When to Feed Baby

At this early age, babies will not have a "schedule" for feeding. In fact, they may not have that for several months. Once they are a little older and their brain and nervous system mature, babies may be more predictable with their feeding patterns. Until then, every day may be different than the last.

It is recommended to feed "on demand," which means watching for your baby’s feeding cues and offering a feeding whenever she is willing to eat. This may be every two to three hours, but it can be sooner or later than that depending on your baby and the time of day. Generally, we say if your baby hasn’t fed in 2.5 to three hours, make sure to put her skin-to-skin with mom, which can help her come around to feeding sooner.

During the first feed, let your baby stay on the breast as long as he wants. He may want to nurse an hour or more: he is learning to latch and suckle. Later during the first 24 hours, offer baby the breast VERY frequently (every two to three hours). Watch for feeding/hunger cues: rooting, smacking lips, sticking tongue out or chewing fists. CRYING is a late hunger cue.

In the first day, your baby might not wake to feed every two to three hours, but if you offer very frequently, your baby will be able to eat when he’s hungry. Some babies are hard to wake up during the first day – you may need to take off his blanket and clothes to help him stay awake through a feed. This continued skin-to-skin contact helps him stay warm and promotes bonding.

In the second day of life (24-48 hours old), your baby should be waking more regularly and feeding a total of 8 to 12 times. Feeding frequently is normal for an exclusively breastfed baby. Exclusive breastfeeding means your baby only receives your breast milk with no formula, water or other foods given to him. Let your baby lead the feedings: he will let you know when and what he needs.

Breastfeed early and frequently. Frequent feedings encourage an abundant milk supply and minimize engorgement for you, increases weight gain and reduces jaundice and low blood sugar in baby. Remember to remove milk to make more milk! Expressing after a feed and giving colostrum to your baby in a spoon helps him and you! Milk expression is also a good option if baby won’t wake to latch or feed. Your milk production closely matches baby’s needs. The more baby nurses, the more milk you make.