Screaming and Crying While Breastfeeding

(Originally posted on my former and now defunct Custom Made Milk blog February 27 2009. This post has been updated many times since then.)

There are many reasons why your baby might scream and cry while nursing. Here are some of the more common reasons, and the things that you can do to help keep your sanity.


If baby sputters and coughs before pulling off and crying, if baby spits milk all over the place, if you feel letdown immediately before your baby starts to scream, or if you frequently leak or spray milk, you might have hyperactive letdown or fast letdown.

Try nursing uphill. Lay on your back and position baby so that baby is nursing on top of you (make sure baby’s position allows him to breathe) If mom has hyperactive letdown AND baby has reflux you will want to sit baby up and make sure that baby’s belly isn’t in a squished position. Otherwise laying down/reclining in a cradle position is usually fine. Once you feel letdown, or once you’re well into the nursing session you can try sitting up. Try to avoid nursing uphill for the full session as it can cause clogged ducts or mastitis.

Fast letdown/fast flow is often accompanied by foremilk imbalance, which is covered further down.

In severe cases of fast letdown mom might find it helpful to pull baby off the breast when she feels letdown, and let the milk spray into a towel until the strongest part of the letdown is over, and then put baby back on the breast. If this doesn’t help mom might consider wearing chilled cabbage leaves in her bra for the half hour before a feeding. (Keep in mind that this can decrease supply so if you have fast letdown not accompanied by over-supply do not do this.)

If mom has oversupply or fast letdown she should examine her diet and medications to see if anything is known to increase lactation. Oatmeal in the morning, or certain medications, or other foods can cause hyperlactation and oversupply issues.


Babies often get frustrated with mom’s letdown when it’s slower than what they want and they’re hungry, or when they’ve finished one breast and still want more milk but don’t know how to say “ok mom, switch me to the other side!”. They might be going through a growth spurt and be frustrated with the fact that they have to nurse frequently to increase supply.. (Growth spurting babies also often cry for no reason) Or they might have gotten used to the fast flow of bottles at daycare or when dad gives baby a bottle occasionally at night.

Switch sides. Switching sides frequently does three things: It triggers faster letdown than sucking on one side would.. It lets baby get some milk from Side B while Side A is “refilling”.. AND it signals to the body that it needs to produce MORE MILK NOW. Frequent side switching is one way to increase supply. This is why in the early days of breastfeeding you frequently hear someone say ‘Nurse 10 minutes on one side, then 10 minutes on the other side”.

Then when baby pulls off Side B and screams? Switch back to Side A. During some growth spurts I was switching sides every 15 seconds. My son would suck three times, want to switch, suck two times, want to switch, etc. As long as baby is willing to latch onto the other side for even ONE SUCK, keep switching. You can massage the other breast while baby is nursing on one side to encourage faster letdown. Or you can do breast compressions on the side that baby is nursing on, to encourage faster flow of milk.

This pattern usually happens most often when baby has just woken up and is VERY hungry, or during the evening hours (also known as “witching hours” where baby is naturally cantankerous and mom’s milk supply is naturally at its lowest point of the day.

Do Not Supplement During These Periods. Supplementing when you are experiencing problems for these reasons will make them far, far worse. If you give a bottle to a baby that prefers a bottle, sometimes baby will eventually just reject the breast altogether. If you give a bottle to a baby going through a growth spurt you are telling your breasts to make LESS when they need to make MORE. If baby has never had a bottle and is frustrated with slow letdown already? He’ll be FURIOUS with it after he’s experienced the fast flow of the bottle.


All babies have some degree of reflux. Spitting up IS reflux. Reflux is only a problem when it is accompanied by pain or damage.

If your baby sleeps better on their belly or when elevated, frequently spits up and screams just after spitting up, is not gaining weight, has bad breath (normal baby breath smells like plain milk yogurt and never really “bad”, GERD breath is a stronger smell) etc. your baby might have GERD. Reflux can sometimes happen without spitting up and is known as “Silent reflux” where the spitup happens but is swallowed before it exits the baby’s mouth. Sometimes babies with GERD will over-eat or under-eat.

If you suspect GERD, have your pediatrician confirm the diagnosis. You might need to put your baby on anti-reflux medications or be more vigilant about keeping your baby upright. (Not just after feedings but throughout the day)

If your baby has GERD, frequent smaller feedings, burping frequently and making sure that your baby is feeding upright can be helpful. Practice with upright feeding positions such as sitting/standing with support. See if this changes your baby’s screaming at all.

Infant probiotics are sometimes helpful for babies that suffer from GERD or other problems. Make sure you get a hypoallergenic infant probiotic, some probiotics contain milk or shellfish in trace amounts which can cause problems for sensitive babies.

Another thing you should look into if your baby has GERD is the possibility that it’s food-triggered. Consider an elimination diet where you eliminate common allergens from your diet.  (see Food Allergy/Sensitivity below)


Our milk is the purest, most hypoallergenic perfect substance known to mankind… However, things that we eat DO pass into our milk in teensie tinsey trace amounts. Most breastfeeding moms can eat whatever they want whenever they want and their baby will have no problem. Sometimes, though, something we eat will trigger a reaction in our baby. Sometimes that reaction is screaming while nursing or shortly after nursing.

