Newborns should be breastfed at least every four hours but likely more often.

How Often Should a Newborn Be Breastfed?

by Candice Coleman

Now that your new bundle of joy has arrived, several concerns may come to mind. Feeding can prove especially difficult for a mother attempting to build a routine for her newborn. The frequency of feedings may vary depending on your newborn's age and appetite. A pediatrician can also give guidance and reassurance to new mothers learning the ropes of breastfeeding.

1. First Weeks

During the first few days of a baby's life, she may not have much of an appetite. However, that quickly changes and breastfed babies generally go through eight to 12 nursing sessions a day, according to KidsHealth.org. Mothers may find they are feeding their babies every one and a half to three hours during this time. Feeding schedules can vary, so stay alert for signs that your newborn may be hungry. Smacking her lips, placing her hands to her mouth and moving her head from side to side are often early indicators of hunger, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

2. First Month

Around one month after delivery, your newborn baby should be approaching a more reliable breastfeeding schedule. Moms may also find that they have slightly more free time, as nursing sessions drop to about seven to nine times per day, with feedings spaced approximately two to three hours apart, according to KidsHealth.org. Newborns may stick their tongues out or nuzzle against Mom's breasts in the early stages of hunger.

3. Feeding Concerns

Though your little one may be sleeping peacefully, you shouldn't go more than four hours at a time without breastfeeding, according to HealthyChildren.org. Mothers may also be concerned about their milk supply when newborns seem to be eager to eat more frequently than usual. Sudden changes in breastfeeding can come about in part because your baby may hit a growth spurt during the first month. Breastfeeding on demand, before your newborn cries, can prevent your baby from growing inconsolable.

4. Additional Information

Several factors influence how often a newborn should be fed, as well as how often a mother is able to breastfeed her child. Your doctor can refer you to a lactation consultant if you are struggling with your breastfeeding technique or milk supply. Moms strapped for time may also struggle with 15- to 30-minute breastfeeding sessions. Pumping breast milk can give you the freedom to allow others to feed your baby.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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