Ask Amma

Baby hungry after feeding, spits up

In What on 17 February 2012 at 5:17 pm

My son drinks about 4 or 5 oz of expressed breastmilk and wakes up in an hour and fusses a lot. He acts hungry but if I try to feed he spits up. He won’t calm down with rocking, singing, diaper change, holding closely or anything else. Doctors tell me to let him cry and feed him once in three hours. If I feed him more often, what do I do about his spit up problem?
– mother of a 10-week old in California

As they say, spit-up is a laundry problem, not a health problem. If baby is gaining weight, don’t worry about the spit milk – it is usually not more than a couple of spoons. As you know, breastmilk is easily digested so there is nothing unusual about getting hungry again after an hour or even less. If the gap is too long the baby may get overly hungry and find it difficult to relax into the feeding.

Does he nap-nurse or nurse while asleep or nurse just as he is preparing to wake up? If you can feed him before he expresses full-blown hunger that may also help – it gives him more time to spend in the state of "quiet alertness" where he is not having to use his energy to get needs met, but can take interest in what is going on around him. There is no need to follow a timetable with regards to feeding, just offer the breast whenever you think of it and soon you will find the right rhythm.

Babies also need a lot of unconditional holding and carrying. And, sometimes, a loving shoulder to cry on. Even if we do not know why they are crying, they should not have to cry alone.

  1. Thanks for your response, Aravinda. I just wanted to add for the mother who had the question that at that age 10 weeks, my daughter used to also wake up VERY often even after I felt she had nursed just recently. This is just very normal. I just held her, tried to burp her and nursed her back to sleep. I would change any pediatrician who advises you to let your baby CRY and put a 10 week old on any “feeding schedule”! 🙂


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