A food sensitivity can be difficult to figure out. It takes 3-6 weeks for our milk to be “rid” of something. So if we eliminate milk, it might take us 3-6 weeks to see an improvement if it was milk that was triggering the problem. That’s fine if it WAS milk that was triggering the issue, but what if it was something else? Because of this, it’s best to eliminate the most likely culprits all at once, wait three to six weeks and slowly re-add them to your diet to see what it was that was causing your child’s problem. Sometimes it’s multiple things!

The most common problems are: milk/dairy, soy, nuts, caffeine (including chocolate), strawberries, and eggs (eggs, nuts and strawberries are foods that doctors recommend you wait a while before introducing as a solid food. These items can also cause reactions in a breastfed infant) Typically if you eliminate the items on that list, you’ll see an improvement in your child. Make sure you read the ingredients of foods. Sometimes milk is hiding behind “Casein” or “Whey”, or is listed as butter, cheese, etc.

If the first round of an elimination diet doesn’t solve the problems and you might have to eliminate more foods from your diet or try going on a “hypoallergenic” or “less likely to cause allergies” diet. Doctor Sears has an excellent article on elimination diets: (click through to get past the ad.) If your baby’s problems are severe or you are at the end of your rope, you can immediately jump into the full elimination diet for the fastest results.

Remember, if your baby is sensitive to foods that you eat, continuing to breastfeed is the BEST THING YOU CAN DO. Breast milk helps seal the baby’s gut and prevents many food problems from becoming life-long or more severe allergies. Introducing hypoallergenic formula might be tempting… Resist the temptation. It only postpones dealing with the problem. Continue to breastfeed while waiting for the dietary changes to work. Even more severe allergy symptoms such as traces of blood in the baby’s stool are not immediately dangerous to the infant so long as the baby is not becoming anemic, losing weight, or bleeding in large amounts. If your baby has severe allergy signs, go to your pediatrician immediately and request a referral to an allergy specialist and a lactation consultant that has experience dealing with allergies. The need to introduce formula is RARE, and even if this happens you can pump and dump and move back to breastmilk after you find out what was causing the problem and eliminate it.

Keep in mind that it’s not just what we eat, but what we drink, what supplements we take, and what drugs we use. Babies are frequently sensitive to caffeine, nicotine, herbal supplements, medications, teas, and other things that we take into our body. Remember to take those items into consideration when you suspect a food sensitivity or allergy.

Also keep in mind that the things we give our child can sometimes compound the problems. Your infant might be sensitive to the dye in his painkiller, for example. Or if you’re giving him gripe water or teething tablets, he might be sensitive to something in one of those things. Some infant probiotics contain milk or shellfish in trace amounts.


Sometimes a baby might not like a particular position. Maybe they don’t feel supported enough, or maybe they feel cramped. If baby screams in one position, try a different one. Try the football hold, the reverse clutch, the clutch, the cradle, the dangle, the nursing-uphill, the sitting up, standing up.. Invent new positions, try those. As long as baby can comfortably latch onto the breast and is supported and able to breathe and swallow, it’s a position for breastfeeding.


If baby has upper or lower gas, baby might not want to nurse. Dangling baby belly-down over your knee (while you’re sititng up) or hipbone (while you’re laying on your side) and vigorously rubbing his back.. Laying baby on his back and pushing his legs toward his chest, bicycling his legs and alternating them, standing baby up with your hands under his armpits and his head supported, sitting baby up with your hand across his belly and leaning him forward against your hand, draping baby over your shoulder and patting/rubbing his back.. All of these methods can help deal with gas. If baby’s gas is severe and frequent, look into infant probiotics and/or infant gas drops such as Mylicon. Something you eat might also be making baby gassy. While the old story of “whatever you eat that makes you gassy will make your baby gassy” isn’t exactly true, I did find that certain foods that I ate made my baby gassy. For me it was brussel sprouts, broccoli and beans (for my first baby), dairy (for my second baby) and nothing at all for my third (She was gassy no matter what).

Fenugreek is notorious for two things: Increasing mom’s milk supply and making both mom and baby gassy. Most moms and babies are fine with fenugreek, but in some it will create explosive bowel movements and gassiness. If you’re taking fenugreek, look into an alternative supplement. The first that springs to mind is “More Milk”, a supplement made by Motherlove. Unlike Motherlove’s “More Milk Plus” which contains fenugreek, “More Milk” is fenugreek-free and may be the solution to your baby’s gassiness.


Another cause of gassiness and crying  is hypersupply or foremilk imbalance. Foremilk is quickly digested and causes gassiness and diarrhea. If baby gets too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk it requently results in gassiness and explosive green poops. The solution is to “block nurse”. Usually we use both breasts with each feeding, or alternate one breast per feeding. Block feedings are where you use one breast for a block of time.

A “three feed block” looks like this: If you feed at 10AM, 12PM and then 1:30PM you will use ONE breast for all of those feedings. Then for the next three feeds you’ll use the other breast.

A “three hour block” looks like this: From 8-11AM you will use one side. From 11AM-2PM you would use the other side. Some women need to do 4, 6, or even 8 hour blocks to see a reduction in supply.

