Watch your baby, not the clock |

  • How long should I breastfeed?
  • Should I always feed on both sides?
  • When should I pump?
  • How long should I pump?
  • When do I know it’s enough?
  • Should I wake my baby to feed?
  • When can I start a schedule?
  • When do I start solids?

These are questions I am asked fairly regularly and the truth is nobody can or should give you an exact time, for every baby, mom, and boob is different!

Yes, you read that right. The simple truth is that some babies remove an adequate amount of milk in five minutes while others can take up to an hour to finish their meal. Hence anything between five minutes to an hour could be right for you, but as long as you have no contact with a lactation counselor who could watch you feed, weigh your baby before and after feeding, and advise you what to do, there is no right answer.

Let me put it this way: there’s no blog that can answer your questions specifically; only a lactation counselor can.

Makes sense?

For example, in my experience there are babies who can remove 1 to 2 oz. (30-60 ml) in 5 minutes then pop off the breast and go right to sleep not needing another feed until a few hours later. Then there are other babies who need a full hour to finish one breast with the same amount because he or she is just not as efficient and then nurses again an hour later on the other side.

Also remember that sometimes the baby might just be thirsty and not hungry at all, so don’t be alarmed or concerned if some feedings are faster or slower than others.

Rule of thumb: most small babies need to feed anywhere between 8 and 12 times a day; however that does not mean you need to watch the clock or make a schedule. That means you need to watch the baby and look for feeding cues (I’ll talk about those in a minute). Because until your baby is a bit older (somewhere around 40 days old) there really is no feeding schedule.

What are feeding cues?

Anytime your baby shows any sign of:

  • increased activity
  • rooting
  • mouthing

assume that it is time to feed the baby!

This will help you establish good milk supply and healthy feeding habits for your baby.

Pro Tip

If your baby seems upset or fussy, always try feeding him or her first. Only if that does not work try something else. You cannot overfeed your child as your boobs make the most perfect liquid there is for your very own baby.

Once your baby grows older, his or her stomach will grow as well and that means that feeding times will become more regular. There’s nothing you have to do to teach your baby a schedule. Babies do not know what time is nor do they care.

Babies also don’t understand night and daytime. It is fairly common that a newborn will sleep during the day and nurse half the night. It is safe to say that the first 10 days in a newborn’s life are the most tiring in any momma’s life. I suggest you keep stimulation to a minimum — lights off, no sound, no diaper changes unless the baby pooped — and before you know it, your night owl will have adjusted to the “right” time.

How do you know that your baby gets enough milk?

Simply, at first pay attention to diaper changes meaning stool color (from black to green on about Day 3 and green to yellow on about Day 4), and if you have a decent scale at home you can weigh your baby before and after feeding. After Day 4 you can expect your baby to gain about 1 oz or 30 grams per day.

Please watch your baby and not the clock. You will be less stressed and more relaxed and that helps you and the baby more than driving yourself crazy with a schedule.

If you have anymore questions, please find a IBCLC/CLC near you, feel free to leave a comment or email me. La Leche League is a great place to get some peer-to-peer counseling as well.

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