Baby coughs during feeding

Help! My Baby Is Choking on Milk!

Many parents look forward to feeding time with their baby. It’s a chance to bond and also gives you a few minutes of peace and quiet.

But for some, bottle feeding or breastfeeding can lead to gagging or choking sounds, which are alarming if you’re a new parent. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help prevent your baby from choking on milk or formula.

If your baby seems to gag a lot while eating, don’t panic. “Choking and gagging during feeding is common in young infants,” says Robert Hamilton, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.

Hamilton says babies are born with an exaggerated but protective “hyper-gag reflex,” which can cause gagging while feeding. Plus, babies gag easily due to their own neurologic immaturity.

“Babies are growing and learning new ways to use their body (and mouths) every day,” says Amanda Gorman, CPNP and founder of Nest Collaborative, a collection of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants.

“Often, just stopping the feed and positioning the baby upright with good head and neck support will give them a few seconds to manage the problem.”

Gina Posner, MD, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center, says if your baby begins to choke, let them stop feeding for a little bit and pat their back. “Typically, if they’re choking on liquids, it will resolve quickly,” she says.

The most common reason a baby chokes during breastfeeding is that milk is coming out faster than your baby can swallow. Usually, this happens when mom has an oversupply of milk.

According to the La Leche League International (LLLI), common signs of oversupply include restlessness at the breast, coughing, choking, or gulping milk, especially at let down, and biting on the nipple to stop the flow of milk, among others.

You might also have an overactive let down, which causes a forceful flow of milk into your baby’s mouth. When your breasts are stimulated by your baby suckling, oxytocin causes the let-down reflex that releases the milk.

If you have an overactive or forceful let down, this release happens too fast for your baby to respond appropriately, causing them to gulp or choke while breastfeeding.

How do I prevent my baby from choking on milk when breastfeeding?

One of the first things you can do to help prevent your baby from choking while eating is to change the feeding position.

“For breastfeeding mothers who appear to have overactive let down, we typically recommend they nurse in a laid-back position, which reverses gravity’s effect and allows baby to have more control,” says Gorman.

Posner recommends pulling your baby off the breast every once in a while to help them catch their breath and slow down. You can also take your baby off the breast for 20 to 30 seconds when your milk first lets down.

In addition to a laid-back position, the LLL recommends lying on your side so your baby can allow milk to dribble out of his mouth when it flows too quickly.

Furthermore, expressing milk for 1 to 2 minutes before bringing your baby to your breast can help. Doing so allows the forceful let down to happen before baby latches. That said, be careful with this technique, as pumping for too long will tell your body to make more milk and worsen the problem.

When your baby gags when drinking from a bottle, it’s often due to the positioning. Lying your baby on their back while bottle feeding will lead to a faster milk flow, making it harder for your baby to control the rate of feeding.

“Tilting the bottom of the bottle higher than the nipple increases the rate of milk flow, as will a nipple with too large of a hole for the infant’s age,” Gorman advises. Tilting the bottle too high can lead to involuntary increases in intake and contribute to problems like reflux.

Instead, when bottle-feeding an infant, try using a technique called paced bottle-feeding. “By keeping the bottle parallel to the ground, the baby remains in control of the milk flow, as they are at the breast,” Gorman says.

This technique allows your baby to actively pull milk out of the bottle using their sucking skills and lets them easily take a break when needed. Otherwise, gravity is in control.

For babies who are bottle-fed by multiple caregivers, Gorman says all of the people who administer feeds should be educated on paced bottle-feeding.

Finally, you should never prop the bottle up to feed your baby and walk away. Since they can’t control the flow of the milk, it will keep coming even if your baby is not ready to swallow.

“The mechanism of swallowing is complicated and requires several muscle groups working together in concert and in the right time sequence,” Hamilton says. Fortunately, gagging usually diminishes as children get older and become better at swallowing.

Still, if you’re a new parent or caregiver, it’s smart to take infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). While rare, a choking episode that caused your baby to turn blue or lose consciousness would be an emergency.

If you’re having problems related to breastfeeding, contact a LLL leader or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). They can help you with your baby’s latch, positioning, oversupply issues, and forceful let-down problems.

If you’re having problems related to bottle feeding, contact your child’s pediatrician. They can help you with bottle and nipple selection, as well as feeding positions that prevent choking on milk or formula.

