Why Do Babies Get Milk Drunk?

Peanut
Peanutlast month4 min read

Cuddling a full, happy, milk drunk baby is one of the highlights of the newborn days. But why does it happen? We’ve got the science here.

Milk Drunk

There are many glorious things about the newborn phase.

And watching your baby get milk drunk has to be one of the funniest and most satisfying.

So what is milk drunk?

And why does it happen?











Grab a seat, and let’s find out.

This one’s on us.

In this article: 📝

  • How do you know when a baby is milk drunk?
  • Does being milk drunk mean a baby is full?
  • Why does my baby get milk drunk?
  • Can babies get milk drunk every time they feed?
  • Do babies go floppy when they’re milk drunk?

How do you know when a baby is milk drunk?

Mamas talk about their babies being milk drunk when they fall asleep while they’re drinking.

And thankfully, we’re talking about a happy excess of breastmilk or formula here rather than anything stronger.

Babies are milk drunk when they’ve finished their feed, spat out the boob or the bottle, fallen mostly asleep, and relaxed their body completely.

Normally, babies’ hands are scrunched up for the first weeks of their life.

You probably noticed this if they were punching you when they started their feed.

A full, satisfied newborn opens their fists and spreads their fingers out.

Milk drunk babies can also look like they’re grinning, even before they give you their first social smile.

To complete the picture, they might even have a dribble of milk running down their chin.

Does being milk drunk mean a baby is full?

Almost always.

But if they were really tired when they started their feed and dropped off quickly, you might need to encourage them to wake up to finish it.

That way, they’ll have all the energy they’ll need when they rise and shine later.

Why does my baby get milk drunk?

So why do babies get milk drunk?

Because having a full belly makes them happy and relaxed.

It happens not because they’ve had too much to drink but because milk is more than just nutrition.

Whether through nursing, pumping, or formula, feeding means comfort and bonding with the adult taking care of them.

It’s the most important part of your baby’s day, so it’s no wonder they’re delighted when their job is done.

There’s also a chemical element at play here.

For mamas, feeding a baby releases oxytocin, which is the hormone associated with love and relaxation.

It’s triggered when the baby latches on and by skin to skin contact

(So there’s a hormone mood boost for mamas who choose to formula feed too.)

There’s also evidence that a baby’s brain releases its own oxytocin when they see or smell their mama.

So to recap, a milk drunk baby:

  • Has a warm, full belly.
  • Is being held in their favorite place in the world (a.k.a. your arms).
  • May be under the influence of oxytocin.

Can you really blame them for looking so chilled?

Can babies get milk drunk every time they feed?

In the beginning, some babies might get milk drunk after every feed, especially if you’re in the rhythm of feeding them before they’re due for a nap.

As much as we wish it could go on forever, babies are much less likely to look milk drunk once they’re past the 12-week milestone and are out of the newborn phase.

Don’t despair, mama!

Their newfound head control skills and general curiosity about the world might mean that their milk drunkenness is a thing of the past.

But there is a whole new phase to look forward to.

They’re almost ready to look up at your face and smile while feeding. 🥰

Do babies go floppy when they’re milk drunk?

Put simply, yes.

But when it comes to babies, ‘floppy’ isn’t a term that anyone likes to throw around without a caveat.

Milk drunk babies are floppy because they’re relaxed and sprawled in the arms of the person who just fed them.

And they’ll likely have a triumphant half-smile on their adorable faces.

That’s the good kind of floppy.

The bad kind is a baby who’s difficult to wake up and who isn’t responding to your voice, a change of position, or a diaper change.

This can be a sign that they’re very unwell.

It’s always a good idea to watch for warning signs like fever, sleeping too much, or a lot of spit-up after a feed.

But babies who are seriously ill normally refuse feeds.

If they’re drinking enough to get milk drunk, the chances are that a blissed-out, sprawled-out, “floppy” baby isn’t a reason to worry.

Watching your little one drink themselves silly is one of the perks of those newborn days.

So enjoy it, mama!

And whether they’re getting milk drunk on breastmilk or formula, be proud that you got them to their happy place.

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