How often do you breastfeed a newborn?

Janice - posted on 10/15/2010 ( 105 moms have responded )

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My son just turned 2 weeks old. How often should I breastfeed him? The nurse said to feed him every 2.5 to 3 hours? At night time, I can feed him every 3 hours since he sleep pretty well, however, during the day, especially in the morning, he seem very hungry and needs to be fed every hour. Should I wait for 2.5 hours before feed him or just feed him every hour? Please advise. Thanks.

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[deleted account]

You should feed him on demand, meaning as often as he wants. How often that is is different from baby to baby. Mine was literally attached to my breast for over four weeks! Feeding your baby often will build up your milk supply, so just trust his cues.

Jessie - posted on 10/16/2010

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I have a suggestion about the sucking for 5 minutes and falling asleep since my son was exactly like that. take a bath with him and nurse him in the tub. do it several times. I read it in the book I got from my breastfeeding class. for whatever reason he would stay awake and nurse his little heart out in the tub and I would have to stop him so we could get out before turning all wrinkly. eventually he got the hang of 'hey if I stay awake and nurse OUTSIDE of the tub, my tummy will be full" worked for me at least. (oh yeah and I had Daddy help, bring the naked baby to me in the tub and then take him and dry him up when ready to get out)

Sarh - posted on 10/15/2010

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Feed him as often as he wants!! My son was the same way! Those feedings every hour in the mornings is called cluster feedings. It is completely normal and he is doing so because he is a good sleeper. Congrats on the new baby and having an awesome sleeper!

Kristi - posted on 10/26/2010

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Congrats on your new baby! How exciting! The nurse was hopefully just giving you some guidelines to help while you are learning your son's feeding cues. He really shouldn't be going any longer than 2-3 hours at this age, but a breastfed baby should be fed on demand. This means you should get to know his little hunger signs. In newborns, watch for his head bobbing back and forth, lips opening like a fish, and small cries. Feed him whenever he wants, don't ever wait. You will get to know his habits, but be prepared for the habits to change as his needs adjust. Some days it might seem like he's never done! This is often called cluster feeding. During this time, don't despair! Find a comfy chair, put your feet up and catch up on a favorite show, magazine, or book. Let others pitch in during these times, and ask them not to expect much in the way of housework. Your job is to grow that baby! :) If you find yourself feeling overtired, be sure to make sure you are eating properly and getting enough rest. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Take him to bed with you and learn to nurse lying down if you are having trouble getting enough sleep. If you feel sad or frustrated, take heart and know you are not alone. Seek support among other new and experienced moms, or with a local La Leche League group (www.llli.org has info on local groups). xoxo

Minnie - posted on 10/15/2010

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The minimum, per the AAP, is 8-12 times in 24 hours. However, they also note in their policy statement that many babies will want to nurse 10-16 times or more.



Nursing on-cue is the best way to ensure adequate milk production and that your baby's physical and emotional needs are met. Milk storage capacity varies between women- some babies need to nurse more than once per hour.

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Kellee - posted on 10/27/2010

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I am going to join in what most of the women on this blog have to say...on demand...instinctually as you see fit for when the baby is hungry. We cannot catagorize our children into a box or book 'experts' recommendation. YOU ARE YOUR CHILD's EXPERT! Offer the breast to your baby all the time even if you are not exactly sure what they really want it cannot damage them in any way. Only security, reassurance and love will help your newborn begin to sleep consistently and trust in any new 'patterns'. My son nursed for two years and YES there were times where I wished I could hand my boobs to someone else or even just not 'have' to nurse but 99% of the time I was blissfully in love with nursing and am SOOO glad I did. My newest baby to be born in 11' I will approach the same but keep a watchful sense to what they need and how they require that sense of love and security. Enjoy!