If your baby continues to choke even after slowing down the rate of feeding, you should contact your pediatrician to rule out any anatomical reasons why swallowing may be challenging.

When you hear your baby gagging or choking during feeding, don’t panic. Take baby off the nipple and prop them up to help them clear their airway.

Often it will take a little time for your baby to learn suckle with ease. In the meantime, try keeping your baby upright during feedings and make the flow of milk slower, if possible. Soon enough, feeding time will be a sweet snuggle session!

Why Do Newborns Cough While Breastfeeding? Experts Explain


Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Why it happens, and what you can do about it.

by Abi Berwager Schreier


Originally Published: 

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your baby successfully latching for the first time after you’ve given birth. Perhaps the only thing that tops that feeling is the euphoric tingling feeling you get once your milk lets down for the first time — thanks, oxytocin. However, some new parents experience a jolt of something unexpected in those first nursing sessions — their newborn baby coughing breast milk while nursing.

If you’re noticing your newborn choking while breastfeeding, it’s understandable that you might feel extremely worried or feel like something might be wrong. However, it’s likely that the issue is resolvable and is not indicative of any major issues. These tips and tricks will help your newborn stop coughing while breastfeeding so everyone can enjoy this lovely bonding experience for what it’s supposed to be.

Why do newborns cough while breastfeeding?

One of the most common reasons babies choke on breast milk is oversupply, says Leigh Anne O’Connor, an international board-certified lactation consultant. A “fast let down,” or forceful letdown can also sometimes cause newborns to cough or seem to choke on breast milk, says Deedee Franke, a registered nurse and international board-certified lactation consultant. A forceful letdown and oversupply are common breastfeeding issues and often go hand-in-hand.

Catherine Delahaye/Stone/Getty Images

What is oversupply?

When you make more milk than a baby needs, this is considered an oversupply. Other than noticing that your baby coughs or gags while breastfeeding, other signs you may have oversupply include the baby clamping down on your nipple to stop the rapid flow of milk. Ouch. A forceful letdown is when your milk comes out too fast and forcefully.

Babies can choke on breastmilk, but “babies have a strong gag reflex so they can typically manage the flow by coughing and by pulling off your breast,” O’Connor says. Although it’s not dangerous, seeing your baby cough, gag or pull away from your breast can be pretty scary or even a bit painful, so it’s important to figure out ways to prevent newborn choking while breastfeeding.

How to keep a newborn from choking while breastfeeding

There are a couple of ways to help with struggles associated with oversupply and forceful letdown, according to Franke. First, try simply changing up your breastfeeding position. A laid back position or a side-lying breastfeeding position may be more successful and comfortable for baby if you have a forceful letdown.

Caia Image/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

A laid back breastfeeding position is pretty self-explanatory, in that you literally lay back a bit while nursing your baby. You want to find a way to be in a slightly reclined position to feed your baby, and this can be done leaning against a partner or using a reclining chair. If you want to try the side-lying breastfeeding position, you’ll need a flat surface to lay on, whether it’s a bed, a large couch, or even the floor. Laying on your side, keep your head and back in a straight line, and put your head on your pillow or cradled in your arm. Place baby on their side, facing you, and guide your nipple into the baby's mouth.

“With the guidance of an IBCLC, a lactating parent may choose to pump or hand express before offering the breast,” suggests Dr. Natasha Burgert, a board-certified pediatrician. “This limits the volume of milk accessible during the feed or triggers the first (often fastest) letdown with the pump. Often, the baby can more comfortably latch and nurse after the short pumping session is complete.”

Signs of a forceful letdown or oversupply

It can be somewhat challenging to know for sure if you have a true oversupply issue or forceful letdown. If you suspect you might, it’s best to meet with a lactation consultant and get some one-on-one advice. But, baby coughing or choking while breastfeeding can indicate oversupply, and you can watch for other indicators, like if you notice:

  • Baby is pulling down or away from breasts
  • Breast milk leaking from the baby’s mouth
  • Your baby wiggling or startling while nursing, prior to coughing

“Coughing is the last sign,” says Franke. Your baby may even get wide-eyed and stop nursing if your breast milk is flowing too fast for them, O’Connor adds.

If your newborn is coughing while breastfeeding, try not to worry, Franke says. Over time, your breast milk flow and production will regulate to meet your baby’s needs more precisely and your baby will likely get better at transferring milk, too. Otherwise, try changing up your nursing position and hand-express your breasts before latching. And, if the issue does not resolve, it may be helpful to make an appointment with a lactation consultant who can offer further guidance and support.


