Breastfeeding Routine


Need a Breastfeeding Routine?


Are you confused about how often you need to feed your baby, whether or not you should wake your baby for feedings, or put him/her on a feeding schedule?

It is important that as mothers, we stop looking at the clock, and start concentrating more on our babies. A strict schedule is not needed. Think of the way you eat during the day, would you like it if someone took your snacks away?


How often Should your Baby be Breastfed?

What is the average feeding frequency? On average newborns will drink between 8 – 12 times per 24 hours, but it is also totally normal for a newborn to breastfeed every hour or once every 3 hours. It is also normal for a baby to drink more during certain times and less during others. Very few babies will adopt a specific pattern (for example eating exactly every three hours).

A baby should not be breastfed less than eight times per 24 hours. The more you breastfeed, the better, especially in the beginning as this is when a good milk supply is established.

Time Baby Spends at One Nursing Session

Some babies take 5 or 10 minutes to finish while others may take 45 minutes or longer. As a baby gets older, he/she may start breastfeeding for shorter periods of time and may start feeding at regular intervals.


Feeding a Newborn on Demand has its Advantages

  • It provides a newborn baby practice at the breast, to perfect the art of breastfeeding.
  • The risk of jaundice in a baby that breastfeeds often, is less. 
  • Feeding often will help a mother's uterus return to its normal size quicker and reduces the chances of hemorrhage.
  • It prevents engorgement, which is common in the first few days.
  • It establishes a good milk supply.


Should I Wake my Baby to Breastfeed?

A mother should not restrict the time her baby spends on a breast. It is best to allow a baby to breastfeed until he/she has decided that they have had enough, and then change sides if necessary. Doing this will ensure that the baby receives the fattier hindmilk, which is the milk produced later on in a feed. 

  • During the day your baby should be breastfed at least every 3 hours and he/she can be woken if they sleep past this time.
  • You do not need to wake your baby at night if he/she have breastfed at least 8 times during the day. But keep in mind, that your milk supply can drop if you do not breastfeed at least once at night.

What if your baby wants to breastfeed before three hours have passed?

After a while, you will learn to recognize the signs of hunger that your baby shows. This usually includes things like routing for your breast or sucking of fingers.

It is best to breastfeed when you see these signs instead of waiting for your  baby to cry, as this could become frustrating and cause difficulty in latching.

You do not need to wait specific times before breastfeeding. In the beginning it is best to breastfeed as much as possible, even if you think your breasts are empty. They are actually not, as breast milk is produced continuously. The more stimulation your breasts get, the better, as this is what signals your body to produce more milk.


Cluster Feeding

This is when a baby feeds every half an hour for a few hours at a time. They usually sleep for long periods afterwards. Cluster feeding mostly occurs in the evening hours. Cluster feeding can also occur in children that are a few months of age, not just newborns.

Read more about cluster feeding here.


Growth Spurts

This is a period of increased growth in a baby. During this time a baby will usually drink more often than usual. This is so that the mother can build a larger volume of milk for her baby's increased needs during this time.

Read more about growth spurts here.


Can I overfeed my breastfed baby? Read more on this here


How do I know that my baby is drinking enough milk?


How to Establish a Breastfeeding Routine 

  • The first few weeks after the baby's birth, a mother should concentrate on getting to know her baby and establishing a good milk supply.
  • She should try to introduce a feed; wake/sleep pattern. A baby will usually catch on to whatever feeding pattern you introduce.
  • A mother can start her baby’s day at a specific time every morning. This is especially helpful to those mothers who need to breastfeed before going to work. A baby should adapt to a breastfeeding routine within about two weeks.
  • Going to bed at the same time every night will also encourage a set breastfeeding routine. Doing this provides a mother with some predictability.
  • Usually, if you keep certain activities for specific times, such as watching television or having a bath, a baby will start to recognize these things and associate them with a feeding time.

Should I put my breastfed baby on a feeding schedule?

It is best not to, as research has shown that a baby breastfed on demand, thrives much better than one put on a tight breastfeeding schedule. Frequent breastfeeding will also help a mother increase her milk supply. It is best to wait it out and find a breastfeeding routine that works for both you and your baby.


Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with a breastfeeding routine

- Breastfeeding in public

- Breastfeeding at night

- Breastfeeding on demand

- Working and breastfeeding

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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr. Currently studying through Child birth International (CBC, CBD). Also an accomplished author and Mommy of two.