Terri - posted on 10/27/2010

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I feed on Demand . Though its a pain at first the baby did regulate it . soon it was 3 then 4 . I would not wake the baby up to feed though ,unless the baby was having problems and needed that. I had one that slept like 5 to 6 hours and the Dr. told me that unlless I wanted to be on 3 hour feeding schedule then let her sleep . Dont start a habit i didnt want.

Sarah - posted on 10/27/2010

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Do whatever works best for you and your baby. I personally found that feeding on demand worked really well as it forced me to park up on the couch and take a break! Also with on-demand breastfeeding you can expect to feel like you are doing nothing but feeding the baby!

Melissa - posted on 10/27/2010

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I found that turning them upside down slightly works. Laying across legs and making one leg lower for a little while and then sitting upright. My youngest never seemed to have much trouble after that.

Melissa - posted on 10/27/2010

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I used to feed my children by demand feeding because I figure they know when they are hungry. A nurse told me that if I fed my last child every three hours during the daytime they would sleep better at night and it did work for a while. Then they have another growth spurt and need to increase the amount of milk they are getting so they tend to feed more often and then once they have the amount they need they tend to start sleeping again. I've had 8 children and it pretty much seems to have been the same for all of them. The only new thing that I have discovered with my last one is that sometimes all she needs is a burp so instead of feeding her straight away if it seems early I have patted her and nursed her to see if she will burp before offering her a feed sometimes that's it sometimes its a feed

Leona - posted on 10/27/2010

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at that age, hourly is great. u should feed even if he doesn't demand, some babies tend to sleep longer in the day and that doesn't mean u should just relax and never feed, coz feeding often will also help you to produce more for later in his life.

Bobby - posted on 10/26/2010

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Hiya, my sons just turned 3 weeks. Its easy for people to try to instruct you when/how to feed your newborn. Ive found its easier to take the c
ues from your baby. my son sounds the same your yours! I just BF on demand! its tiring yeah, but it will settle ;)

Lisa - posted on 10/26/2010

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I agree that if he seems hungry, you should feed him, but make sure you burp him after you nurse him. Also, I assume you're counting from start to start. When they say every 2 hours, it's really less since they mean from start to start, especially if it takes a long time to nurse. I remember that my son was always asleep, so it took me a long time to keep him awake and get the latch correct.

Dawn - posted on 10/26/2010

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Congrats on deciding to to BF! You are doing a great thing for you and your baby! Like many others have said, feed your baby when he is hungry. There are organizations like La Leche League that can can help with any other questions/concerns you may have. They are great and often a lot better informed on breastfeeding then the average doctor or nurse. It is their job after all, so they are kind of like specialists. Good luck!!

Monique - posted on 10/26/2010

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Melanie, to get the "ouchies" out try baby turned over onto tummy on your arm with head facing your elbow and feet facing your hand and rubbing slightly firmly or patting on the baby's back, if they bring up some milk this manouevre assists nicely!

Monique - posted on 10/26/2010

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In Australia, where I live with my now 6 week old daughter, I was advised in Hospital by most of the midwives to feed babies 6-8 times per 24 hours and wake the baby at night to ensure routine. Routine is what babies like, however the baby will tell YOU what it likes as a routine as part of its natural evolving. Outside of the hospital, nurses and midwives were strongly suggesting to NEVER WAKE A BABY AT NIGHT; they sleep to SIMPLY SLEEP AT NIGHT.

Christina - posted on 10/26/2010

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I am also a nursery/postpartum nurse & we always tell our patients q2-4 hours. Does he have 5-6 wet or poopy diapers/day? How often is he eating? Does he take a pacifier?

Katherine - posted on 10/26/2010

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Feed him on demand it's really great he's already seems to have night and day sorted out my son ate all night and slept all day for a long time :-) As long as bub is happy and gaining weight I would never interrupt a sleep to feed them ( I only had to wake mine when they had mild jaundice as tiny bubs) let bub decide when he's hungry and not hungry and you will get along very well ;-) Good luck and congratulations

Ashley - posted on 10/26/2010

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i've been told on demand as well.my daughter is still on demand unless i'm at work then she gets bottle breastmilk

Christine - posted on 10/26/2010

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I personally feel that a baby should be fed as often as he wants. Him wanting to eat so often may mean he is hitting a growth spurt and needing more milk so he i trying to build up your supply. I just fed my daughter whenever she wanted to eat!