Dr. Natasha Burgert, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician

Leigh Anne O’Connor, international board-certified lactation consultant

Deedee Franke, registered nurse and international board-certified lactation consultant

This article was originally published on

Why does a baby cough during sleep or after feeding -

Cough in newborns can be physiological (natural) in nature. This is related to the developmental stage of the respiratory tract. It is absolutely normal and should not cause concern if the baby coughs about 15 times a day.

Article content:

  • What is dangerous cough in a newborn baby
  • If the baby constantly coughs during sleep
  • Symptom associated with coryza
  • Symptom associated with wheezing
  • If the problem occurs after feeding
  • How can you treat your baby

Why is the baby coughing?

Cause of cough in infants may lie in absolutely natural phenomena for this age:

  • Too long lying on the back.
  • Baby cannot swallow saliva.
  • The body has not adapted to the natural secretions of the bronchi.
  • Expectoration of milk residues.
  • In the air of the room there are elements that irritate the mucous membranes (chemicals, dust, tobacco smoke).

[note] Parents should pay attention and monitor the child's condition. If the cough is accompanied by other disturbing symptoms or is too strong, prolonged, then the child is ill. Duration of more than 3 days should alert. With ARVI or the initial stage of bronchitis, a dry cough after 3 days is replaced by the appearance of a small amount of sputum. What is bronchitis, find out in detail on our website. In this case, the doctor should determine the course of treatment, because the wrong choice of drugs or delay in starting therapy can lead to serious complications.

  • Barking, dry cough may indicate the development of laryngitis . In the case of infants, parents should immediately call an ambulance. The airways and pharynx of a baby at this age are very different from the structure of an adult's organs. In an infant, this disease can cause suffocation.
  • A wet cough also requires specialist treatment, but is less dangerous. As a rule, this symptom accompanies a cold or runny nose . In this case, the coughing fits are more intense in the morning due to the accumulation of mucus that begins to drain down the back of the larynx.
  • Cough may be a symptom of cardiac pathology . Also, it often accompanies an allergic reaction, which, according to the latest research by scientists, is the main cause of the development of bronchial asthma and other serious diseases.
  • In recent years, doctors have observed a significant increase in the number of babies born with congenital pneumonia . A prolonged wet, debilitating and gurgling cough should be a signal to immediately contact a pediatrician.

At such a young age, a child cannot explain to his parents what worries him. Sometimes, a cough becomes the only signal of a health problem. Many diseases that manifest in this way need to be treated at an early stage. Timely and correctly chosen therapy can completely cure the baby. Delay or incorrect diagnosis can lead to serious consequences.

[note] What to do if the baby coughs? Calling an ambulance with every sneeze or cough, of course, is not worth it. Parents should monitor the general condition of the baby, compare it with other symptoms and correctly understand their cause. [/ note]

If the baby is constantly coughing during sleep

  • Perhaps the baby has started teething . This period is characterized by abundant salivation. It flows down the throat and can provoke a cough.
  • The baby may cough in his sleep due to too dry air in the room during the heating season. In this case, humidification with the help of special devices will help. You can just hang wet terry towels on the batteries for the night.
  • The cause may be an allergy to dust or fluff or wool in the baby's bed. Harmful cough-causing substances can be found in laundry detergent and even furniture. It is important to try to identify the allergen and eliminate it, then the cough will pass by itself.
  • The horizontal position of in case of a cold can also cause coughing in young children. It is not necessary to exclude the onset of a disease that requires a visit to a doctor.

Coughing in children is sometimes a sign of incipient pharyngitis. Learn about the symptoms and treatment of pharyngitis in children.

Read about the use of cocoa butter for treating cough here.

Symptom associated with a runny nose

If the baby coughs and sneezes, most often the combination of these symptoms indicates the development of a cold or infection in the upper respiratory tract . It is important to monitor the general condition of the baby. Fever, lack of appetite, capriciousness and lethargy will serve as a signal to call a doctor immediately.

The reason may also be allergic reaction , dry air and harmless excess mucus , which the baby still cannot swallow. Read about the reasons for the accumulation of mucus in the throat of a child here.

Symptom combined with wheezing

It happens that the baby coughs and wheezes. The combination of these symptoms should alert parents. In most cases, this indicates the beginning of an inflammatory process in the airways . They can be caused by a common cold, but a bacterial or viral infection is also possible. These diseases require treatment with antibacterial drugs in stationary conditions.

