you feel now won’t go on forever. I’m not talking when your baby will be a toddler—I’m talking even just days or weeks from now.

Because when you’re in that moment, it’s easy to feel like there’s no end in sight to the constant nursing. But take a look at the tips below on how to make this stage go much smoother. As one parent said:

“I needed to hear this. At the age of 30 and mom of 5, this baby is very different. This article is a very great reminder that this time is short lived, before I know it, she’ll be as old as her oldest sibling.”

Feed on demand (don’t worry, it won’t be forever)

I made the mistake of trying to implement a feeding schedule. I was so sick and tired of my baby nursing for an hour (and still hungry after the fact), especially when it seemed like I had just fed him so recently.

That is, until his pediatrician recommended that I feed on demand. “Babies usually cry because they’re hungry,” she said. While they sometimes do cry because of a dirty diaper or uncomfortable clothing, more often than not, they cry because they want to eat.

Rest assured, feeding on demand won’t lead to bad habits you later have to undo. Your baby will eventually settle into a pattern, even if you feed her often in the earlier weeks. When you’re struggling through those constant feedings, remind yourself that this is temporary.

Baby Nursing for an Hour and STILL Hungry

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Empty each breast

Breastmilk comes in stages. During the first few minutes, your newborn is drinking the fore milk (or the lighter, more watery part of the milk). Afterward, she drinks the hind milk (the fattier, more filling part).

If she’s only nursing a few minutes on each side, she might not be getting the hind milk, making her hungrier sooner than later.

Instead, make sure she’s emptying the entire breast so she gets both kinds of milk from each side. This will help fill her up so she’s able to go longer between feeds.

A simple way to make sure she empties the breast? Don’t let her sleep on the job. Feed her after she wakes up, not before she’s about to sleep, so that she doesn’t doze off during a feeding.

Besides making sure she’s emptying the breast completely, offer her both of them as well. That way, not only is she getting both kinds of milk, but she’s also getting double the serving.

It’s normal for breastfed babies to nurse often

Did you know that the day your baby is born, his stomach was likely the size of a cherry? By day three, it grows to the size of a walnut, able to take in one additional ounce of milk. And by one week, it grows to the size of an apricot, ready to take in two ounces of milk.

At such small sizes, you can see why your newborn is constantly feeding.

Unlike formula, breast milk also digests easily, which means it passes through her already tiny stomach quickly. No wonder she needs to feed frequently.

Whenever you’ve just about had it with having to nurse her yet again, remember that it’s normal for her to feed that often.

Check if your baby is drinking or sucking

While you want to feed on demand, you may not want to be your baby’s “pacifier” the entire day. You see, there’s a difference between him actually drinking milk or simply sucking for comfort. And unlike milk or formula in bottles, there’s not an easy way to tell if he’s doing one and not the other.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to check:

  • Look at his throat to see if he’s actually swallowing. Swallowing makes his throat move as he passes the milk from mouth to stomach. Sucking, on the other hand, only needs his mouth to move.
  • Listen for a swallowing sound. You’ll likely hear a small swallowing sound as he takes in the milk, as opposed to simply sucking with his mouth.
  • Keep your baby awake. Prevent him from falling asleep while nursing to ensure that he’s eating during this time.

Get more tips on how to tell if baby is hungry or wants comfort.

How to Tell If Baby Is Hungry or Wants Comfort

See frequent nursing as a good thing

One of the most powerful principles I’ve learned is the simple act of choosing where to put your attention.

Yes, your baby wants to breastfeed constantly — you may not be able to control that. But what you can control is how you respond. One option might be to feel resentful or see this as another nuisance. Another one is to see frequent nursing as a good thing.

Maybe this is his way of making sure your body is producing enough milk. So much so that frequent nursing isn’t so much a hassle as it is a pretty efficient way of increasing your milk supply. Perhaps he’s about to reach a new milestone that you’re more than ready to welcome. Or this could be his way of stretching his nighttime sleep.

Frequent nursing—however time-consuming it can be in the moment—can often be a sign of a good thing… if you’re willing to see it that way.

