How Often Should I Breastfeed My Baby?

shutterstock_114431893 kissing baby resizedWhen breastfeeding your baby, is it normal for him to want to nurse every hour or even every 30 minutes? The short answer is yes – it is absolutely normal.

Frequent feedings do not mean you aren’t making enough breast milk or that your baby isn’t getting enough to eat. Breast milk digests more easily than formula, so your baby will need a “refill” more often. Your goal is to breastfeed your baby eight to 12 times each day. You can’t breastfeed your baby too often, but you can breastfeed too infrequently.

The best way for you to be certain your baby is getting enough breast milk is by counting the baby’s wet and dirty diapers. The baby should have one of each for every day he is old until around day five. After that it is common for a baby to have four or more stools that are yellow, loose and seedy in texture every day and six to eight or more wet diapers. Some babies will even have a dirty diaper after every feeding.

Another way to tell if your baby is feeding enough is by listening to your baby swallowing. A baby should be swallowing breast milk every one to two sucks once milk is flowing.

If your baby is content between feedings, you are changing plenty of wet and dirty diapers and your baby is gaining weight, then you are breastfeeding your baby enough. If you are worried, call your physician or lactation consultant for a weight check or breastfeeding assessment.

Your baby will nurse less often as he grows because he will be able to eat more at a feeding, so don’t get discouraged; these early days don’t last forever. There will be plenty of days when you will be able to do more than just nurse a baby and try to sleep.

About Author: Paula Hart, RN, BS, IBCLC, CCE

Paula Hart, OSF Saint Anthony - Center for Life

Paula Hart is a former certified perinatal educator at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, Illinois. She is a registered nurse who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Arts from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois.

Paula held a national certification as a breastfeeding counselor for eight years before becoming an internationally board certified lactation counselor in 2010. She has been a maternal/child nurse in both the hospital and public health settings for most of her career and previously served as a prenatal classes educator at OSF Saint Anthony.

She really enjoys baking and cooking, as well as reading almost anything she can find.

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Categories: Birth & Maternity