2 week old baby not feeding as much

Breastfeeding sleepy and reluctant babies

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There are lots of reasons why your baby may be reluctant to feed. It doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a good job as a mum. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to know all the answers straight away and speak to your midwife or health visitor if you have any questions or concerns, or are looking for ways to make feeding more comfortable.

How often should my baby feed?

All babies are different, but it's very common for babies not to feed all that much in the first 24-48 hours, and some don't attach at all. However, from day 2-3 days babies should become much more awake and feed in more frequent (but probably irregular) bursts at least 6 times in 24 hours.

How do I know if my baby's getting enough milk?

Photo of a baby breastfeeding

Breastfeeding at first can be really hard to get used to and you might find yourself wondering if your baby has had enough milk - it can be very hard to judge how much breastmilk your baby has had, but they are clever wee things and you have to have some faith that your baby knows whether it needs more milk. There are signs to look out for if you think your baby isn't getting enough milk.

Why are some babies reluctant to feed?

This happens most often when babies don't get skin-to-skin contact with mum soon enough or for long enough after the birth. Ideally, you want skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight away and for as long as it takes for your baby to want to feed. If you don’t have any complications, your midwife will help you get skin-to-skin with your baby quickly after they are born. Some reluctant babies are just too tired, sore, or sedated to feed after birth, and others can't because they are premature, ill or jaundiced.

What if I miss my baby's signs that they're hungry?

New mums sometimes miss or don't understand their baby's feeding signs – our page about learning your baby's cues explains what you should be looking for. Don’t worry if it takes a while to get used to when your baby wants a feed – it's something you are both learning together and it's baby steps for both of you. It's completely understandable to be worried about how much milk your baby is getting if they're not feeding in the early hours and days. It might help to know that babies are born with several days' supply of fluid and stored fat to get them by until they're ready to feed.

What's the solution?

Your midwife will check in on you to make sure your baby is well and to help you spot the signs that they're ready to feed – remember you can ask your midwife (in the hospital or at home) to help show you how to get in a comfortable position to help get your baby feeding. This video shows just this – very often all it takes is some help with positioning, skin-to-skin contact and a little patience!

Top tips to encourage a reluctant or sleepy baby to breastfeed

Tip #1: Hand expressing to keep your milk supply up

Start hand-expressing your colostrum – this is the first milk you make, and helps protect your baby from illness and infection. You can give this to your baby by syringe, spoon, dropper or cup. Expressing helps to build a good milk supply for when your baby is ready to feed. If this is your first time breastfeeding, it will take some time to get used to expressing your milk. You can find out more about expressing here. 

In the first couple of days you only make small amounts of colostrum so don’t become disheartened if it is difficult or takes time. It will get easier as each day and week goes by.

Tip #2: Try lots of skin-to-skin contact

Aim for lots of skin contact and being close to soothe your baby and give them the opportunity to feed.

Tip #3: Try to find a comfortable feeding position

Biological 'laid back' breastfeeding positions can help encourage babies to feed. Your midwife will be able to show you comfortable ways to feed. You can find out more about feeding positions here.

Tip #4: Get your baby ready for a feed

Massaging your baby's skin, changing their nappy and expressing a little milk for them to taste can help get your baby interested in feeding.

Tip #5: Don’t force your baby to feed

Don’t push your baby by the head or try to force them to feed as this could put them off completely.

Getting to know your baby

Learning your baby's cues

Signs your baby isn't getting enough milk

Refusing the breast

Looking after yourself with a newborn

The Scotland wide donor milk bank

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Last updated: 31 May, 2022

Breastfeeding: my baby's feeding patterns have changed | Baby & toddler, Feeding articles & support

Baby feeding patterns do change as they get older. Here we explore why feeding might change and whether to do something about it.

Although it's normal to worry, there is often a reason for changes to feeding patterns, such as feeding more or less, or refusing the breast. While you can’t always know exactly why your baby changes their feeding patterns, you can consider some of the reasons and strategies below.

My baby started feeding more often

Feeding more frequently is almost always linked with a baby’s normal increase in appetite. If you are breastfeeding, the more your baby feeds, the more milk you will make. A baby breastfeeding more frequently is their way of ensuring you make more milk (Daly and Hartmann, 1995).

My baby is feeding constantly

In the early days, there are many reasons why babies spend more time at the breast than their parents might have imagined. Primarily, it’s because newborn babies are used to being close to their mums while in the womb and recognise many of her rhythms when held close, in skin-to-skin contact or being breastfed. This behaviour is innate and fulfils baby’s need for contact, security, bonding and attachment, as well as the need to be fed.

The early months of a baby’s life, as they adapt to the world outside the womb, is often known as the fourth trimester. It's a time when close contact with the mother helps the baby to develop a secure attachment (Raff, 2017).

