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The different breastfeeding types

Do you recognise your baby in one of the breastfeeding personalities described here?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Before you know it, the nipple has disappeared in the hungry mouth and is being sucked enthusiastically. Babies who conform to this type know what they want – they latch on energetically, drink voraciously and only let go of the breast once they have had their fill. They are easy to breastfeed anytime, anywhere, and guaranteed to get enough milk, thanks to their big appetite. If your baby is one of those, make sure to put him or her on the breast carefully and as soon as you recognise the first signs of hunger. The hungrier the child, the more forcefully they will latch on, increasing the risk of soreness if your nipple is not in the right position against their gums. 

The Wriggly Worm

As soon as they have caught sight of the breast, little wrigglers get excited, flailing their arms and legs and busily sucking right and left. Who knows, maybe the milk tastes better on one side than on the other? This child embodies the joy of breastfeeding! However, make sure that your baby’s feeding frenzy doesn’t accidentally make life harder for him or her. Try and feed your baby straight after he or she has woken up, when they are still lying down, as this will curb their enthusiasm just a little. In their excitement, these babies have a tendency to swallow lots of air when drinking, so make sure you wind them properly after a feed to stave off tummy pains.  

The Gourmet

A delicacy such as breastmilk can’t just be gobbled up in a hurry – it should be enjoyed and appreciated at leisure. That’s the motto for gourmet babies, who often take twice as long for a feed as other babies. Gourmet babies drink slowly, regularly and won’t be rushed – they make sure they get everything they need at the breast. Don’t try and hurry your gourmet along! Your baby needs time to play with the nipple, have a little taste of the first few drops before digging into their feed properly, showing their appreciation with plenty of lip-smacking and sucking noises. Bear in mind that gourmet babies are easily distracted. A place full of nosy people is not a good place for breastfeeding a gourmet – a single interested look is enough to throw them off their game. When breastfeeding your gourmet in public, try shielding his or her head with a muslin cloth. The perfect scenario for little gourmets is a long, relaxed breastfeeding session alone with mummy, in the quiet of their own home. 

The Dreamer

Breastfeeding makes babies sleepy, and little dreamers especially so. They like to suck a little, have a little rest, suck a little more, rest a little more… and often take quite a while until they are full! Dreamers really relax while feeding. They don’t need a bedtime ritual, but simply doze off at the breast. They also find it easy to go back to sleep after a night feed. Be patient and try not to interrupt your baby’s feed – just because they like to take a rest in between doesn’t mean they have had enough. Try to feed them in an upright position as this will make it harder for them to fall asleep. When your baby has finished feeding on one side, change their nappy and offer them the other side. Try tickling your baby lightly on the back of their neck or on their feet, as this will help keep them awake during a feed and ensure that they have had enough milk to last a while when they drift off for good. 

The Procrastinator

These babies are often quite reluctant to breastfeed during the first few days and can hardly be bothered to latch on properly. Good as the milk tastes, getting to it is hard work, and these babies are easily put off! This is a worry for many new mothers – but in fact, procrastinators just need a little more time and should not be rushed into feeding. As soon as they have discovered the breast for themselves, they will feed, grow and thrive like other babies. All they need is a little more support to find out what works for them. 

Do you recognise your baby in any of these breastfeeding personalities? Or maybe your baby combines several of the behaviour patterns described here?

This is completely normal – after all, your baby has a unique, distinctive personality. When it comes to breastfeeding, there is no “right” and “wrong”. Whatever works for you and your baby is the right thing to do! Remember that the most important thing about breastfeeding is that you and your baby feel relaxed and happy during a feed. 

The following tips may help you:

  • Touch, wait, pull closer.
  • When breastfeeding, hold your child close to your body and make sure that they have latched on properly. 
  • Always change sides during breastfeeding, but only once your child lets go of the nipple, after at least 15 to 20 minutes of sucking and swallowing. 
  • Get to know the different breastfeeding positions and “practise” a little with your baby. 
  • Breastfeed exclusively and avoid dummies, nipple shields and giving additional formula at first. This will help your child establish a breastfeeding pattern that works for him or her. Make sure to let your nipples air-dry regularly after a feed.