If your baby was just born and you’ve started breastfeeding him, you might have some doubts about this process.

Each baby and mom are different, so there’s not an exact science of how this should be done. However, here you’ll find some useful information to put your mind at ease. One of the most frequent questions among moms is how often they should breastfeed their babies. Some women say their little ones want to eat all the time, while others have babies that sleep a lot and ask just for a little milk.

Before establishing a breastfeeding schedule for your baby, remember that, during the first weeks, you should feed him on demand. This means to breastfeed him whenever he is hungry. That’s why it’s important to recognize your baby’s hunger signals. For example, crying is already a desperate and too late queue. Some previous signals to crying include:

  • Moving the head from side to side
  • Opening the mouth
  • Taking the tongue out
  • Putting hands and feet in mouth
  • Pursing lips, as if the baby was sucking
  • Caressing your breasts
  • Murmuring
  • Showing the rooting reflex. This reflex can be seen when babies move their mouths towards whatever touches their cheeks.

How long does it take to breastfeed?

This answer also depends on each case and we can’t establish an exact number of minutes. A feed might last between 5 and 40 minutes approximately. However, this varies since each baby is different. When your little one has already ingested enough milk, he’ll let you know by doing the following:
• Detaching from your breast.
• He’ll seem sleepy or calm and he’ll look around.

Knowing the signals of when your baby is hungry or satisfied will make the breastfeeding process a lot easier. If you have any other concerns about your little one’s growth or milk ingestion, talk to your pediatrician on the next visit.

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Besides the signals mentioned above, you can also consider the frequency of breastfeeding according to your baby’s age. Usually, newborns feed every hour and a half or three hours. This might seem like a lot, but there’s an explanation for that. Your baby’s stomach is very small, and he can’t eat a lot. Also, breast milk is easy to digest so it’s normal for your little one to be hungry so often. If you have a newborn, it’s important that you don’t let him go without eating for more than 4 hours (nights included). During this stage, it’s expected for a baby to eat 8 to 12 times a day. Once he is one or two months old, the feeds will decrease to 7-9 daily feeds. His stomach will start to grow, which will allow him to eat more and be satisfied for longer.

When you’re breastfeeding your baby, what matters is not the exact amount of milk he is ingesting but if he has enough and is satisfied. Remember that each baby has different needs, so your child may be satisfied with more or less milk than others. These are some signals that will let you know if your little one is eating enough:

  • He seems happy or satisfied after each feed.
  • He wets 4 to 6 diapers per day.
  • He sleeps well.
  • He’s alert while awake.
  • He’s gaining weight.

References:

Breastfeeding FAQs: How much and how often
How often to breastfeed
How often should I breastfeed my baby?