This can cause engorgement in the unused breast. Use a breast pump or hand expression to express JUST ENOUGH milk to relieve discomfort and engorgement. Pumping off too much milk will keep your supply high. The goal of block feeding is to decrease your supply so that your baby can get the “hindmilk”. Once your baby’s gassiness/fussiness decreases go back to your usual feeding patterns or use one breast per feeding unless the baby pulls off and requests the second breast.

Some moms might need to pump the unused side a bit more at the end of the block and then wean off of the pump otherwise the baby has issues taking the unused side for the first few feeds. I had to pump 3oz off my unused side at the end of each block. I gradually weaned that down to 2oz and then not pumping at all. Then once the block feeding worked and baby wanted to feed off of both sides again, I eliminated block feeding completely.

If mom has oversupply or fast letdown she should examine her diet and medications to see if anything is known to increase lactation. Oatmeal in the morning, or certain medications, or other foods can cause hyperlactation and oversupply issues.


If baby seems to be popping off to look at interesting things around them, baby might be hungry but just too  interested in what is going on around them. This is common in older infants that have discovered the world but that haven’t figured out how to nurse and take the world in at the same time. Try moving someplace more quiet/less distracting, putting a barrier between baby and the world, or removing a cover-up that is blocking baby’s view. Try distracting the baby with a nursing necklace or a toy or a little book, or by talking to the baby and playing games with the baby while nursing.

You can also try walking around with baby while baby nurses. If baby’s bored sometimes walking or dancing with them while they nurse is what they need to settle down and latch on.


If baby is too hot or too cold, baby might scream instead of nursing. Check your baby’s hands, are they cold? Skin to skin contact is the best way to solve this. Strip baby down to his diaper and take off your shirt/bra and snuggle under a blanket with baby until he’s warm. Check your baby for signs that he’s too warm- nursing can work up a LOT of heat in a little guy! My son would become overheated very easily and even in the dead of winter he preferred to nurse in just a short-sleeved onesie and socks. During the summer it was hard to convince him to nurse when it was hot out and I’d use a damp washcloth to wipe his face and his pulse points (inside of elbows, inside of wrists, inside of ankles/knees, neck) and this would help him cool down enough to nurse. Make sure that you keep baby out of the sun! My middle child wanted to be warm when he nursed and loved to be inside of a 100% cotton sleeper covered by a 100% cotton blanket. My third child was happy as long as she wasn’t sweating or very cold.


If your baby is overtired, often he will not want to nurse or will be too upset to nurse. Often an overtired baby will want to nurse for comfort, but will be too distraught to do so. Try dancing with your baby in a quiet dimly lit room and making shushing sounds. Sometimes nursing while dancing can help. Sometimes putting your baby in a baby carrier or the stroller and going for a walk will help the overtired baby fall asleep. My daughter when she was overtired needed to be skin to skin side-laying in our bed tucked under the sheets. My middle child would not nurse when overtired and would need to be bounced to sleep. He’d usually wake up fifteen minutes later and nurse ravenously and then fall back to sleep again.


It’s common for a breastfed baby to either pee or poo while breastfeeding. Some babies find the sensation to be uncomfortable and want to be changed immediately. Check and see if your baby needs a diaper change.


Sometimes baby will want to comfort suck but doesn’t want milk. This is usually not a problem as most babies quickly discover how to suckle “shallowly” in a way that does not bring milk out. If mom has hyperactive letdown, or if baby can’t quite figure out how to suck without getting milk, the result can be one pissed off baby. For some babies pacifiers are helpful. Try not to introduce a pacifier before 6 weeks. If you do introduce a pacifier make sure that you use it only sparringly, offer it only after baby has eaten, and be on the lookout for signs of nipple confusion. My daughter would not take a pacifier and when I had oversupply I would sometimes have to pump out an ounce of milk or so and then let her nurse for comfort. (This increases your milk supply so avoid pumping like this if you can, and combine it with block feeding to decrease supply.)


Anyone can be sensitive to smells, and newborns are particularly prone to becoming overwhelmed by smells. If mom is using a new perfume or lotion, or if mom’s clothes smell different than usual it can either upset baby because mom doesn’t smell familiar and comforting, or it can irritate baby’s nose.

Try washing your clothes with the same hypoallergenic detergent that you use to wash your baby’s clothes, eliminate any perfumes and use your baby’s shampoo to wash your hair and skin for a few days. See if that improves the problem at all. Make sure you never use any soap on your breasts as it can deplete your breasts natural antibacterial oils and cause breast infections as well as be upsetting to your baby. Use warm water only.


Babies are experts at picking up on stress. If mom is stressed, baby might be reacting to that. Try taking a deep breath, and letting go of whatever is stressing you. Listen to soothing music, relax, imbibe in something that soothes you. If all else fails, give yourself permission to eat that snack that you know you shouldn’t eat but that always makes you feel better. Or tell yourself that later that night you’re going to take a long warm bubble bath. Yoga breathing or deep breathing can help calm mom, and making low deep sounds such as “ohm” or humming can help soothe baby. If you’re really really having a hard time ask someone else to hold the baby, take a few minutes to breathe, and then try again.