If the problem occurs after feeding

The baby often coughs during or after feeding. The reason may be excessive lactation in the mother. In this case, try changing the position of feeding so that the baby has time to spit out the milk in time, without breaking away from the mother's breast.

Cough after feeding may precede belching . This is normal. Perhaps the baby was very hungry or, due to an excellent appetite, ate too quickly and caught air. In this case, also after feeding, a cough may appear.

Let's figure out what and how to safely treat a cough in a baby.

How to treat your baby

Parents have every right to know what drugs are prescribed for children with diseases manifested by cough, but only a doctor can determine the course of treatment for a baby in each case.

For the treatment of cough in infants prescribe:

  • Mucolytics .
  • Antitussives .
  • In urgent need antibiotics .
  • Will help inhalation ordinary water vapor. To do this, it is enough to turn on hot water in the bathroom and let the baby breathe in moist, warm air. In the absence of allergies, it is allowed to add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the bath. Find out if eucalyptus essential oil is suitable for inhalation.
  • At night, you can put a container with a decoction of chamomile, sage and thyme or a mixture of these herbs near the baby's bed . Vapors will help to survive the night without coughing fits and will have a restorative effect.
  • It is necessary to treat cough not only in children, but also in adults. Read on our website about cough treatment.

    You will learn about a banana against cough in this article.

    How to use honey for dry cough, read at

  • Warm wraps are used to loosen sputum in the bronchi. For this procedure, you can use heated sunflower oil. It should wet the diaper, wrap the baby, wrap the top with plastic wrap. Wraps are best done at night.
  • Drinking plenty of water is the most important moment of any therapy. Babies can prepare a weak decoction of chamomile. Every mother knows about the benefits of dill water for the digestion of a baby. But dill tea is also extremely effective in inflammatory and infectious diseases.
  • The pediatrician will surely advise other homeopathic and folk remedies . At such a young age, they should also be taken only on the recommendation and under the supervision of a specialist.

What to do if a baby or an older child coughs, in the video below Dr. Komarovsky will tell.

How to breastfeed - Tips for feeding with and without a bottle from Philips-Ukraine

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    Like all the best things in life, breastfeeding can be both exciting and daunting. Preparing for breastfeeding brings many delightful moments, but for many mothers-to-be, they are overshadowed by thoughts about the problems that breastfeeding can bring. Understand that concerns are part of the process, but clear answers to questions about breastfeeding will help you calm down and gain confidence and peace of mind.

    Is your baby not latch on? Are your nipples cracked? Are you experiencing pain while breastfeeding? Know you are not alone. On this page you will find tips and tricks to help you solve these problems. We are always there and ready to help, but our advice does not replace the advice of your doctor. If you are concerned about problems with breastfeeding, be sure to consult with a specialist.

    1. "My baby can't latch"

    Baby needs time to learn how to latch on properly. Don't be too hard on yourself, you'll be fine. A baby's inability to latch on properly is one of the most common breastfeeding problems and one of the reasons why breastfeeding sometimes hurts.

    If your baby does not latch on, you may have problems. When, despite efforts, you are unable to achieve proper fixation of the nipple, you need to seek help. How to understand that the baby takes the breast incorrectly?

    • You feel pain in your nipples while breastfeeding.
    • Baby only latch on to the nipple.
    • The baby draws in his lips.
    • Baby makes clicking noises or smacks loudly.
    • The child is nervous after trying to feed.
    • Your milk supply decreases over time even though you feed regularly.
    • The baby is losing weight.

    Here are some breastfeeding tips to help your newborn learn to latch on properly:

    • Create a calm atmosphere. The secret to successful feeding is to always stay calm and relaxed. Lie down on a bed with pillows under your back, or sit in a comfortable chair.
    • Make skin-to-skin contact with baby . Place your baby on your bare chest so that his skin touches yours. Body contact will help both of you relax.
    • Don't force your baby to breastfeed. Let him take the initiative during feeding. You will want to guide and support the child in his efforts, but in no case force this process.
    • Find a comfortable position. Sometimes it's all about position. Some positions work, others don't. Try to vary them during feeding and find one in which it will be easier for your baby to latch onto the breast.
    • Use correct technique. Place your nipple on your baby's nose and lightly tickle it to activate his instinct. Then the baby will open his mouth wide and will be able to capture most of the areola.


