How Often to Breastfeed?
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to nourish your baby and build your bond with them. Not only is breastfeeding healthy for your baby, but it can also offer some unique health benefits to nursing mothers. Whether you are just beginning to breastfeed for the first time or want to continue breastfeeding your baby for a long-term, it is important to know how often you should be nursing your baby.
Frequency and Duration
Healthy term newborns typically should be fed on-demand or 8-12 times every 24 hours. This means that you should feed your baby any time they show hunger signs. Common hunger signs include rooting, sucking on their hands, and increased activity. Your baby may not have an absolute set schedule but it’s important not to delay when they are eagerly seeking nourishment.
As your baby grows, the duration of breastfeeding sessions tends to decrease. At 1-3 months old, you should offer both breasts at each feeding session and let your baby feed as long as they like from one or both breasts. As your baby gets older, they will become more efficient at nursing and take less time to feed.
Babies have different feeding cues than adults and it is essential to learn to recognize when they are hungry. These feeding cues can vary from baby to baby but typically include:
- Rooting: The baby will turn their head and open their mouth when their cheek is stroked or touched.
- Sucking: The baby will begin to suck on hands or a pacifier.
- Fussiness: The baby will become increasingly irritable or start to cry.
You should always respond to your baby’s feeding cues as soon as possible to avoid over-demand feeding. Over-demand feeding can lead to overfeeding and can make breastfeeding uncomfortable and pain-staking for breastfeeding mothers.
When to Suppleement
If you have sufficient milk supply and your baby is growing well, then supplementation isn’t necessary. However, if you find that your baby is consistently coming off the breast early, you may need to supplement with formula or expressed breast milk. If you choose to supplement, depending on the specific situation, you may need to keep a feeding and/or wet diaper chart so that you can monitor your baby’s weight gain and changes in patterns.
It is important to feed your baby on-demand in order to ensure they are getting enough nutrition. To ensure your baby is adequately nursed, watch for early feeding cues and learn how to respond to them. Lastly, if your baby displays signs of not getting enough nourishment, you should consider supplementing with formula or expressed breast milk.