If your baby has a UTI, sometimes this can cause distress while nursing. Babies often pee as they nurse. Try nursing your baby naked and diaper-free on top of a waterproof pad and see if the screaming coincides with urination at all. Sometimes the only symptom of a UTI is discomfort while nursing. Some babies will only scream while peeing if they’re nursing. Something about the feeding + pain is more agitating to them than the pain alone.


If mom has a breast problem, sometimes the baby can become upset while nursing. A plugged duct can work its way out and taste awful. Mastitis can cause the milk to have a slightly metallic taste, or engorgement can cause the baby to have a hard time latching on.

The solution for plugged ducts, engorgement and mastitis are: Nurse, and nurse more often. If baby is seriously freaking out about the problem and you know that you have mastitis, engorgement or a plugged duct, try pumping for either 5 minutes or 1 ounce, and then nursing again.


If baby’s gums are sore from teething, sometimes he’ll pop off and scream because he can’t get a comfortable latch. Try different positions to see if there’s another position that doesn’t put pressure on your baby’s gums. You can offer an iced teether or washcloth for 10 minutes before feeding, or rub a tiny amount of baby orajel or another gum-number on the problem spot before nursing (be careful that it’s a SMALL amount). If baby is very hungry and cannot nurse comfortably because he’s cutting a tooth it can be beneficial to give him a quarter or  half a dose of infant motrin or tylenol 15-20 minutes before nursing. This will dull the pain for him. A full dose is not usually necessary. Teething tablets or teething drops might also help, just make sure that you observe your baby’s behavior to make sure that he’s not sensitive to one of the ingredients. (Many teething tablets contain lactose as a base, and teething drops often contain herbs such as chamomile which some babies can be allergic to.)


If your baby has an ear infection, nursing can be painful as suckling creates pressure. Baby should not be forced to nurse if his ears are bothering him. Instead, there are a few things you can try: Warm up some olive oil to slightly above body temperature (you should be able to stick your finger in it and hold it there comfortably without it hurting). Drip a drop or two of this into baby’s ear. Massage his ear and pull on the lobe to get it down near the eardrum. The warmth of the oil relaxes the drum.You can also massage just behind the ear lobe and under the jawbone- feel the spot yourself, you’ll feel a sensation in your ears when you hit the right spot.  I found massaging that area on my son helped with ear infections.   If it’s an external/outer-ear infection dropping some breast milk into the ear can be beneficial. An older child (over one year old) can drink a sweetened goldenseal-echinecea tea concoction which helps with ear infections. Ear ache homeopathic tablets might also help your child. A warm moist heat source such as a cornbag or rice sock placed over your child’s ear can also be beneficial in relieving pain. Just make sure it’s not too hot! Shake it around to make sure that the kernels are evenly heated and put it against some sensitive part of your body such as your breasts or belly and hold it there for 2-5 minutes just to make sure that the heat doesn’t build up on you.

If baby is hungry and refusing to nurse because of the pain of an ear infection you should bring him to see a doctor. A quarter to a full dose of infant tylenol or motrin might help ease the pain and let your child nurse.

The good news is that breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of ear infections, and nursing helps to drain the tubes. Keep on nursing!


Some babies are born with alignment issues or muscle stiffness, or they may have a fractured collarbone, pinched nerve or something similar from a difficult birth. Sometimes this is a minor injury that happens during birth, sometimes it’s a condition that the baby was born with such as Torticollosis.

If the problem with nursing is new and transient it may help the baby to nurse in a different position. (Ever wake up with a stiff neck? It is comfortable to turn your head in certain directions and not in others.) If the problem is consistent, such as the baby always rejecting one side, then physical therapy, an osteopath or a chiropractic skilled with working with infants may be beneficial. (Chiropractics that work with infants do not do “back cracking”, they generally work with positioning and firm massage. Never take a child to a chiropractor who is not skilled with working with infants.)


Sometimes babies will just freak out because of something that is bothering them. Who wants to eat if they have an itch they can’t scratch, or if every time they’re laying down the tag on the inside of their pj’s is bothering them? If a light is shining from above RIGHT IN THEIR EYES or if the TV is making a loud high-pitched noise that infants can hear but that adult ears have become deafened to?

If you can’t find another reason for your baby’s upset, look at the environment. Try nursing skin to skin with no nursing pillow, blanket, or clothes between you and your baby. Try wrapping a cloth diaper or towel around your baby to eliminate disposable diaper as the cause of your baby’s distress.

Shut off the lights, shut off the TV, move into a different room, turn the TV on, play music, dance while nursing, put the baby in a baby carrier and nurse that way. Strip your baby down and scratch every surface of his body lightly with your fingernails to see if that might be bothering him.

Remember also, that baby is not exempt from adult-like situations similar to restless leg or cramps. Your baby might be overwhelmed by a lack of motion, the need to move his limbs, or he might even have a cramp. See if any of baby’s muscles seem to be locked and if massaging that or applying pressure to that muscle helps the screaming. See if moving baby’s limbs around improves his mood (especially if baby is squirming or flailing), see if dancing and moving helps baby’s mood at all.


Do you have a suggestion for something we haven’t covered? We’d love to hear it. Have you tried everything and your baby is still screaming while breastfeeding? Let us know, maybe we can find more answers for you.