[deleted account]

Definitely feed on demand. Their little tummies are tiny and breastmilk is digested easily so they need to be fed frequently. They may need to feed very often and for a long time as they're not that efficient at milking the breast, at that young age. Feeds may take 30 mins or more. When they get older, they'll be down to 5 mins each side etc
All the best with it!

Laressa - posted on 10/26/2010

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My nurse told me that babies have very tiny tummies and breastmilk is so very easily digested that tummy can be empty in about 45 min. I fed on demand. If she was hungry it was snack time. If she was happy to sleep 3hrs or so, fine. Its too stressfull to always watch the clock. Babies don't know the time, they just know when they need a snack or a big meal and that may be different every day depending on if he's going thru a growth spurt.

Anastasia - posted on 10/26/2010

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Feed him when hes hungry....I spent so much of those first few weeks sitting on a chair feeding. and for long amounts of time every half hour or so sometimes. but he would sleep for 4 hours occasionally at night

Melissa - posted on 10/26/2010

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Breastfed babies need to be fed on demand. If the little guy is falling asleep, wake him up to make him eat. The lactation consultant in the hospital made me strip my daughter down to her diaper. The thought is she'll be warm enough from our skin to skin contact, but she'll stay awake. I successfully nursed her until she was 11 months and now have a son who is 5.5 months old and only eats from mom :)

Have you tried a soother too? If baby isn't eating, he may just be trying to satisfy a sucking reflex. Using mom as a soother isn't acceptable either. So, I'd use the advice given to wake your little guy up and have him eat well during feedings. Be confident :) You'll learn his cues and know when he's actually hungry and when he is looking just to suckle.

[deleted account]

I'm all for free breast feeding, it worked well for us. I let my son eat whenever he wanted. My nurse also told me that he shouldn't have to eat more than every 3 hours, but all children are different. You know your baby better that ANYONE, and if he wants boobie, you serve him boobie! :D

Merry - posted on 10/26/2010

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2.5-3hours is the maximum time between feeds, not the minimum. Minimum would be like 4-5 times an hour. Which is what many cultures do when baby is carried in a sling all day. 5 minutes 4 times an hour is as close to natural as you can get!

Michelle - posted on 10/26/2010

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Feed him as often as he wants to be fed.
Your baby knows when he's hungry. =]
His tummy is sooooo small right now that he has to eat often to stay full and happy.

Melanie - posted on 10/26/2010

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Janice, my boy is also 2 weeks now and at night he feeds every 3 hours, but I find that during the day he wants to feed constantly!!! sometimes he only takes a few sips and other times he empties both breasts. I think it would be cruel to feed on a clock at this early stage, cause sometimes they just want to have that little reassurance and comfort by being close to you

Kan - posted on 10/26/2010

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I agree, I feed on demand. Thats the best way to make sure baby is getting what they need. My baby cluster feeds too and its hard but just remember its only temporary until there tummy can hold more and then they can go longer periods of time.

Kathleen - posted on 10/26/2010

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Feeding on demand early on will help your milk supply and make sure he is eating enough. As they get older they will sleep longer and find other things to interest them instead of nursing. The twins started sleeping through the night which was about 10 or 10:30PM to 5:30AM and I didn't wake them to feed. They would get a diaper change and nurse first thing in the morning.

If I woke up in the middle of the night usually to pee (I drank plenty of water) I would have the pump already set up and I would sit and pump for a couple minutes, Building a stash for work or a night out and it would keep my supply up for the twins.



