Some say that breastmilk has super powers, but does that mean it can give the baby super powers? It seems like a silly question, but when we look at babies who are breastfed, we can begin to notice that they do some things a little differently than other babies.
Breastfeeding creates a unique relationship between mom and her baby, one that cannot often be replaced. It also can create some habits in babies that may seem a bit weird. If mom didn’t know any better, she may be worried about her baby, thinking that something may be wrong.
When a mom becomes a first-time mom and decides to breastfeed, there is a lot she doesn’t know about this journey. Breastfeeding can be a ‘learn as you go’ type of act, and there is a lot that can catch her off guard. It takes support and education for mom to learn that these things are normal. Any lactation consultant would take your question, and answer with a mere ‘this is just what breastfed babies do, and it is completely normal.’
We thought we would delve a little deeper into the behaviour of a breastfed baby and find 20 things that commonly happen when a baby is breastfed. Not all of these will apply to all breastfed babies, but chances are they are doing at least half of them.
20 Wake More Frequently
We’ll start with one of the more dreaded ones. Sleep is a precious commodity and adults often take the ability to sleep for granted until they become parents. They will suddenly think about all those lost naps that they decided not to take and really wish they had taken them. The bad news is that a breastfed baby is more likely to wake more at night.
A newborn's stomach is small, and it doesn’t matter what they eat, it will be the same size. However, a breastfed baby may need more feedings because breastmilk is digesting a lot quicker than formula is. This means that their stomach is emptying quicker and will need to be filled back up again.
19 Need Less Burping
The good news is that with those extra feedings may come fewer burping sessions. Babies need to be manually burped, they can’t process trapped air on their own until they are about 6-months old, so they need some help from mom and dad to release it. If it is not released, then mom and dad will have a very cranky baby who has a bit of a stomach ache.
When a baby is fed with a bottle (so this does apply to pumping moms) they take in more air because more air is in the bottle, and this may mean that mom needs to do a little more burping. When babies breastfeed, they create a tighter seal on mom, and since there is no air in the breasts, they don’t take in as much. Mom should still try and burp the baby, but she shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t burp every now and then.
18 Pleasant Smelling …
The next two sections are going to be about the diaper situation. Diapers are an unpleasant but necessary part of parenting. They are no one’s favourite part about being a parent, and everyone is so happy when their little one is finally done with the diapers. However, the good news for a mom to a breastfed baby is that their diaper changes may not be as foul-smelling as formula fed.
That is because breastmilk is so natural and pure that it doesn’t create waste that smells extremely bad. It doesn’t smell great, but it is much easier on the nose. Waste is the body’s way of getting rid of things it doesn’t need, hence the smell; there is less to get rid of with breastmilk and what’s left is incredibly mild.
17 … Where Is The …
Mom may sometimes wonder why her baby has not gone to the bathroom in a while. We are not talking about wet diapers, just dirty diapers. A breastfed baby should still have plenty of wet diapers during the day, it is the best way to make sure the baby is taking in enough milk. However, it is completely normal for a breastfed baby to go days, and even a week, without making a dirty diaper.
This is not cause for concern or worry, but it is common for mom to worry. This is again due to the natural source of food. We already mentioned about how the body works when it comes to getting rid of waste. If we remember that, it makes sense. When there is less waste, there will be less diapers.
16 Roll Their Eyes Back
This may be one of the scarier things to happen, and it may have mom phoning the doctor to get her baby’s eyes checked. Breastfed babies tend to roll their eyes back into their head when they are nursing, and it is rarely cause for concern. It is common for babies to roll their eyes into the back of their head when nursing, and it normally happens at the beginning of a feed when they are first getting the milk.
This is nothing more than the baby being really happy to be getting some milk from mom. They are immediately satisfied, and this is their body's way of reacting to being in a complete state of bliss.
