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Babies are generally hungry from the moment they are born and are more than happy to start feeding just half an hour after taking their first breath. For new mothers, one of the things to know about breastfeeding is how long each session should take and how much time can elapse between feedings.
Video: Breastfeeding Frequency by Age – Know How Often to Breastfeed Your Baby
How Long Should a Breastfeeding Session Last?
Your newborn child is going to feed for anywhere between twenty and forty-five minutes. It all depends from baby to baby. Your baby will be quite sleepy at this age, and so this may take quite some time. The aim is to feed your baby from both sides, so start with one side and then move to the next after burping your little one. Some babies will be more than happy with only one side so make sure that you start with different sides every time you start a nursing session.
How Often Should You Breastfeed Your Baby?
Newborn babies should be fed most of the day and night so as a mother, you need to be aware of the cues that your baby that signal that she is hungry. Your baby will be more alert and interested in mouthing things and may even suckle on whatever she can when she needs to be fed.
1. Frequency in the First Week
If your baby sleeps a lot, it is recommended that you gently rouse your baby every three hours to nurse. While it may seem excessive, your baby needs to put on weight and get the proper amount of nutrition to grow strong and healthy, meaning she will need to nurse at least twelve times during the day.
2. Frequency From the Second Week to 2 Months
Much like the feeding frequency in the first week, your baby will need to be fed twelve times a day whenever she is hungry. At this age, you will not get much rest as you will need to feed on demand. Since each child is different, the amount of time she stays at the breast and the number of times she wakes up for her feeding will be different from other babies. But generally, babies of this age must be fed every two to three hours.
3. Frequency Between 2 Months and 6 Months
As your baby grows, the frequency may become less, though you will still need to breastfeed at least six times a day. Breastfeeding frequency at 3 months may not be as much as at 2 months, and so the number of times your baby may actively ask to be fed will be less.
4. Frequency Between 6 Months and 12 Months
By the age of six months, your baby should be ready to start being weaned onto solid food. Along with breastfeeding, your baby should be given her first taste of cereal or mashed vegetables. Your baby will still need to be fed on demand at this age, though the frequency should be at six times or less during the day.
How to Know if Your Baby is Getting Enough Breast Milk
As a new mother, it can sometimes be difficult to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk. Here are some ways to help you:
- Your baby will naturally lose weight in his first week of birth, but after that, your baby should gain weight quite steadily. This is one way to tell if your baby is getting enough milk to remain healthy and maintain good growth.
- Your baby’s stool frequency during breastfeeding should be more than once every day, though they can skip a day in between, which is normal. The stool must be dark yellow in colour by her second week. Your baby will urinate a lot more, and you will find that about eight times a day is normal.
- If your baby has enjoyed a good feeding session, she will be happy and playful after nursing. Happy babies are a good indicator that all is well. If your baby tends to fuss even after having been just fed, it is likely that your baby has not had her tummy full and needs to be fed some more.
- Before feeding, your breasts will be quite firm and heavy as they are full of milk, but after your nursing session, your breasts should feel quite light and soft. It is a good sign if your baby has consumed all you had to offer. If you still have milk remaining, she has not had enough to drink.
- The frequency of your sessions can also tell if your baby is getting enough milk. For the initial six months, you will have to make sure that you are feeding your baby on demand, but as time goes by, the frequency will become less. For the first two months, the frequency should be at twelve times in 24 hours, and as your baby grows, the number of times reduce until at six months, your baby needs to feed only six times a day.
Breastfeeding Frequency by Age Chart
To make feeding simpler for you, here is a breastfeeding frequency age chart that you can follow:
|Age||Frequency||Weight Gain||Wet Diaper||Soiled Diaper|
|Week One||Between eight to twelve times a day||Seven per cent weight loss in the first three days
Weight gain of 25 grams per day after
|For the first two days, only two
By the end of the week, it should be six per day
|Minimum one in the first two days
Minimum three for the rest of the week
|Week Two to Two Months||Eight or more||170 grams every week||Six per day||Three per day|
|Two Months to Six Months||Six or more||160 grams every week||Six per day||Three per day|
|Six to Twelve Months||Three to four times||110 grams per week||Five to six per day||One per day|
But, how often an infant will want to feed will depend from baby to baby. It may seem pretty daunting to care for your new baby, and the advice you will get from friends and family can be overwhelming. Though they all mean well, if you are told that you need to feed your baby less, you should pay no heed to it. As long as your baby’s breastfeeding frequency is keeping to these guidelines, you have nothing to worry about. If you still have concerns, visit your doctor or a lactation consultant.