Use a pacifier

I was adamant about not using a pacifier, what with nipple confusion adding yet another obstacle that might make breastfeeding harder. I also knew parents with toddlers too attached to pacifiers, or of newborns waking up screaming after theirs had fallen out.

Except I later learned that my fears were bigger than they needed to be.

For one thing, if your baby wants to breastfeed constantly, he’s probably at a point where he won’t be confused between pacifier, breast, or bottle. If you want to make certain though, WebMD recommends that four weeks is a good time to introduce either a pacifier or a bottle.

Second, even if you do have to wean him off of pacifiers down the line, at least you’d have saved yourself hours of lost sleep before then. Because you can always sleep train him out of these habits—there’s no need to suffer all these months in the meantime.

Find a comfortable feeding position

While you can’t control how often your newborn feeds, you can control how comfortable and convenient you make these feedings. Sometimes we feel “stuck” in our positions, unable to move around like the rest of the family, making us even more frustrated.

Start by using a good feeding pillow and sitting with good back support. Keep often-used items within arm’s reach, from your phone to your water bottle. Use it as an opportunity to watch a movie, listen to a podcast, or talk to a friend.

And create several feeding stations throughout the house. That way, you won’t feel alone and isolated in, say, your bedroom, while everyone else is enjoying dinner on the other side of the house.

And find entertainment! I’d hook up the earphones and watch all sorts of episodes, from dramas to comedies. They made nursing sessions more bearable, and kept me from feeling like I was just “sitting there,” idling away. Not keen on television or movies? Use the time to read a book, listen to a podcast, or flip through magazines.

It’s okay to supplement

There, I said it.

I’m a big proponent of breastfeeding… but only if mom is happy. With my eldest, I was so bent on breastfeeding that I’d sometimes feel like a failure or even resent my baby for his frequent feedings.

And sure, I was able to get to the place where breastfeeding became easy, and I’m grateful and proud I was able to exclusively breastfeed him for a whole year.

But then I had my twins a few years later.

And at the hospital, one of my twins was born so small that he wouldn’t have been able to go home with us if he didn’t gain enough weight.

Between supplementing with formula and bringing him home, I didn’t even bat an eyelash.

Feeding him formula on top of breastmilk allowed him to gain the weight he needed to and come home with his twin brother. Formula also saved my sanity—and allowed my husband to help more directly—during a few middle-of-the-night feedings.

In other words, yes, breastfeed as much as you can, even past the discomfort, knowing that frequent feedings mean a steady milk supply.

But if you find yourself miserable, or, like me, in the middle of a not-so-hard decision, it’s nice to know you have other options, too.


It’s exhausting when your baby wants to breastfeed constantly, but as you can see, not impossible.

Having the right mindset allows you to feed on demand and see frequent nursing as a good thing. Check if the baby is actually swallowing—because if he’s simply sucking, offering a pacifier can free you up.

Then, remember that it’s normal for breastfed babies to nurse often, and that you can always rely on entertainment to make the time pass quickly. Reassure yourself that he’ll eventually learn how to stop cluster feeding all night when the need decreases.

And finally, don’t beat yourself up if you need to supplement, especially if you’re downright miserable about the frequent feedings.

If I could go back, I’d likely tell my earlier self to go easy on myself. That it’s okay to feed frequently, that it’s temporary, and that I’m doing a good job despite how I might feel.

And that the next time someone suggests that my baby might be hungry, I won’t shoot dagger eyes their way for saying so.

Newborn Cluster Feeding All Night

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  1. I needed to hear this. At the age of 30 and mom of 5, this baby is very different. This article is a very great reminder that this time is short lived, before I know it, she’ll be as old as her oldest sibling

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      I’m glad the article resonated with you, mama <3 Time definitely flies with kids, doesn't it?

  2. What do I do if my baby doesn’t want to give up breastfeeding at bedtime and naps?

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Delani! I’d start with naps at first, and one nap at that at a time, leaving bedtime for last. You can also experiment with different bottles or sippy cups to see if she’ll take to one more than the rest. And see if you can get another adult to feed her during that time instead of you feeding her a bottle. She might get confused as to why you’re there but not nursing her as usual.