What causes babies to pop on and off every minute or so?

Does your baby keep unlatching but she's still hungry? You're not alone.

There could be two causes! Popping on and off the breast is usually due to flow or an insufficient latch.

Your Milk Flow is Either Too Fast or Too Slow

If your flow is very fast, your baby may pop off to catch her breath or rest before finishing the feed. If your flow has stopped or slowed, the baby popping on and off is like the stimulation setting on a breast pump—they are trying to stimulate the breast to let down again.

If your flow is fast, one solution is to try a laid back breastfeeding position. This allows your baby to have more control over the feeding session. Alternatively, if your milk supply is slow, you can try a dangle-feeding position that involves resting your breast over your baby's mouth.

Your Latch Isn't Quite Right

Latch is another common reason that your baby might be popping on and off your breast and it could be because baby got it wrong and needs to adjust or the shape and/or firmness of the breast has changed as it empties and baby needs to readjust mid-feed to empty it properly.

Know that finding the perfect latch can take time. Work with your lactation consultant and care team to find solutions that work for you and your little one. If you want to learn more about latch techniques, read Willow's guide on How to Help Your Baby Find a Good Latch.

Other Reasons for Latching & Unlatching

While milk flow and latch are the two biggest culprits for babies popping off during feeding, there are other possible (and often less likely) reasons for this to happen. Here are a few:

  1. Baby gas or stomach discomfort
  2. Teething
  3. Baby reflux
  4. Distractions or fussy baby
  5. Insufficient nursing position

Want to ask our IBCLC more questions? Head to Instagram for more conversations every week and ask away.

This article was written in partnership with our International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Wendy Wright, who loves working side by side with moms and babies to find that secret sauce! She’s also a mother of two and the Mom Experience Lead at Willow Pump.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
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