Baby's First Year · Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding: Signs that your baby is swallowing breast milk effectively

Newborn breastfeeding

As a nurse, many parents express concerns like “My baby seems to be sucking at the breast but I am not sure if he is actually drinking my breast milk”. Often clients show up at the breastfeeding clinic asking for advice about what a good breastfeeding looks like.

A good breastfeeding can look very different for babies of different ages.

Having the baby skin to skin at the chest immediately after birth will help with latching and breast milk production.  The first few days after birth, your baby will want to breastfeed very often because their stomach is small and empties very quickly.

Initially, your breasts produce a thick, yellow and very nutritious breastmilk called colostrum.  The frequent emptying of the breasts through breastfeeding will help your mature breast milk come in. It is important to breastfeed whenever your baby shows signs of hunger.

When your breastmilk comes in between day 2 and day 5 after birth, your baby will be able to drink more at each breastfeeding.  While your baby is breastfeeding, you can look at their jaw to see whether they are swallowing.

Signs your baby is sucking and swallowing breast milk effectively:

  • You will see some quick sucks followed by slower and deeper sucks when the baby actually swallows.
  • You should see their jaw coming down slightly just as yours does when you swallow.
  • You may be able to hear quiet “.ka” sounds when swallowing happens.

As your baby grows, they will become more efficient at breastfeeding.

Learn more on how to tell if you are breastfeeding well.

It is important to get help right away if your baby is not showing signs of breastfeeding well. You can also connect with a nurse via our eChat or call (416) 338-7600.

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