What do breastfed babies comfort nurse?

If you are a new mom, then you are probably still learning about breastfeeding. That is totally natural and absolutely to be expected.

After all, you and your baby need to get to know each other. You'll discover that your baby has certain preferences for positioning and other factors that may affect the nursing experience.

If you are now nursing your second or third child, then you may have noticed that your experience is quite different this time around. This baby just doesn't like the same nursing position, and he can't stand to have his head covered.

The bottom line is that you have to adapt your approach to ensure that your baby is getting all of the nutrition that he needs.

However, it also is vital to realize that babies don't just suck to satisfy hunger or thirst. Sucking also may be used to help baby:

  • Find reassurance
  • Get warm
  • Calm down
  • To develop a deeper bond with mom
  • To relieve pain
  • To fall asleep

Frequently, these needs to suck are satisfied at mom's breast. This type of sucking may go by names like comfort nursing or non-nutritive sucking. Regardless of what it is called, this type of sucking is in addition to the sucking that baby does to obtain the nutrition that she requires.

Are behaviors like comfort nursing and flutter sucking OK? If you allow them, are you destroying your baby's ability to learn how to comfort himself? Will your baby ever be able to fall asleep without nursing if you allow flutter sucking?

Take a breath and relax. In general, comfort nursing is nothing to worry about, and allowing this behavior generally has no long-term, detrimental effects on your baby.

Read on to learn more.

Defining Comfort Nursing

When your baby is nursing for food, you may notice that his activity is pretty vigorous. He's hungry, and he is more than ready for a meal.

However, there may come a moment when things change. Your baby is still latched, but the tempo of his sucking has become more relaxed and casual. This means that he may have slipped into comfort nursing.

When your baby is actually eating, your nipple is cupped by her tongue. Baby is probably sucking hard and fast. As the milk begins to flow, she settles into a deep rhythmical sucking.

When your breast is empty, your baby's latch might loosen. You'll hear and see that the pace of their sucking has decreased. This behavior frequently is referred to as flutter sucking.

Mom Is the Best Pacifier

Some people are dead set against allowing comfort nursing or flutter sucking. They think that it will spoil the infant or lead to bad habits.

However, the reality is that a tiny baby isn't likely to develop much in the way of lasting habits at the age of three months.

This means that it likely is perfectly fine to act like a pacifier for your baby. In your child's mind, you are the ultimate in warmth and comfort. Being close to you offers an exceptional opportunity to bond and feel reassured all at once. If you want your baby to be calm and relaxed, then allowing some comfort nursing is an excellent idea.

Won't This Spoil My Baby?

If you are a breastfeeding mom, then you are probably getting advice from all sorts of people. Everyone wants to share what they have experienced and learned. That can be great, and you may get some really valuable insight.

However, it is wise to take all of this advice with a grain of salt. What works for one mother and baby pair may not work for another.

If you have friends or family members who are telling you that you will spoil your infant by allowing comfort nursing, you absolutely have the right to disagree. These well-meaning individuals seem to view babies as if they are able to willfully manipulate their moms by demanding to be latched to the breast at all hours.

The reality is that babies do not have the mental maturity to willfully manipulate anyone. If they are distressed and showing a desire to suck, then it is perfectly all right to allow some comfort nursing. It is impossible to spoil an infant.

Your baby will eventually reach a biological stage at which he is ready to learn to self-soothe and cultivate patience. However, that time does not usually arrive in the first six months or so of life.

Can Comfort Nursing Become a Problem?

In most instances, comfort nursing is a completely natural behavior. This is especially true if the baby is growing as expected and is successfully breastfeeding on a regular basis.

However, there may be rare situations in which comfort nursing becomes a cause for concern. As an example, if your baby is constantly breastfeeding but does not appear to be gaining enough weight, then their comfort nursing may be an indication that they are not successfully breastfeeding. This leaves them to turn to comfort nursing as an antidote to their hunger.

This can be a major cause for concern, because if baby is not effectively breastfeeding, then your milk supply can drop off the cliff. With less breast milk available, your baby will eat even less, resulting in lower energy levels.

If this situation is not addressed, then your nursing sessions may turn into extended flutter sucking sessions with your baby remaining hungry after each one.

If you feel that your baby is not gaining enough weight, then it's time to schedule an appointment with her pediatrician. You may also want to work with a lactation consultant to see if there are techniques that you can use to improve your baby's breastfeeding.

The Benefits of Comfort Nursing

There are many reasons why you and your baby should enjoy the comfort nursing experience as much as possible. Breastfeeding is an excellent opportunity for:

  • Relaxing together
  • Forging a stronger bond
  • Sharing some warmth
  • Cuddling just for the pleasure of it
  • Relieving pain

For fostering attachment, feelings of security and the relief of pain, there is no better remedy than breastfeeding.

The people who argue against comfort nursing may say that you're overfeeding your baby, that you're spoiling your baby or that there's no need for mom to act as baby's pacifier.

The reality is that there is no scientific evidence to back up these assertions. However, there is evidence for baby's biological need to suck. It's also true that calming a baby is a fundamental part of being a parent. If breastfeeding does this most efficiently and naturally, why not rely on it?

It further is worth noting that sucking releases hormones that induce sleep, which means that allowing some comfort nursing may lead to some much-needed sleep for you and for baby.

Your Partner in Breastfeeding

At Euphoric Herbals, we understand the many complicated joys and challenges of being a mother. It's not an easy path, but we can negotiate it successfully when we work together to support each other.

That is part of our mission here at Euphoric Herbals. We formulate all-natural products that are designed to support your role as a mom. These products include all sorts of organic teas and supplements that will help to stimulate and maintain your supply of breast milk.

Moreover, you'll find innovative, natural remedies that help you to build up your immune system so you can stay healthy and active. Take a look at products like our Milky Mama Tea and Lush Leche supplement to get the support you need along your breastfeeding journey.

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