Many mothers, especially those that just gave birth to their first born, may wonder and always ponder over how often they should breastfeed their wonderful baby. Well, for you reading this very article, the answer to is not far-fetched from you and one key fact you should understand better is that every baby is quite different. How much or how often you breastfeed your baby will depend on your BABY’S NEEDS. With that very understanding, here are a few things you need to know about how often you should breastfeed during the first few days, weeks, and months of life.
DURING FIRST FEW DAYS: This is very important. If you have questions about your baby’s growth or how much breast milk he or she is getting, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse. Meanwhile, know you that your newborn baby’s belly is tiny and he or she does not need a lot of milk with each feeding to be full. Your baby may want to suck as often as every 1 to 3 hours and frequent feeding helps increase your milk supply and gives your baby practice at sucking and swallowing. Also, most babies who are getting breast milk should not be fed infant formula in the first few days. If you are concerned about meeting your baby’s needs, talk to a lactation consultant or your baby’s nurse or doctor right away to find out how to address any breastfeeding problems and determine the best way to meet your baby’s needs. Always remember that some newborns may be sleepy and not interested in feeding and at first, babies need to suck for about every 2 to 4 hours to help them get enough nutrition and to grow.
FIRST WEEKS AND MONTHS: Now the baby is a little bit growing and as he or she does, his or her belly also grows. Your baby will gradually be able to suck more breast milk at each feeding. Over the first few weeks and months, the time between feedings will start to get longer, usually on the average of 2 to 4 hours for most exclusively breastfed babies. Some babies may feed as often as every hour at times, often known as cluster feeding, or may have a longer sleep interval of 4 to 5 hours. How often your baby feeds might change depending on the time of day. Some feeding sessions may be long and others short. That is okay. Babies will generally take what they need at each feeding and stop sucking when they are full. They usually seem content and drowsy after feeding when they have had enough milk. Also, there is likelihood that your baby will breastfeed about 8 to 12 times in a day.
FROM 6 TO 12 MONTHS: Breastfed babies’ feeding patterns vary and will likely change as they grow and start eating more solid foods. Continue to follow your baby’s cues and breastfeed when you notice signs of hunger, sometimes known as “breastfeeding on demand”. If your baby seems to be less interested in breastfeeding after you introduce solids, try breastfeeding first before you offer solids. Always have in mind that your breast milk is the most important source of nutrition, even after you start feeding your baby with solid foods.
FROM 12 TO 24 MONTHS: The number of times a day a toddler breastfeeds varies. Some want to breastfeed only before bed or in the morning, while others continue to drink breast milk as a bigger portion of their daily diet. Continue to follow your child’s cues to decide when he or she is hungry and wants to breastfeed.
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