Baby's First Year · Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding: Watch your baby not the clock

Baby being held looking up at parent

During the early days after birth, some babies and mothers need time to learn to breastfeed. Your baby might be sleepy and may need some help to feed. You may need to wake your baby to breastfeed; holding your baby skin-to-skin or changing your baby’s diaper can help to wake your baby.

As you baby grows your baby will let you know when they are hungry. Feed your baby when they are hungry, at least 8 times in 24 hours (day and night). There is no time schedule. Having your baby breastfeed well and often in the first week will help you build a healthy breast milk supply.

Watch for signs your baby is hungry.

The following are signs that your baby is hungry and needs to breastfeed.  Your baby:

  • Makes sucking or soft sounds
  • Puts her hands in her mouth
  • Is making more body movements
  • Makes sucking or licking movements with her mouth

Breastfeed your baby when your baby is calm and before your baby is too hungry and crying. Your baby will breastfeed better if you feed before they are crying. Crying is a late feeding cue. If your baby is crying you may need to calm your baby before feeding. If your baby is too upset to feed try holding your baby skin-to-skin, talking, singing or rocking your baby.

Breastfeeding should be frequent and unrestricted. Offer your second breast when your baby no longer has strong deep and slow sucks and your breasts feel softer. Your baby may only breastfeed a short time on the second breast. At the next breastfeeding offer the breast that feels the fullest.

Remember breastfeeding is a learned skill for mothers and babies. It requires patience and practice. Get help right away if your baby is not showing signs of breastfeeding well.

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