48 thoughts on “Screaming and Crying While Breastfeeding

  1. My baby would not nurse well in the beginning at all! He would latch on but not really suck. Our pediatrician recommended seeing an Osteopath. Once we went for our first treatment it was like a completely different child. Turns out my guy’s nerve that controls the tongue had been compressed where it exited the skull….so it hurt him to move it correctly. Once the Osteopath did his work my baby could feed wonderfully. Like my pediatrician said “It’s like voodoo but it works!” :) Maybe this will help others….it was awesome for us! Without it….we wouldn’t be breastfeeding. :)

  2. I would also like to suggest if baby isn’t nursing on a particular side, regularly (almost every time offered) you should consider taking baby to a Chiropractor. Sometimes a misalignment in their neck makes it hurt to turn their head to nurse! Other wise great article~even some things I had never considered!

  3. My son would latch, pop off, and scream pretty much continually. I started using a nipple shield which helped but turns out he had an undiagnosed tongue tie which wasn’t discovered till he was 4 months. He had his tongue tie released a few weeks later and by 5 months old he was nursing with no issues. He’s 16 months old now and still nursing! So glad I stuck with it!

    1. Also agree, please add tongue and lip ties! I had to work through a lot of fussing/crying at the breast by lying down and sometimes pumping then syringe feeding. There was no pain so I thought all was well. Latch looked good according to LC’s but bub had an upper lip tie and tongue tie. Symptoms are also reflux,colic, latching on and off, being overwhelmed by letdown… a lot of the things mentioned on here actually!

      1. Thank you thank you thank you for your comment. I owe it to you and the other ladies who commented about upper lip ties. My 3 mo old has a class 4 lip tie. The ped didn’t even address the problem, just said I had “low supply”. I went to go see the lactation consultant and she verified what I thought. Feeding has been an issue since he was born. I thought breastfeeding was so unnatural and hard. Many times I was left in tears not knowing what to do! Be wouldn’t eat or stay latched on and then fussed all day. I can’t wait to get the tie fixed so we can have a healthier breastfeeding relationship. Thank you again!

  4. These are such great suggestions! Thank you Sarah. My baby is almost 9 months old (1 day younger than your daughter) and once a month for the past three months my supply has slightly decreased and letdown has been much slower than normal. Also my breasts feel less full. After a few days the issue goes away and everything returns to normal. I haven’t gotten my period back yet but I’m wondering if it’s still related to my cycle. Is this common? I appreciate any advice you can offer!

    1. Your experience mirrors mine. I finally got my cycle back this month at “that time” following a dip in supply. Dipped 2 days and at the end of the second day I had cramping and then it appeared. Supply rebounded on day 2 (so 4 days of lower supply). Same experience months 3-8 but this time with the period at the end.

      I’d say definitely your cycle whether or not it is a full cycle.

      1. Dear Sarah. Since 6 weeks my baby started screaming while breast feeding. He drinks and as soon as he farts or there comes out winds at the bottom he will start crying and would not latch again. Please help?

  5. Some sort of chiropractic care need- whether birth trama, tight muscles, etc. my little man has trouble turning his head to one side without chiropractic care. He also had a dislocated jaw from birth that made it hard to open his mouth. Also his palate collapses regularly

  6. I have been having this trouble for a while now with my 2 1/2 month old son. I thought it was related to our thrush problem, but even when that has subsided, he still has terribly fussy feedings. He’ll nurse for a few minutes then start pulling back, kicking, then screaming. All I have found to make sure he’s getting enough hindmilk is block feeding especially when he’s sleepy and through the night. He forgets to not like the hindmilk when he’s dreaming!

  7. Where were you when my baby was born in November? Lol Great article, my dd cried for 3 hours straight somedays and I did not know why. I wonder if some of these suggestions would have helped. I am a first time mom with no baby experience.

  8. Tongue and lip ties!

    He was unable to nurse, exhausted from crying, and I believe he was sore or in pain. Swallowing all the air also gave him gas, which made him uncomfortable. All in all, he cried a lot while trying to nurse until the ties were revised.

  9. Please add tongue tie/lip tie to your list. We suffered intractable issues with nursing that left me exclusively pumping for 11 months. I later learned that my daughter has a partial tongue tie and a very tight upper lip tie that prevented her upper lip from flaring out the way it was supposed to, and causing her to be unable to get milk from the breast as normal. She screamed and cried for the two months I tried to nurse her and I wish I had known the reason.

  10. My son is 2 weeks and 3 days old at the beginning while trying to nurse him in the hospital when he would latch in he would such maybe 2 or 3 times and then freak out and latch off and cry or not even latch… My nipples are flat and after they have me a nipple shield and I tried that he was nursing! :) but now he nurses all the time seams then when i put him down after a while cries like still hungry lol and sometimes I can finally make him sleep… I was thinking it was just gas or since he spits up then well needs to eat more! But I will have to look into the tongue tied issue but as a child I did have colic and still have some gas issues and reflux and I guess he could suffer from that also! But anyway sorry I just wanted people to know that a nipple held might help some amazes me how smart these babies are!