The security and emotional connection they have at the breast can be important for babies of all ages (Narvaez, 2011). All of this stimulus can be perceived as baby wanting to feed more or needing more food, when in fact it is normal infant behaviour.

Baby feeding and growth spurts

Traditionally, babies feeding more often can be explained as your baby having a growth spurt. A growth spurt is a term describing when a baby’s eating and growth increases or when they reach a developmental milestone (Kelly Mom, 2018).

Signs your baby might be having a growth spurt are:

  • A need to feed more often.
  • An increase in weight gain.
  • Tighter clothing or a feeling that they’re heavier when picked up.
  • Sleeping more, which helps them to grow.
  • Deeper, more intense feeds.
  • Being more fussy, or needing more comfort and cuddles.
  • They might also want to be at the breast more at times when they need reassurance and comfort.

(Kelly Mom, 2018)

We do know that babies don’t all grow predictably and at the same rate as each other, like you might imagine from looking at growth charts (Wright et al, 2010).

My baby is feeding less than before

If you feel that your baby is not feeding well, it’s important to realise that feeding less can be normal too. Older babies can often get what they need with shorter, and/or less frequent feeds.

Babies might reject the breast, by turning their heads away when it’s offered, and/or show clear signs they’re finished sooner than you’ve been used to. They may be satisfied with one breast, perhaps, or break off after just a few minutes and refuse to go back on.

If your baby is healthy, growing well, producing plenty of wet and dirty nappies and thriving in other respects, there’s normally no need for concern about this. Baby feeding patterns can vary over time.

Breast refusal

Sudden, but temporary, breast refusal can sometimes be referred to as a nursing strike (La Leche League, 2017). Your baby might refuse the breast entirely and be distressed or seem to reject it if you keep offering. 

Signs of breast refusal may include being unhappy at the breast, crying at the breast, not wanting to be held or pulling away from the breast, fighting your breast physically with their fists (Mohrbacher et al, 2003).

Why is my baby not feeding as well or refusing the breast?

There are many reasons why babies may not feed as well as previously or refuse the breast, including:

  • A sore or uncomfortable mouth.
  • Earache or another illness, such as chicken-pox or hand foot and mouth disease.
  • Discomfort of some other sort, such as teething.
  • A lack of energy due to mild illness.
  • Pain or tension associated with the birth.
  • Forceful ejection reflex, fast flow or oversupply of milk in the mother that causes the baby to cough, splutter or choke.
  • Breasts feel full or engorged, making it more difficult for baby to attach.
  • Older babies may become more distracted during a feed, and might not feed so well if there are other things going on around them.
  • Feeding from a bottle, which may interfere with breastfeeding.
  • Thrush inside a baby’s mouth, which can be painful for babies.
  • A number of factors can change the taste of breastmilk. Some food flavours can transfer to breastmilk. Strenuous exercise can alter breastmilk taste due to an increase in lactic acid. Occasionally, a particular medication, such as an antibiotic or combined pill, can affect the taste of breastmilk too.
  • Acid reflux and colic can both cause babies to want to feed little and often.
  • Babies sometimes refuse the breast when something upsetting or strange has happened to them.

(Mohrbacher et al, 2003; La Leche League, 2017; Kam, 2021)

Sometimes, it’s not possible to say what might have caused the ‘strike’. For more details, see our article Why is my baby refusing the breast?

What could I try if my baby is feeding less or refusing the breast?

There are many reasons why a baby may not be feeding well or refusing the breast. So there are as many different things you might try to encourage them to feed better or to return to the breast.

Trying to force a reluctant baby to feed is unlikely to work and can make your baby more upset. Patience, being calm, cuddles and close contact can often help

You could also try:

  • being vigilant for your baby’s feeding cues and responding to the earliest cues, or offering your baby the breast while they are sleepy
  • expressing a little at the beginning of a feed if the breasts are full or engorged, or if you have a very strong let-down
  • skin-to-skin contact, even when your baby doesn’t appear hungry
  • feeding in a quiet, calm place
  • holding your baby in a different position
  • if you are mixed feeding, try paced bottle feeding.

You may find it helpful to have a discussion with a breastfeeding counsellor, who might have other ideas she can share with you.

See our article about breast refusal for more tips to help your baby who’s refusing the breast to breastfeed and for tips to help lower your stress levels.

This page was last reviewed in January 2022.

Further information

NCT supports all parents, however they feed their baby. If you have questions, concerns or need support, you can speak to a breastfeeding counsellor by calling our helpline on 0300 330 0700, whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or using formula milk. Breastfeeding counsellors have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising and will offer relevant information and suggestions. You can also find more useful articles here.

National Breastfeeding Line (government funded): 0300 100 021.

