Your baby’s feedings will vary in length from feeding to feeding, day to day, week to week, and month to month! In the beginning, you’ll want to breastfeed often enough to ensure that you have a good milk supply. But your baby’s cues—her signs of hunger and fullness—will let you know how often to breastfeed her and for how long.
During the newborn phase, you’ll need to feed your baby at least 8 to 12 times in each 24 hour period. Because your baby’s stomach is tiny, small, frequent feedings will ensure that she gets the nutrients she needs in amounts that are comfortable for her; frequent feedings also help build your milk supply.
Breastfeed as long as your baby wishes on the first breast—this can be anywhere from 10-30 minutes or more! When she stops suckling and swallowing, or when she falls asleep, wake her, burp her, and offer the second breast. You’ll want to offer both breasts at every feeding, but don’t worry if your baby seems content after feeding on a single breast. Begin the next feeding on the breast that you offered last, in order to maintain milk production in both breasts.
During each and every feeding, watch your baby, not the clock.
Feed your baby at the earliest signs of hunger:
- sucking on her fingers or fists
- making sucking motions or sounds
- licking her lips
- sticking out her tongue
Breastfeed your baby until she shows signs of fullness:
- short, rapid sucks with longer pauses
- releasing the breast
- looking relaxed and sleepy
- appearing satisfied
Don’t worry about how long your baby nurses. As long as her position and latch are correct, your baby will get what she needs and you will be comfortable breastfeeding.