4 Reasons Why Baby always Dribbles milk while Feeding

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Are you worried about your baby dribbling milk from the corner of the mouth rather than drinking? Here are reasons and what you should do if the baby always dribbles milk while bottle or breastfeeding.

Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding a baby, there is a learning curve for both mom and baby. Some babies are born with skills to latch on or bottle feed from day one, while others take days to master the skill of breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

It is concerning for new mothers to see their baby dribbling milk from the corner of the mouth while feeding rather than drinking. Are they not getting enough to eat? Are they hungry all the time? – are some of the questions you start asking yourself.

In this article, we talk about possible reasons your baby always dribbles milk while bottle or breastfeeding and tips on how to stop the baby from dribbling milk so your baby gets more milk in the tummy and not on the burp cloth.

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Why does Baby always Dribble milk while feeding?

In general, babies are messy eaters, whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Therefore, you always need to have a burp cloth or washcloth prepped up before you begin feeding your baby.

Even when they master the skill of feeding when they are a little older, they still dribble milk from time to time.

So, your baby dribbling milk may not be the cause of concern other than a simple laundry problem.  

But when you see your baby dribbling milk each feeding over the days or weeks, you may worry about whether they are getting enough to eat. If they are dribbling a large amount of breast milk or formula at each feeding, they are not swallowing enough milk to keep up with their early age growth requirement.

One of the medical reasons your breastfed or bottle-fed baby is always dribbling milk while feeding is tongue-tie.

Babies with tongue ties have restricted tongue mobility, making it harder for them to latch on to the breast or bottle correctly. And this will result in babies leaking milk from the corner of their mouth rather than getting enough to eat.

Let’s look at possible reasons why a baby always dribbles milk while breastfeeding and bottle feeding in detail.

Baby Always Dribbles Milk while Breastfeeding

There are two main reasons why breastfed baby always dribbles milk while breastfeeding.

Tongue-tie

Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a medical condition that some babies are born with. An unusually short and thick band of tissue tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the bottom of the baby’s mouth, restricting its movement.

So, babies with tongue-tie have difficulty latching on to the breast correctly while feeding cause milk to dribble from the corner of the mouth.

Getting the baby to latch properly on the breast is the first step for successfully breastfeeding a baby, followed by a coordinated suck-swallow-breathe pattern once a proper latch is achieved.

But babies with tongue-tie have difficulty sticking their tongues out, affecting the way they swallow breast milk. This restricted tongue movement will cause milk to dribble milk from the corner of the mouth.

So, if you think your baby dribbles milk while breastfeeding or nursing because of tongue-tie, talk to your pediatrician or lactation consultant. They will evaluate the baby’s mouth anatomy and suggest a course of action.  

Tongue-tie is a very common condition among newborns, and it can be fixed by a small surgical procedure.

How to identify if your Baby has Tongue-tie?

In addition to baby dribbling milk while nursing, tongue tie makes breastfeeding difficult.

Breastfeeding requires a baby to keep their tongue over the lower gum while sucking at the breast. If they cannot keep the tongue in the right position, they will bite or chew on the nipple rather than suck on it. This will cause significant pain, and you will be able to judge that something is not right while breastfeeding.  

And because a baby with tongue-tie is dribbling milk while nursing and getting enough nutrition, they will fail to thrive.

Newborns are required to meet certain growth expectations by they are a few weeks old. For example, in the first 4-5 days after birth, the baby loses 5-10% of their birth weight, but by the 2 weeks, they regain it.

So, if you notice your baby not gaining weight at about 2 weeks and has fewer wet and soiled diapers, it is an indication that your baby might have tongue-tie.

Oversupply of Breast milk

If you think your baby’s moth anatomy is not a problem for your baby dribbling milk, you might want to check your milk supply.

Some mamas have an overabundance of milk supply due to engorgement, or they are naturally blessed with it. Oversupply of milk or fast let-down will frustrate your baby at the breast as they can not handle the milk flow, resulting in the baby dribbling milk from the corner of the mouth.

Oversupply of breast milk is frustrating for mothers as they will need to unlatch and latch their baby every time they have let down while nursing to make it manageable for their babies.