I know people mean well but, I would advised against using formula since anything you give them that is not from the breast signals the breast not to make more milk. It is probably the biggest thing that keeps people from nusing longer.



If you need to increase your supply I would suggest a "Nursing Holiday" I would have diapers and wipes, clothes and a pitcher of water for me along with a book or magazines and the rmote and just sit and nurse as much as they would, I would keep them on the breast if they weren't nursing as well. I only put them down to change them or pee and get myself something to eat. All the nursing and just stimulation of the breast when they were not nursing would signal the breast to make more milk.



I was worried that I would never be able to go anywhere with them nursing all the time. Believe they will not nurse like this the rest of their lives. I would say in about 6 weeks you will look back and be surprised how different they are.

Good luck and congratulations on the newest addition to your family.

Megan - posted on 10/26/2010

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they say every 2.5 - 3 but then i was told by public health if the baby is sleeping let him sleep ... during the day they eat more .. My girl wanted to feed and feed forever too .. they will eventually get off that habit its called cluster feeding .. they do it especially in the evening .. public health said they do that to build up for the night I guess .. I used to just feed my baby when she was hungry, I didnt go by the books, and she is fine. Just feed him when he's hungry.

Nicole - posted on 10/26/2010

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Feed him whenever he is hungry, period. Hourly guidelines are not only inaccurate, they can be frustrating for both mother and baby. Feeding your baby as often as he wants helps to support your milk supply, helps him to feel happy and secure and helps you to lose baby weight (personally, I thought that was the best part -- along with keeping your period away!). Take my advice: I breastfed each of my four babies around the clock whenever they even looked in my direction! Feeding the baby while lying down on your side with the baby beside you is an excellent way to stay rested and relaxed when you have to feed so often. Not to brag, but my period never came back before the baby's first birthday. All hail breastfeeding! Woo-hoo!

Melissa - posted on 10/26/2010

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The way i did it with both my girls was feed on demand, when they seemed hungry i fed them, sometimes it was every hour to 90 minutes other times it could be 3 to 4 hours apart. If you find it to demanding then alternate or supplement with formula, but my best advise is feed on demand

Cheralee - posted on 10/26/2010

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I feed my baby on demand, listening to her cues. It can be hard and tiring sometimes. My Daughter was a cluster feeder. It is good for bluiding your milk up so later it will be easier to pump and store your milk for times you need some you time. It is good to take a little you time. Just ask your partner or some one else to look after the baby while you take a bath or sleep, read or do something for yourself.

Mary - posted on 10/26/2010

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Feed on demand in the beginning. It's good for baby and good for you to establish your supply. Do you feel the let-down when you're feeding? Remember that initially there is colustrum which satisfies thirst before the hind milk comes in that satisfies hunger :)

[deleted account]

If he is falling asleep after 5 min of nursing, he isn't emptying your milk supply and probably hasn't made it to the "good stuff" yet, which is why he is still hungry when he wakes up after 10 min. Do everything you can to keep him awake and eating. My son would fall asleep all the time while nursing especially when he was a newborn. I had to continuously tickle his cheek, under his chin, undress him, move him around so he would be uncomfortable etc. I remember doing my best to nurse at least 10min on each side to make sure he was getting the good stuff, but it was definitely hard work getting to that point. Good luck!

Cathie - posted on 10/25/2010

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had 4 kids, now they're all grown up and ready to have children of their own soon. listen to these young moms! they know what they're talking about! Feed when they need to be fed. Keep it simple. No clocks! and don't forget to love every minute of it - they will be all grown up before you can even believe it's possible!

Heather - posted on 10/25/2010

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Every time he signals for food--basically, as long as he's awake, you should offer. Scheduling babies is linked to diminishing supply and failure to thrive. Babies and ONLY babies know how often they need to eat and they need to eat OFTEN. I know it's hard, those first few weeks, especially with hourly feedings and such, but it's important. BTDT and I understand.