    1. Hi Cassy,

      Nipple shields can be awesome for a lot of things, but they can cause supply problems long term. Have you tried nipple shells which you wear in your bra between nursing? They help coax flat and inverted nipples out so that the shield isn’t needed anymore. There is also a device called a “Latch assist” which pulls your nipple out during latching. If those things don’t work then nipple shields can make a huge difference, absolutely. Most lactation consultants try to have you try other things and only use nipple shields for nipple trauma (torn nipples or severe blisters).

      I’m glad that you have him nursing! That’s a huge accomplishment. If possible I’d try to work with a lactation consultant to wean off the shield though, as it will make it easier to breastfeed longer-term. :)

      I’ve known some people that have had to use nipple shields long term because nothing has worked and it truly saved their breastfeeding relationship. I’ve also known others that were able to successfully wean off the shield at different points. I’m just mentioning it so that you can look into all of the different possibilities. :)

      The nursing and crying and spitting up sound a bit like reflux or a trapped gas bubble. Shields can cause baby to suck in more air. Have you tried a more upright nursing position and frequent burping?

      You guys sound like you’re doing great! Everyone has some rough spots in the beginning to work their way through. :) I didn’t hit my stride until 6 weeks with my first, three weeks with my second and eight weeks with my third.


  11. My 6 week old son has been doing this for the last few weeks! He had trouble latching in the beginning so I have been using a nipple shield (I’m trying to wean him) and I had a forceful let down/over supply so I just one breast per feeding. What happens is I can usually get him to latch now without the shield but end up putting it back on after about 5 mins because he starts latching off and on and getting frustrated. He will eat vigorously for about 8-15 mins and then everytime towards the end of the feeding he will start grunting and trashing around kicking his legs and waving his arms and start to whimper/crying through his sucking! I try squeezing my boob to increase flow taking the shield off, switching breast, switching positions, etc. I just am so frustrated! I am thinking it has to be something related to it always being at the end of the session I feel bad though because he seems to still be hungry and will always latch back on but then after 3 or 4 sucks he’s acting like a crazy man!

    1. Kelsey, it might actually be oversupply that is causing him to have problems after 15 minutes. He may be trying to comfort suck after a feed and not want more milk but can’t get away from it. Have you tried a different position that gives him more control? If he calms down when you put the shield back on I’d bet on oversupply still being his issue. If if was amount or something else he would not chill out with the shield because a shield slows flow a bit.

      Six week olds are also notoriously unpleasant. have you seen my letter about the six week growth spurt?


    1. I use Klaire Labs ther-biotic Infant formula for probiotics. (as in formulated for infants, not as in infant formula milk replacer). it’s hypoallergenic. With my oldest I used baby Jarrodophilus but that apparently has traces of milk and shellfish. It worked very well but I prefer the hypoallergenic options.

  12. Thank you for compiling this. I have been considering switching to bottle feeding, Im finding breastfeeding really stressful. My baby is 5 weeks and we have been doing ok. I have enjoyed feeding her and thought I’d cracked it! However, last week she had a tummy bug and although it only lasted a few days it seems to have had a big impact on her feeding. At night she really fusses, tonight she’s been feeding for 2 hours. She’ll latch on and 5 minutes in on scream, kick her legs, pull my nipple, scratch her face and generally seem frustrated and hungry. Eventually she’ll fall asleep but the same happens a few hours later. This continues until morning. I contacted my HV about this who said she wasn’t latching on properly, but trying the new position she suggested only seems to anger her all the more. I started to worry I wasn’t making enough milk, but she’s still doing lots of poos and wees and putting on weight. From reading your solutions im guessing she’s going through a growth spurt or playing catch up after her tummy bug and my milk isnt letting down fast enough. I’ll try your suggestions. Please do let me know if you think there might be another explanation. Yhanks again, this page has given me some hope of sorting my feeding out

    1. Oh dear. I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. It sounds like the six week growth spurt (Which often comes at 5, 6, or 7 weeks). It’s a doozie! Everyone questions themselves during this growth spurt.

      You can try dancing with her while nursing if you’re able. (Hold her in the cradle position and stand up and sway while she’s nursing). You can also try singing to her while she’s nursing, rubbing her back, or nursing her in the tub. (Have someone handy to help the two of you get out after your bath).

  13. Thank you very much. You were absolutely right. This morning, after 3 nights of fussing and days of constant feeding I now have more milk than we know what to do with :) My husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan and I don’t have any family or friends where we’re now so this site has been a real support. Thank you Sarah you’re a life saver x

    1. Adele,

      I just almost cheered out loud. :) I’m so glad that the two of you got through this and that I was able to be a source of information and reassurance for you. Doing this alone must be so hard. I appreciate the sacrifice that your husband, your child and you are making.

      Much love to you, and I hope you have a lovely Christmas. Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you need some information or help finding resources. All this mama stuff is so much easier when you have a ‘tribe’.

      <3 -Sarah

  14. Thanks for the post! It’s really useful info. Can you add info on how to deal with the return of your period and its affect on your milk supply?