Here are some of the indications of oversupply of breast milk

Baby Always Dribbles Milk while Bottle feeding

Tongue-tie and flow of the milk are two common reasons why a baby dribbles milk while bottle feeding. Whether you are feeding expressed breast milk or formula in a bottle, if your baby can not handle the milk flow or has a tongue tie, they are likely to dribble milk while bottle feeding.  

Tongue-tie

As mentioned earlier, tongue-tie is a medical condition where a thick piece of tissue is tethered between the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth, making it difficult for the baby to suck while feeding.

So, even when feeding on the bottle (which is comparatively easy for babies to get milk from than breasts), they can’t suck properly from the nipple. And this will lead to dribbling milk from the corner of the mouth while bottle feeding.

Wrong size nipple

Newborn babies are not used to the fast flow of the nipple. So, if you are not using a newborn nipple for your baby, they will get frustrated with milk flow and dribble milk while bottle feeding.

Nipple comes in varying shapes and sizes, and depending on your baby, you need to choose the size of a nipple.

The way you bottle-feed your baby

Just like breastfeeding, you also need to learn how to bottle feed. It is not as easy as it seems. The way you hold the bottle makes a big difference in how fast the milk flows from the nipple.

So, if you are holding the bottle in a vertical position in your baby’s mouth, your baby will get more milk from the milk that they can’t handle, resulting in dribbling milk while feeding.

In addition, before you decide that your baby is dribbling milk from the corner of the mouth while feeding, check how you assemble the part of your bottle after washing.

Sometimes, you might not have assembled the nipple and other parts of your anti-colic bottle (which requires special attention during assembly), causing milk to spill over the place while feeding rather than from your baby’s mouth. It happens! (It’s a mom thing)

How to Stop Baby from Dribbling milk while Feeding?

It is frustrating for moms to see their baby dribbling milk rather than consuming it, as we all want our babies to get maximum goodness of the last drops of our precious breast milk or formula for them to strive.

So, when they are always dribbling milk while feeding, here is what you need to do to stop them.

Get tongue tie corrected

If your baby is not gaining enough weight and has been diagnosed with tongue-tie, you need to get your baby’s tongue tie corrected surgically. It will improve their daily feeding experience and prevent speech and dental-related problems later in life.  

The Solution for Fast Milk Flow/Oversupply of breast milk

If you think you have an oversupply of breast milk, you need to adjust your milk supply to make it manageable for your baby. Here is what you need to do,

  • Pump some milk or hand express some milk before breastfeeding your baby
  • Put your baby to the breast after first you have had your first let-down
  • Unlatch your baby when you have a letdown while nursing. Catch the excess milk leak from the letdown onto a towel, and once let down, slow latch your baby again.    
  • If you think you have an overabundance of milk supply, apply cabbage leaf to your breast to reduce the amount of breast milk you are producing. However, talk to your lactation consultation before trying to reduce your milk supply.

Try Different Nipple Size and shape

Using a smaller nipple size will help stop the dribbling of milk as it will control the flow of the milk into the mouth at a time. And if your baby has difficulty latching on to the nipple you are using, try changing the shape of the nipple to a more ‘breast-like nipple’ to reduce spills.

Paced feed your Baby

Paced bottle feeding is an approach to bottle-feeding a baby physiologically similar to breastfeeding at the breast.

In paced bottle feeding, you hold your baby in an upright/reclined position (like you do while breastfeeding) and hold the bottle horizontally so milk from the bottle is not pouring into the baby’s mouth.

Paced bottle feeding allows the baby to control the milk flow and set the feeding pace, thereby minimizing spilling milk from the mouth. Paced bottle feeding also reduced gas and colic in bottle feed baby. Check out the detailed article on how to paced bottle feed a baby here.

Baby always Dribbles milk while Bottle or Breastfeeding: Conclusion

I hope this article helped you figure out why a baby always dribbles milk while feeding. Usually, tongue-tie is the main medical reason for a baby dribbling a large amount of milk from the corner of the mouth. If you suspect that is the case, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant and get it fixed. All the other reasons for baby dribbling milk while feeding can be easily fixed once you know the cause.

Good much, Mama!

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