NHS information on mastitis

Best Beginnings - Bump to Breastfeeding DVD Chapter 7 'Overcoming Challenges'

Healthtalkonline. org: Managing Breastfeeding – dealing with difficult times

Poor appetite in a newborn

Newborns and infants almost immediately after birth acquire a sucking reflex and, accordingly, feeling hungry, require it to be satisfied. Mother's breast milk is the most useful and necessary food for the growth and development of the baby. Therefore, if a baby suddenly loses appetite, does not gain weight, refuses to breast or a bottle, there are a number of reasons for this, which you need to figure out and understand what is wrong. If the refusal of food occurred once, there is no need to sound the alarm. But in the case of a regular repetition of the situation, it is better to turn to pediatrician who can help a little person and mother to improve nutrition.

So, what are the causes of poor appetite in a newborn? Why is he not gaining weight and with crying he throws his mother's breast or a bottle?

  • Special structure of the mother's nipple. Because of the inverted or flat nipple, feeding is difficult for the baby, he needs to make a lot of effort to get milk. If the baby does not eat for this very reason, then his smacking of his lips, anxiety and crying as soon as he is at the mother's breast will be indicative. In such a situation, the mother will have to express milk or feed in a certain position that is comfortable for the baby so that the baby can get enough milk.
  • Intestinal colic . Such cramping pains in the tummy most often occur in the first weeks after birth, when the not yet fully formed gastrointestinal tract can not cope with the incoming milk or formula. As a result, the child suffers from increased gas formation, and his appetite is sharply reduced. If the baby twists his legs during feeding, pulls them up to his stomach, starts crying abruptly and interrupts feeding, most likely it is colic.
  • Dysbacteriosis. Does the baby spit up often, he develops skin rashes , does he gain weight poorly and eats very little for feeding? Most likely, this is a dysbacteriosis that causes a loss of the baby's appetite. Probiotics and a diet for the mother, prescribed by a pediatric specialist, will help in this case and normalize the process in the child's gastrointestinal tract.
  • Lactase deficiency. Lactose intolerance, which is contained in milk, may cause a newborn to refuse food. No need to be upset if the child does not eat due to the lack of the necessary enzyme in the body. Lactase deficiency is treated, and this is not at all a reason to wean a child from the breast. A good pediatrician will prescribe treatment for the baby and help to cope with such difficulties.
  • Runny nose . If the baby has a stuffy nose, most likely he does not eat well or refuses to eat at all. Eliminating congestion of the respiratory tract, you normalize the process of feeding.
  • Thrush and/or inflammation in the mouth is a common ailment in infants. Small white sores, plaque and redness of the mucosa indicate an inflammatory process in the oral cavity that prevents the baby from receiving milk normally.
  • Teething . If the baby's first teeth began to cut, then this painful and unpleasant moment can greatly affect the child's appetite.
  • Taste of mother's milk . If a nursing mother ate some kind of spicy or strong-smelling product, then this immediately affects the taste of milk. Garlic, various spices can change the taste of food familiar to the child and lead to loss of appetite in the baby.
  • Lactational mastitis in a nursing mother. Inflammation of the mammary gland, pain and induration, fever can be symptoms of this disease. The child in this case loses its appetite and refuses to breastfeed. At the first symptoms of mastitis, the mother should definitely consult a doctor.
  • Hypothyroidism in newborns. Reduced thyroid function in infants leads to mental and physical retardation, as well as loss of appetite. Pediatric endocrinologist will be able to determine the presence or absence of this disease in the baby.
  • Otitis. If the baby starts to eat, and immediately throws a bottle or breast with crying, raises his hands to his ears, turns his head - this may indicate inflammation in the ears, in which it is painful for the child to swallow. Otitis media must be treated in pediatric ENT doctor .

It is rather difficult to spontaneously get an appointment with a pediatric specialist in St. Petersburg. If you urgently need to show your baby to a doctor, you can make an appointment with a pediatrician at the Medicenter Medical Center, where in a calm and friendly atmosphere the baby will be carefully examined and the mother will be asked in detail by a sensitive pediatric specialist with many years of experience working with children. If necessary, he can send the baby for additional examinations, tests and cultures, which can also be taken at our center or call the children's specialists of our center at home.

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Newborn sleeps a lot and eats little - Newborn sleeps a lot and eats a lot

Almost every woman at the stage of pregnancy imagines how her life will change, what her baby will be like and how their joint days will be organized.

And conceived, the expectant mother builds in her imagination a certain “ideal” picture, supported by images of the media and commercials - a constantly smiling or sweetly sleeping baby.

Undoubtedly, the little ones sleep really sweetly and smile with the most sincere smile. But this is not always the case.


The first month, and even the first three months of a child's life is called the period of "carrying out" - the stage of adaptation of the baby to the outside world, as well as the young mother getting used to new living conditions, to her new role, to the changed rules of life associated with the birth of a baby.

