How Often Do Breastfed Infants Eat?

Families feeding their babies human milk may be surprised to learn just how often their babies want to eat! How often an infant eats when breastfeeding/body feeding is not the same as how much time you will spend feeding your baby. Let’s look at the details. 

Average Daily Infant Breastfeeding / Body Feeding Schedule (First Month)

In the first month of life, if you’re feeding your baby human milk, they will eat about 8-12 times in a 24-hour period. This means you’ll be feeding your baby every 2-3 hours for the first month, on average. Yes, that’s a whole lot of time! But when you consider how small an infant’s stomach is and how quickly human milk is digested, it makes perfect sense.

How to Measure Between Feeding Sessions

You count the number of time between feedings from the time that you start feeding to the next time that you start feeding. So, if you begin a feeding at 8am and the next one begins at 10am, it’s been two hours. Even if your first feeding lasted an hour (yes, it’s possible, especially in the early days of learning!), the time is counted from when you start the feedings. 

Length of Feeding Sessions

Depending on how long you spending feeding your baby at each session, it can feel like you spend all of your day feeding! If your sessions last longer, the turnaround time will be much shorter and yes, it will feel like you’re feeding all day. The length of feeding sessions vary for newborns in the first month, depending on baby’s temperament, their ability to feed succinctly, and any issues that are taking place whether developmental or with breastfeeding / body feeding. In the first month, it may take 15-20 minutes or longer to feed on each side (30-40 minutes per session). As the feeding relationship and skills grow, the amount of time it takes should decrease significantly, to around 10-20 per session.

Getting Support

Support for these kinds of questions about feeding your baby is critical to the physical and mental health and well being for you and your baby in the first year. Enlist support from friends and family members who have experience with breastfeeding / body feeding, but also professional support from lactation consultants. An IBCLC can help answer questions and address problems at the start — before they become bigger problems. 

 

 

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