15 Refuse A Pacifier
Pacifiers are an item that are loved and hated by parents. Parents dread the time when they are going to have to stop giving it to their baby. However, they are also thankful that something can comfort their baby for a just a few minutes to give them peace. They are also loved well by mothers who breastfeed, because breastfed babies tend to use mom as a human pacifier.
The bad news is that there is a good chance a breastfed baby will always refuse a pacifier. A bottle-fed baby is used to artificial nips in their mouth and have an easier time adjusting between the change. When a baby is exclusively breastfed, it can be hard to get them to suddenly take a plastic form of what they want.
14 All Hands On Deck
As breastfed babies age, they pick up some certain habits and some of them can come across as quite territorial. Breastfed babies tend to be all over mom even when they are not feeding. They can become quite obsessed with the area that provides them with food and comfort. As long as mom is at home, this is not a big deal.
Moms can get a bit nervous when it comes to being out in public. They suddenly have eyes all over them because their child is dramatically trying to claw at mom’s chest. Mom need not worry though, this is just a sign that your baby loves you and may want some comfort.
13 Twiddling Fingers
Breastfed babies like to be interactive when they are feeding. They will often find anything within their reach and twiddle with it while they are feeding. This could be anything from mom’s body, her clothes, her hair and even her expensive gold jewelry handed down from her grandmother. This is personally why I don’t wear any jewelry while my children are babies.
There is an easy solution to this problem if mom is tired of having everything grabbed and played with while she is feeding. There is a range of chunky necklaces that mom can buy that serve the main purpose of being the thing your baby can play with while they nurse.
12 Feed All The Time
It is quite common for a breastfed baby to want to be fed all the time, and it has little to do with hunger. It is hard to put a breastfed baby on a schedule because they go through spurts of cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is when the baby wants to eat frequently for a few days. What they are trying to do is build up mom’s supply because they know a growth spurt is coming.
A formula fed baby rarely goes through these periods of wanting to eat frequently, so it is much easier to get them on a predictable feeding schedule. Mom can be certain that after her baby takes a bottle, it will be a good few hours before they are ready for another one.
11 Pull On Your Clothes
There is no age limit on breastfeeding, and the AAP actually recommends that babies are breastfed for quite a while, leading into toddlerhood. Toddlers are very smart and by now they have caught on to breastfeeding and where their food comes from and they are also not shy. They hold no reservations when it comes to just walking over to mom and lifting her shirt up for a drink.
They don’t understand that it is inappropriate to display your mother in a restaurant or at a family reunion. They may even give it a cute nickname. It you see a toddler going over to their mom and trying to take their top off, chances are they are breastfed.
10 Young Philosopher
This one behaviour is actually quite cute and adorable, and we don’t really know why they do it. There are some studies out there that say that a breastfed baby will have a higher IQ than a formula fed baby, but there are instances when even a newborn seems to be proving that to be true.
A breastfed baby may sometimes be eating contently, then they stop, unlatch and gaze off into the distance. It appears like they are in deep thought or like they have just made a fantastic scientific discovery. We don’t really know why they do this, but we sure wish we knew what they were thinking about in these moments.
9 Choke (Not As Scary As It Sounds)
This one sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. Breastfed babies do seem to ‘choke’ when they feed a lot more than formula fed babies. Don’t worry though, the baby is rarely truly choking and is most likely coughing from too much let down. When a baby drinks from a bottle, the flow is consistent and controlled by how much the baby sucks.
When a baby is breastfed, the letdown can often be uncontrollable. If mom has not nursed in a while, there will be a lot of milk and it will flow a lot faster. If this hits the back of the baby’s throat, or they can not keep up with the flow they may unlatch and start coughing as if they were choking.
8 Can Sniff Out Mom
We talked earlier about babies having super powers from breastmilk, and this one may confirm it. Babies who are fed breastmilk will often be able to smell out their mom. If you blindfolded a baby (which no one should ever do) and had them try and find their mom, they probably would be able to by just smelling.
