How Often Should My Breastfed Baby Eat?
Amie Brunner, RN - April 09, 2017

How often does my baby need to eat?

This is a common question, especially for breastfeeding mothers.  Generally, breastfed infants should eat 10-12 times in a twenty-four hour period. This does not break down to every two hours between feedings. There is no magic timer that can be set to let you know that it is time to feed your baby again; however, you can use feeding cues that the baby is giving you. A feeding cue is a sign that your baby is giving you to let you know that they are hungry and wanting to eat.  Feeding cues include: rooting, awakening, hand-to-mouth, making soft sounds, mouthing (licking lips, sticking out tongue). A late feeding cue is crying out. 

The most important thing is to watch the baby for feeding cues and not the clock. Some babies will nurse for short intervals every hour and others will nurse for a longer time and not nurse again for up to two and a half hours.  Signs that your baby is full include looking relaxed, sleepiness, coming off the breast themselves, and staying asleep after nursing.

Another good indicator of how feedings are going is the baby’s output.  There should be at least one wet diaper the first day, two the second, three the third and so on. Your baby’s bowel movements will also start to transition from dark, sticky meconium to a more yellow, seedy looking type of stool. Keeping track of each feeding, along with output, will be very helpful as well.

If you have questions about breastfeeding, pumping, or milk storage you can always call the Schneck Family Life Center nurse's desk at (812) 522-0435. Schneck also has a breastfeeding support group that meets each Wednesday at 9 a.m. Find the next date by going to the Breastfeeding Support Group page.