    I got my first period post partum at almost 4 months. It was just a four days or so of spotting, but my obgym says it was a period. Initially I was completely confused by this since I was exclusively Breastfeeding (no pacifier, no solids, no formula, and feeding on demand). My LC says all women are different and that it’s normal. I noticed a dip in supply a day before the spotting started and a couple of days after then my supply seemed to rebound. This month I’m noticing a dip during what I think might be the start of my ovulation. The last couple of days she’s been nursing quite frequently through the day and night. Today seems a bit better. I tend to have a bit of an oversupply so these dips really mess with my head. So I’m wondering what should I expect month to month. The dip in supply isn’t from ovulation until your period starts? Should I consider calcium/magnesium supplements to manage the dip? I’m worried whether my LO is getting enough. My goal is to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and then for at least another 6 months (and hopefully longer) after she starts solids. Please any thoughts on how to deal with this are welcome! Thanks.

    1. If you have oversupply it may actually be a good thing. :) I don’t have oversupply and I don’t do anything unusual. I just let my baby nurse on demand to regulate my supply. If your supply dips your baby nurses more. Everything is linked. Some people pump to maintain an oversupply to reduce the impact of the decrease. I let my body and my baby manage things.

      Supply naturally goes up and down. As long as you’re not giving bottles it’s no big deal and your supply will regulate. If you’re giving bottles on a regular basis then you’ll want to do other things to keep your supply up. (Things such as the one ounce per hour of separation rule, the “mom never gives bottles” rule, etc.)

  15. We’re having a few issues here … Little P is 5 weeks old … he’s started screaming and fussing at the breast. On one side it squirts out in all directions and on the other it seems ok. Sometimes he cant go anywhere near the fast one and other times he loves it and screams on the slower boob … its VERY stressful.

    I also think the fast and overfilled boob produces green poos and the other produces yellow poos … He screams when he farts and I think trapped wind is the cause, poss created by the over enthusiastic boob … i just dont know what to do ;0(

    1. Faye,

      Are you familiar with the idea of “block feeding”? If your fast flow continues past six weeks when your supply stabilizes I’d suggest looking into block feeding. *hug*

      Are you doing laid back nursing? I had oversupply/fast letdown at first with my daughter and her favorite position was this one: it let her control the flow without needing to have really good neck control, and it also worked against gravity rather than gravity allowing the milk to flow faster.

      Has your baby been checked for tongue and lip ties?

      My daughter was the same way. She would choose either the fast flow or the slow flow depending on the time of the day. I let her take the lead and would just let her choose which side to nurse on. This resulted in my supply stabilizing in both breasts as she rejected the fast flow when it was too fast.


  16. Hi Sarah,
    My baby is almost 5 months and I am having the problem where he will latch and feed for about 5 mins (max) and them pull off and scream. I’ll burp him and then reattach and he just continues to do the same thing, drink for a few seconds then realise I’ve put him back on and pull off and scream. I had a lot of trouble feeding and used nipple shields until he was just over 3 months. Do you think it’s just that he’s had enough or something else? He still does a good job of emptying my breast but does not completely empty it like he use to. He is fine at night when I feed him but all this happens between 7am and 7pm every feed. It started when I removed the shield but I haven’t used the shield for about 3 weeks now and it is still happening.

  17. Hi I was really hoping you could shed some light in me and my sons night time fussing and fighting… since he was about 4 weeks old he gets really fussy around 830-9 and cries and comfort nurses…. it usually lasted until 1 in the morning and it’s was not constant… 30-45mins crying 20-30 mins passed out.. it got better after I changed my diet took out dairy (not all but milk and cheese, yogurt… mostly milk lol I drank almost a gal in 3 days).. then at 6 weeks it got bad again but different crying became more intense and lasted longer, started spitting up alot after every feed sometimes he’d be eating and spew milk allover and cry then nurse… put him on gerber soothes colic drops and gripe water and it eased up immensely and week 7 was heaven.. :) asleep by 9 and out till 1 then again till 545…
    Now all the sudden he’s freaking out crying like some ones pinching him. His tummy rumbles loudly and he burps and farts constantly.. he roots for the boob but after the first few sucks he’s back to screaming. Last night after fighting for 2 hours he nursed for 6 then slept all day (mind you I was running errands and the car helped) now tonight his tummy is louder, he’s burping more and the only comfort was swaddling him tight and sqeezing him to my chest as I pat his butt.. 3 hours later he’s in bundled and semi sleeping in the swing. Squeaking and suckling but asleep…
    I’m at a loss not understanding what could be the cause… please help :'(

  18. Hi Sarah. Like everyone here I’m having issues with my 12 week old daughter screaming when I try to feed her. At first I thought it was because she was overtired but I now realise the screaming can happen at any of the daytime feeds. Interestingly she feeds perfectly through the night and for the first feed in the morning, but all daytime feeds and the one before bedtime are a nightmare. This has been going on since about four weeks. Initially she latches on and will feed for a few mins and then pulls off the breast, stiffens her body and screams. She will often reattach for a few seconds and then pull off stiffening and screaming again. This happens over and over, with the need to be calmed down throughout so she can be fed. I had wondered whether or not it’s because she doesn’t like the letdown, but if that’s the problem then surely she would also scream during the night and first morning feed?? I use gripe water as a last resort at the last feed before bedtime and interestingly this seems to calm her down and help her to do one big burp but it’s no guarantee she will be able to feed. Can you offer me any advice? I want to continue to breastfeed but it is very unpleasant at the moment. Thank you.