Even if mom can’t smell it, she smells like milk. A baby’s hypersensitive smelling will pick up on this. Also, since the breastfeeding relationship is a lot about bonding, the baby gets used to mom’s smell in general. This is why when babies are upset, a lot of times, dad will offer one of mom’s shirts because the smell will comfort them.
7 Cry When Mom Leaves
Every baby goes through periods of separation anxiety, it is a normal stage of development. Breastfed babies may have a bit of a harder time when mom leaves the room. This is because of the intense bonding that happens between a mom and her breastfed baby. It is also the baby’s food source, and they may not like it to be walking away.
This is something that can cause a lot of heartache and anxiety in a mom, who doesn’t want to leave her baby but sometimes has to. Whether this is to go to work, or even just to have some alone time. The good news is that this will pass, it is just a phase that babies will work through.
6 Become An Acrobat
Breastfed babies seem to have special powers and are able to turn themselves into crazy acrobats while breastfeeding. They are able to get themselves into some pretty weird positions to feed, positions that we are pretty sure defy all rules of nature and gravity.
That is because where they are getting their food is very flexible. When mom feeds a baby with a bottle, the baby is pretty stationary. They are unable to manipulate the bottle into whichever direction they want. When a baby is feeding from mom, they are not held in a strict position as if they were being fed a bottle. They are able to roll around and even nurse upside down.
5 Feed For Comfort
When a baby feeds from a bottle, they are all business. Their purpose is to eat, and they really have no other use for a bottle other than to get food. A breastfed baby will act completely different when it comes to their food source. Breastfeeding is about so much more than just getting food and nutrition.
It is also about comfort. Babies will want to nurse when they are upset or stressed. It will help them calm down. They will feel closer to mom, they can feel her warmth and smell her, and all of these things will help calm them down. If they are teething, or over tired, all they need to do is nurse and they are more likely to settle a lot faster.
4 Take Longer To Want Solid Food
It is an exciting time when mom can introduce solid foods to her little one. She is looking forward to the reactions and the moment when she can finally get a break while someone else feeds the baby. Unfortunately, there are times when a baby who is breastfed may take a little longer to eat solids.
They love their breastmilk and they aren’t really interested in anything that isn’t breastmilk. It could be because breastmilk is (obviously) easier to eat. This is completely OK though. Breastmilk should be your baby’s primary source of food until they are one year old anyways. As long as you keep introducing foods, your baby will be fine and will eventually warm up to them.
3 Go On An Eating Strike
There are times when a baby who is breastfed can go on a nursing strike, and there are two main reasons this can happen. It can happen when a baby starts solid foods, and they are too interested in the new flavours and textures they are receiving. They may want to eat more solid foods than drink breastmilk.
They also could be at the age where they are easily distracted. This is when a nursing baby has a hard time staying latched on because they are more interested in the world around them. All mom can do is try to offer the source as much as possible and as long as her baby is not getting dehydrated or starts losing weight, they will be just fine, and this will pass.
2 Less Likely To Be Colic
This one goes hand in hand with the entry about how breastfed babies need fewer burping sessions. Colic is something every parent wants to avoid, it makes the baby incredibly uncomfortable and can lead to prolonged periods of crying. This is due to acid reflux and stomach trouble with the baby. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop colic as an infant.
This is not to mean that they never get it, because that would be a lie. There are just less instances of it. If your baby does appear to have colic, speak to your doctor. There are a lot of remedies and tricks out there that can help a baby (and their parents) through this time.
1 Bite Mom
It is a dreaded time in a breastfeeding mother’s life, the moment her little breastfed baby gets teeth, she gets worried. That is because a lot of breastfed babies go through a period where they bite mom, and this hurts. This can be fixed, and it doesn’t have to mean an early end to the breastfeeding relationship.
When a baby bites mom during a feeding, she needs to say NO and end the feeding session. Mom may have to repeat this for a few times, but the baby will start to understand that if they bite, they will not get to nurse. Also, it is a good thing to keep in mind that a baby who is properly latched on will not be able to bite down, so if you feel the latch slipping it is time to pull away.