Ask the Lactation Expert: What's a Normal Breastfeeding Routine?

Should I feed my baby for a certain number of minutes per breast?

Don't remove your baby from the breast. Allow him to tell you when he's done with the first breast. You'll know he's had enough when he removes himself or when he stops sucking for longer than a few minutes. There's no specific amount of time he should spend on each breast. If he wants to take the second breast, that's fine. If not, that's okay too. It's important to allow your baby to determine the end of the feeding to allow him access to the higher fat, creamier milk that usually comes near the end of the session. If you remove the baby after a specific amount of time you may hinder his ability to get enough of the creamier milk.

When can I stop waking my baby for feedings?

Once breastfeeding is well established, your baby has been to the pediatrician once or twice and you have been told that she's growing well, you can begin to feed her only when she asks to be fed. You can stop waking her for feedings, if you'd like, as long as she continues to grow well and produce plenty of wet and dirty diapers.

How will I know when my baby wants to breastfeed?

Your baby will "cue" you, or tell you she needs to be fed, by sucking on her hands, making mouthing movements, rooting with her mouth wide open, making little sounds or crying. It's often best to breastfeed when she signals you with the earlier, more subtle feeding cues, rather than waiting for her to cry. Once she's crying, you may find it's harder to get her onto the breast and you may need to calm her first before she can breastfeed.

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