Many young mothers prepared for the birth of a baby already know a lot thanks to the availability of information about the psychophysiology of the newborn.

And, of course, when a mother has information about how much sleep a small child should have, she somehow expects this from her baby too.

Let us remind you that a healthy full-term baby of the first year of life sleeps about 15-18 hours a day. Of these, 8-10 occur at night and 6-9 during the day. In fact, a newborn baby sleeps a lot of the time - most of the day.

The period of wakefulness in a baby from birth is quite short - 20 minutes, increasing by the end of the first month of life to 45 minutes (maximum - up to an hour).

Most of the time a child is awake, especially during the first weeks of life, spends with his mother in the process of feeding - when he does not sleep, he eats.

Breastfed babies need to be fed every 1.5 hours during the day (maximum 3) and every 3 hours at night (maximum 5). Such time intervals are due to the small volume of the newborn's stomach and the rapid digestibility of breast milk, the child needs to eat often.

Lack of food for more than 3 hours during the day and more than 5 hours at night is dangerous and fraught with dehydration of the child, and besides, if a small child sleeps without waking up for so long, this is an occasion to more closely monitor his condition and tell the pediatrician about it.

All this information is in the public domain, and after reading it, young mothers experience a whole range of feelings - from surprise to fear and confusion at the slightest deviation from the "norm" if her baby does not fit into them, for example, he is awake a lot and eat a lot or, conversely, eat little.


Let's take a closer look, because often the concepts of "little" and "constantly" are quite subjective criteria.

  1. It is important to know that the baby on the breast can sleep while sucking - in this case the baby can sleep, although the mother may identify this period as being awake.

  1. Hour count. In this case, it is better not to focus on subjective feelings. It often seems to tired and sleep-deprived parents that “the child did not sleep at all,” although if you count the hours objectively, you can find out that this is not the case. To calculate sleep time, you can use programs for smartphones, for example, Baby Tracker or any other adapted for these tasks. Recording the baby's sleep hours will help the mother know for sure how many hours he sleeps.


Baby sleep from 0 to 3 months



A bit of theory about the physiology of breastfeeding. In the first three months of life, lactation is established in a breastfeeding mother. Milk comes on the 3rd-5th day of a baby's life. During this period, the colostrum that the baby ate immediately after birth changes its composition and becomes early (transitional) milk. During this period, the arrival of milk is still completely controlled by physiology - the endocrine system of the woman's body, it will remain even if the mother does not feed. And it is this period that is extremely important for establishing lactation - it is very important to put the baby to the breast as often as possible so that he eats, and that, thanks to sucking, receptors sensitive to prolactin are established in the mammary gland. On the second or third week (6-13 days after birth), milk becomes late transitional and only by 14-23 days - mature. Thus, lactation gradually shifts from endocrine control to autocrine control (controlled by the frequency of suckling). This means that the more the baby will breastfeed and eat, the more milk he will receive and vice versa - the less often he eats, the greater the likelihood of lactostasis and a decrease in milk in the breast.

Thus, the baby, by frequent sucking, stimulates the mammary gland to produce milk - this is the most important process that is absolutely normal and correct from the point of view of the physiology of the postpartum period of both the mother and the newborn.


What to do if, using observations and time-counting programs, it turns out that the baby is awake more than normal and does not stop breastfeeding.

First of all, it is important to consult with the attending pediatrician and possibly a neurologist to make sure that the baby does not have neurological and physiological health problems.

Many children sleep restlessly and stay awake more than the norm if they had some difficulties during childbirth (entanglement, hypoxia), separation from their mother in the postpartum period, and so on. In this case, they especially need constant contact with their mother in order to sleep peacefully.

It is also important to make sure that the sleeping conditions are organized correctly - the room for sleeping is sufficiently ventilated, not hot (no more than 22 degrees), sufficiently humid (50-60%), the baby does not overheat during sleep (comfortable pajamas for the season, no cap ).


  1. Recreating the conditions of the uterus - tightness (sleep in a cradle, in a sleeping bag or in a sling), darkness, motion sickness.
  2. Feeding on demand. At this age, the baby can be fed as often as desired, without adhering to the feeding regimen. He can eat quite often.
  3. Maximum contact between baby and mother
  4. Sleeping next to mum in side crib with side down promotes closeness between mum and baby and is safe.

Advice for Worried Moms:

Many new moms often worry about “norms” and get frightened when things don't go the way they should.

  1. The first recommendation for all new mothers is to ignore the norms, especially those that are inherent in the children of girlfriends. Every baby, like every mother-baby couple, every family is unique and what is normal for her is not necessarily normal for you. You will have your own rules. Sleep standards are a guideline. The main criterion is the well-being of your baby. It is important to help him fall asleep not when "it's time", but when you notice his signs of fatigue. Time limits are just a guideline.

  1. The same goes for feeding.

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