    "My nipples hurt"

    You may experience sore nipples in the first few days after giving birth. But that doesn't mean you have to endure the pain. Breastfeeding pain can have several causes, from skin sensitivity to uncomfortable nursing positions. The following tips will help you solve the problem in the first few days:

    • Express milk. It is very important that the baby emptys the breast completely during feeding. If you feel that after feeding you have milk left, it is better to express it.
    • Get into the correct starting position. Make sure your baby latch on properly during feeding. With proper feeding, the nipple and the lower part of the areola are in the baby's mouth.
    • Try hot and cold compresses. Use a gel pad to cool your breasts or apply a warm compress. Compresses combined with massage will help relieve inflammation of the nipples.

    If the pain persists, seek the advice of a lactation specialist who can help you choose the right treatment. Don't let the problem run its course. If timely action is not taken, milk production may decrease or mastitis may develop.

    3. "My nipples are cracked"

    Another problem well known to breastfeeders is cracked nipples. It often occurs as a result of a shallow latch on the breast, when the baby does not latch on enough breast tissue and instead sucks only on the nipple. As a result, the nipples become inflamed and cracks appear on them. Measures should be taken in a timely manner to relieve pain and eliminate the risk of infection.

    Here are some tips to help relieve sore nipples and make breastfeeding comfortable for you and your baby:

    • Wet nipples with expressed breast milk. Don't be surprised! Breast milk can be successfully used to heal cracked nipples. Apply a few drops of breast milk to sore nipples and let it dry naturally.
    • Stimulate milk flow before feeding. Apply a warm compress to the inflamed area and express before feeding. This will stimulate the flow of milk.
    • Protect your sore nipples with a protective pad. During the treatment of sore nipples, wear special pads. They can help relieve chest pain while breastfeeding. In addition, nipple shields will relieve any discomfort you may experience while breastfeeding. After each feeding session, apply a special cream to the nipples, it will moisturize the nipples and help relieve inflammation.
    • Protect your nipples between feedings. Use special pads to protect sore nipples from chafing on clothing between feedings. Place pads in your bra cups to help prevent nipple irritation. In addition, the pads will collect excess milk. Bra pads can be used to avoid stains from breast milk.
    • Choose the best feeding position . Usually, in order to keep the baby at chest level, it is enough to put a pillow. You can choose any other position, as long as it does not cause pain and cracking of the nipples.
    • Feel free to ask for help . If the cracks don't heal or you have other problems, don't hesitate to ask for help. Talk to your doctor.

    4. “My baby is coughing while breastfeeding”

    New mothers usually experience a strong flow of breast milk during lactation. If the flow is too strong at the time of feeding, the baby begins to choke, cough or spit up milk. Usually this problem disappears on its own when milk production stabilizes, but it is good to know a little trick to help control the situation:

    • Scissorhands technique. Control the flow during feeding by gently pinching the nipple between your index and middle fingers and applying pressure to the areola.
    • Reclining position or pumping before feeding. To reduce milk flow, try feeding your baby in a semi-recumbent position. Expressing small amounts of milk before feeding will also help reduce flow

    5. “I have flat or inverted nipples”

    Every woman's body is beautiful in its own way, and no two pairs of breasts are the same. Women's nipples come in many shapes and sizes. For some they are flat, for others they are retracted, for others they are large.

    It is important for a successful feeding that the baby latch on well. Extra effort is required to help the baby latch on to an inverted or flat nipple. If you are the owner of such nipples, know that in fact you are not alone: ​​up to 10% of women have a similar feature 1 . Here are some helpful tips for breastfeeding moms with flat or inverted nipples.

    • Help yourself with your fingers . Try to grab the nipple with your fingers and pull it back.
    • Consult a doctor. If you are concerned about the condition of the nipples, do not hesitate to contact a specialist.

    Take good care of your breasts

    If you feel pain or discomfort when breastfeeding, know that it happens, but this is not a reason to endure gritting your teeth. Whether it's your first breastfeeding or your fourth, the mother-baby duet sounds different each time, and each new feeding experience is unlike the last. If you learn how to properly care for your breasts, the process of feeding will bring you real pleasure.

    Getting to know your baby every day is part of the amazing journey of motherhood. Breastfeeding will allow you and your baby to experience many precious moments together, enjoying intimacy and well-being.



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