Breast milk digests very fast and completely, because it is exactly what baby needs. Babies don't always stop eating because they're full--sometimes they're sleepy and need a sleep break, sometimes they have a gas bubble and sometimes the milk just digests so fast that baby needs to eat that often.

2.5-3 hours means that baby shouldn't go much longer than that between feedings, NOT that baby should wait that long.

Skipping nursing sessions tells your body that baby doesn't need that milk (which he does) and interferes with lactational amenorrhea (lack of a period/fertility from breastfeeding, which is a nice benefit). So nurse when baby cues and you'll get the rhythm fast enough :)

Ericka - posted on 10/25/2010

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as often as baby asks/needs to be nursed. dont worry about a time limit. just feed him when you know he wants to be fed. listening to his cues, and your instincts will allow you to grow stronger and stronger instincts, and pretty soon you will be able to "read" your child easier than a lot of parents are able, and thats priceless!

Lindsay - posted on 10/25/2010

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feed him on demand, which means as often as he seems to want to eat! it is how he builds your supply!!!!!!!!

Pamela - posted on 10/25/2010

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as often as he wants! My son ate every 30-345 minutes for the first three months. It was frustrating but he grew quite well and is now a very healthy 2 year old. Those early weeks are essential for building supply.

Jessa - posted on 10/25/2010

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Have you tried switching to single sided feeding? Allow your son to nurse one side for as long as he needs at each feeding then alternate to the other side for the next feeding. When the baby wants to nurse so frequently it is usually a sign of over production of milk so the baby isn't getting the heavier hind milk but only the "skim" type stuff that stays at the front of the breast. This won't hold the baby over as long thus leading to more frequent feedings. The US is the only country that women are taught to nurse off both breasts at each feeding, but this is not always the best option for many women. I am now pregnant with my 5th child and have strictly breast fed all of my children for at least the first year. I have tried it both ways and single sided feeding has always proven to be the better situation. But no matter which way you choose to nurse, the best thing is to allow them to nurse if they show signs of hunger, even if it has only been a short time since their last feeding. This will allow your child to get the most out of nursing both in milk and in comfort. Hope this helps :) God bless!

[deleted account]

Newborns should be fed on demand. If he is hungry every hour, feed him. I nursed my daughter every 45 minutes, at times! The frequency lengthens as they get older, but for now, it is not uncommon to feed that often.

Teri - posted on 10/25/2010

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gosh no -- feed him on demand right now -- as he gets older he will get more regular about when he eats, but now he is growing, his belly is very small and he needs to eat often. Feed him when he cues, or you'll have an unhappy kid on your hands ;-)

Krystal - posted on 10/25/2010

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NO...do not wait to feed him, EVER! Feed on demand, even if it seems like you are nursing all the time. This is completely normal for a breastfeeding baby. My little man basically breastfed for the first 3 months of his life continuously!
Hang in there...it will get better.
My little man is 17 months old and still nursing every 2-4 hours, or whenever he wants it.

Sylvia - posted on 10/24/2010

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You feed a newborn whenever he's hungry. Unless he doesn't ask to be fed at least every 2 hours, in which case you should feed him anyway. At least, that's what they told us at the hospital when DD was born. Of course, that was never really a problem for me, since DD asked to be fed, like, every hour on the hour all day and all night.

So, yeah. You feed him whenever he's hungry.

Tracy - posted on 10/24/2010

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I just wanted to post something else. I am not being critical of Brittany, but Baby Wise has been associated with failure to thrive in infants. If you choose to go that route, please wait until the baby is at least 3 months old.

Diane - posted on 10/23/2010

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Feed him whenever he wants to nurse, most babies who go longer between nursing sessions at night will cluster feed in the morning and sometimes that means an hour apart and sometimes it means every 20 minutes. Your best bet to know that he is getting what he needs is to feed him on demand. You can contact your local La Leche League leader or a lactation consultant for more advice or you can post a question on The Leaky B@@b facebook page to get more advice.

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