    1. Did you figure out what the problem was? This perfectly describes my 6-week-old son, who has been doing this since week 2. There’s rarely a calm feeding during the day. It’s worse in the evening and then is better in the middle of the night when he’s sleepy. Any advice is appreciated!

  19. I’m having trouble with my 9 week old for the past two days. She’s been nursing great until now when she suddenly started screaming and crying as soon as I position her to nurse. I can calm her down and try again over and over until she becomes inconsolable. She never latches on and refuses to get near my breast. When she’s like this Ive tried different positions, standing, dancing, rocking, nothing works. During the day today she would latch if I let her suck on my pinky finger while I positioned her but this evening she is refusing even that. I’m ready to cry, I love nursing her and hate to see her refuse my breast. She takes a bottle just fine during her fussy times but I don’t want her to develope a preference. I’ve not seen anyone mention a similar problem anywhere on the Internet so I’m praying someone can help me.

    1. Kara,

      It sounds like she already has a preference?

      Has she been checked for an ear infection? Sometimes that can result in an issue like the one you describe.

      Is there a reason why she’s been taking a bottle? Do you give her the bottle or does someone else?

  20. Hi there! My 2 1/2 month old has started fussing when feeding (for about a week now). He gets really fussy before he even latches on. I calm him down and then he will eat for 5-10 min. He pulls off and we burp. When I get him into position to eat again, the fussing starts again. Sometimes I can get him to eat more, but sometimes he refuses. I have tried laying down with him to eat because I thought maybe it was the position, but this hasn’t seemed to help. What else can I try? Any ideas on what might be causing the fussiness?

    1. Lauren,

      It sounds like growth spurt behavior. There are commonly growth spurts at 3, 6 and 9 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, etc. Fussiness, eating around the clock, etc. is common growth spurt behavior.

      It also sounds a bit like a bottle preference, if he’s getting any bottles that may be contributing.

      Is it all day or some feeds at certain times?


  21. Hi Sarah,
    I found your advice to be helpful, but I have a couple questions and concerns about my 3 month old daughter.
    I work three days per week and obviously I can’t feed my girl while at work. So I pump and she gets 2-3 bottles per day. The past two days my girl will start screaming and crying during her breast feedings. I try repositioning, changing breasts, calming her then putting her back on, but nothing! I have gotten so frustrated that I end up giving her a bottle. She does not scream or cry with the bottle.
    I use a nipple shield, a pacifier, and I’m a first time mom, so I feel like this frustration is the worst feeling in the world! I hate to see her cry and that’s why I cave and give her the bottle. My girl has a short frenulum and the nipple shield was the only thing that worked to breast feed her when she was born. She was also in the hospital from dehydration because she was not getting enough milk immediately after she was born. From day one she loved sucking on her hands, and to help calm her from gas we used a pacifier as well.
    With me working I have no choice but to give her a bottle during the day. My overall question is: did I mess all this up? Will she only take a bottle now?

  22. I have a three month old and he has never been a great nurser. I have an oversupply of milk and am continually working on keeping that under control so I only nurse on one side per session. My son will latch and nurse for about 6 minutes and then unlatch and when I try to relatch him after burping he cries and cries. Sometimes mid cry he will relatch and start drinking again. He is very inconsistent, sometimes wanting to nurse for 12 minutes sometimes 25 minutes so I’m never sure if he is telling me he is done or something else is going on. He has a milk protein sensitivity so I have cut that out of my diet for the past 7 weeks and he also had a tongue clipped at 7 weeks. I’m going to continue breastfeeding (he also refuses to take a bottle) but it’s so frustrating and stressful every feeding. He is 16 pounds and not the best latcher (I have to adjust it everytime) so nursing in different positions is very awkward and we can’t seem to make it work. I feel like it could just be the forceful letdown, or he could have another allergy (his poops still aren’t great) or it could be several things and I don’t really know where to start. Do you have any suggestions?

  23. my baby is 4 months old. He used to take bottle as well as fed on breastfeed till 3 months since I am a working mom. But after that he started screaming the moment I connect him. He was having severe infection accompanied with meningitis, otitis media, septicemia, preceptal cellulitis and had undergone CT scan thrice,. He was on broad range IV antibiotics TDS for 5 weeks when he was 1.5 month old. He left feeding (bottle as well as breastfeed) and was on IV fluids for 5 days. Doctor advised to give him pacifier and now he is addicted to it. After 3 months he used to cry while breastfeed and slowly he used to frustrate more and more. I used to feed while standing and then after a week I used to feed while walking and then after 2 weeks I used to feed him through rattle sound or music. But from 2 weeks he is crying so hard and whenever I try him to take him close to my breast he started shouting yelling crying. He took feed thrice in 2 weeks for only 3 to 5 minutes while he was sleeping or near to sleep and then left and slept. I am much worried and my milk supply is decreasing day by day,

    What should I do so that he can minimize bottle feed and then left it ultimately and feed on breast milk since he needs it more to help him improve his immune system too and build his bones and muscles strong.

    Anything I can try to deal this situation. Suggestions/advises are welcomed!


    1. he is also having the gas problem. whenever I try to feed he used to discharge gas and it might cause some ache in his tummy. I give him tummy time and exercises too to deal with the gas issue but bottle feed is what i have to give him ultimately.

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