The Secret to Keeping Your Breastfed Baby Full

Are you a mama struggling with a perpetually-hungry baby like me?

I’ve often wondered why my breastfed babies never seemed satisfied after most feedings. They never appeared to get “as full” as formula-fed babies. They would fuss after a feeding, have trouble sleeping through the night and continue to reach for the breast after nursing.

In fact, this is the routine each and every evening. I’m exhausted, nursing around the clock every two hours. Once I think I can sit down and get some chores done or play with my toddler and preschooler, that ravenous hunger strikes again. My bundle of joy wiggles from side to side, arching his back and neck, head bopping and mouth rooting.

Umm…didn’t I just feed you? How are you still hungry?? Why is my breast milk not filling you up? Am I doing something wrong??

Think your nursing baby is still hungry after feeding? Learn how to get your new baby full with just breast milk! Whether you are nursing or pumping, this breastfeeding tip is a life-saver! This post may contain affiliate links.

Is your breast milk sufficient?

All these breastfeeding struggles that come to mind may make us feel inadequate and lead us to question whether our milk supply is even best for our baby. But it’s important to not compare ourselves to others too much (despite the tendency to do so!).

You hear stories from friends or see their proud parenting moments on social media that contribute to these moments of frustration. Maybe they’re bragging about a 4 month old sleeping through the night, or sharing pictures of their girls night out adventures…when you wish you could sneak away for just a couple hours without a hand pump in tow, and then race back home to feed a hungry baby.

Read: Get Your Breastfed Baby to Take a Bottle

So you start doubting yourself and wonder if you should be feeding your baby formula to keep him full for longer chunks of time.

Breast milk vs. Formula

Perhaps…but while this may be true in many cases, it isn’t always true for every baby, as some babies may have a bad reaction to formula.

We know how beneficial it is to be able to breastfeed baby those first few months — the “breast is best” phrase is touted everywhere by pediatricians, lactation consultants and even written on various baby products and formulas! But breast milk is also lower in fat content and easily digested…which may inevitably leave your little one looking for more.

So playing the breast vs formula game can be a slippery slope. And probably something you shouldn’t do. It’s a decision only mom can make best.

But why do some breastfed babies appear to be fine, while others are just never satisfied, always wanting more?

Well after some struggling with my youngest, I found the answer right at my breast.

Think your nursing baby is still hungry after feeding? Learn how to get your new baby full with just breast milk! Whether you are nursing or pumping, this breastfeeding tip is a life-saver!Breastfeeding tips for moms

After nursing two kids (before my most recent baby), I thought I had this whole breastfeeding thing figured out. The lactation consultants at the hospital would always meet with new nursing moms to review the basics and help them through any new breastfeeding challenges. I always appreciated their tidbits of wisdom when they stopped by.

Start each new feeding with the breast you left off

Nurse on each side if baby is still hungry after first breast.

Finish feeding one full breast before moving on to the other.

Okay, got it. I thought I was already doing that each time.

But it turns out I wasn’t exactly. Yes, I’ll blame it on the dreaded engorged breast that may have caused a nursing mother to move to quickly onto the next breast before finishing feeding one breast, even if it already felt “empty” to me.

How to keep a breastfed baby full

But here’s the deal.

The first bit of milk that each breast produces is called foremilk. It’s a lighter substance that contains smaller amounts of fat. My pediatrician compared it to apple juice, where a kid drinking apple juice may quench their thirst, but doesn’t really feel like he had a meal after drinking.

That last bit of milk that comes after the foremilk, is the golden liquid: hindmilk. This thicker milk contains a bit more fat and therefore is the milk more likely to keep baby full.

That’s why if your baby always seem hungry even after you’ve offered BOTH breasts, it may simply be because you moved on to the next breast too quickly, and didn’t let him drink that filling hindmilk!

KellyMom, a top breastfeeding resource or moms, describes the process between feedings where “milk collects in the breasts and gradually moves out toward the nipple, leaving more and more of the fat “stuck” further back in the milk ducts.”

What?!! Is that why my baby always gave off those hunger signs? Oh my!!

It’s quite eye-opening actually!

I really wasn’t emptying that first breast completely before offering up the next, so it was no surprise baby was telling me he was really hungry!

Are you feeding one breast entirely before offering baby the next?

This is something all mamas should pay attention to each time they feed — it may truly be the answer to your struggles.

But I don’t want you to feel discouraged if this doesn’t work right away…because in reality, it may take some time.

Baby may cluster feed during a growth spurt. 

Baby may use the breast as a pacifier for comfort.

Or mama could be misreading the signs all together, as breastfed babies may often reach for the breast for comfort when trying to communicate other needs — like help-me-go-to-sleep-mama, I’m exhausted (this is actually a big thing that happens to a lot of us!)!

So the next time you find yourself struggling to feed a “hungry baby” keep in mind what breast you started with and make sure baby drinks up every last drop before switching sides!

Note: If you’re feeling super engorged on one side and need relief, express a little manually or with a trusted breast pump (my favorite one). Then you can offer the rest to baby afterwards.

You may also enjoy:

Breastfeeding truths! The real pros and cons of breastfeeding your baby from a mom of three. Whether you are pumping, formula-feeding or exclusively nursing, these facts will help you make the best decision for your baby.

Breastfeeding? Bookmark these easy ideas to help increase your breast milk supply - great for new nursing moms!

 Such genius breastfeeding hacks and tips to make life easier for nursing moms! A must-read for moms who feed on demand or pump!

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  1. Oh…the memories….exactly as you described. None of my 4 kids ever quite nursing, lol. A year for each of them and it seemed to be all the time! Wish I had known all this then!!
    Jamie recently posted…Why You Should Go Hiking With Your KidsMy Profile

  2. Thank you so much for this post. But my problem is my third baby struggles with reflux (on meds) and I have a heavy milk supply, so she is pretty satisfied or very gurgly after 5 or 6 minutes and won’t come back to the breast for another half hour or so. So I feed her in increments and it’s exhausting. I’ve done lots of different methods (reclining, occasionally pumping a little bit of the let down beforehand- but with three little ones, I just don’t have the time to be attached to that thing) etc. etc….Hoping now that she’s four months old and starting rice cereal soon it will help??

    • Some babies have an underdevelopped stomach flapper (like my daughter did) – so what that means is that flapper normally closes after food gets in the stomach. When it’s still underdevelopped, it doesn’t close properly and food ends up coming back up. Some kids grow out of it in a month and some 3 months, 6months, 9 months or a year. Yes mine took a year of that!
      Solids did not help. Medication did not help. She just used to spit up buckets and buckets. Which was very frustrating and i spent my time changing her clothes, bedding, my clothes, bedding, and in the shower. Laundry multiplied by 20 and shower after shower during the day. Yes very frustrating. But there was nothing that was helping. Once she reached the one year it stopped! Just before the year, the amount she was spitting up were reducing little by little. When we tried the meds, it helped for that month but when we stopped it it came back. So it was just a matter of time. Truth is, in that year a lot of things may still have not developped completely and continue to, wether it’s eye sight, walking, crawling. Whatever is it. And for my daughter it was her stomach flapper!

      Hope this helps beautiful mommas out there.. keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

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