frequent feeding

You might be surprised by how frequently your baby needs feeding in the early days. Here we look at how to cope with frequent breastfeeding and dealing with an unsettled baby.

If your baby seems unhappy, unable to sleep, or difficult to feed, do ask for help. Many mums worry a great deal when their babies seem to need to breastfeed a lot, or for prolonged periods of time.

"Newborns typically need very regular feeding which can make it seem like your baby is uncomfortable."

Your baby knows your voice, your smell and your taste very well indeed – but he’s much less familiar with the ‘world’ on the outside. Staying close to you gives him a vital sense of safety and reassurance, and builds his confidence that he’s loved and cared for.

All this can mean newborn feeding is frequent – in fact, much of the time, it’s not really a question of clearly-defined ‘feeds’ which begin and end at a clear point.

Some feeds will appear to last a long time, with your baby dozing for short periods before wanting more. And more. And still more! It’s perfectly normal for a young baby to be on the breast many times a day and night – 12-15 ‘visits’ to the breast is well within a normal range.

What can you do to deal with frequent feeding?

Accept all this as normal and try to go with the flow.

  • Offer both breasts every time you feed, and don’t be concerned if your baby sometimes doesn’t want the ‘second’ side just now.
  • Responding to your baby’s cues keeps him well-fed and well-hydrated, but also ensures a good milk supply for you. Milk production is driven by frequent removal of milk, and this encourages production for the future.
  • Scheduled, timed feeds can reduce your body’s ability to make sufficient milk, and they can distress your baby too. As time goes on, feeding can become more predictable and flexible – but in these early days meeting your baby’s needs is essential. You will need support and the chance to relax and rest, to reduce the tiredness.

For more information about problems you might encounter in the early days, see Breastfeeding problems and concerns in the early days.

Further information

We support all parents, however they feed their baby. If you have questions, concerns or need support, you can speak to a breastfeeding counsellor by calling our support line on 0300 330 0700, whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or using formula milk. Breastfeeding counsellors have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising and will offer relevant information and suggestions. Find more useful articles on feeding.

National Breastfeeding Line (government funded): 0300 100 0212.

NHS information on mastitis.

Breastfeeding Network information sheet on mastitis and self-help measures.

Best Beginnings - Bump to Breastfeeding DVD Chapter 7 'Overcoming Challenges'. Managing Breastfeeding – dealing with difficult times.

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