How often should I nurse my baby? Breastfeeding

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newborn baby getting breastfed
iStock/RuslanDashinsky

If you're a new mom nursing a newborn, you might wonder if she's getting enough to eat -- or you might feel like she's attached to you at all times! Here's the scoop on how often you really should be feeding baby.

You Can Never Nurse Too Much

"Look to your baby for signs that she's hungry. Feeding when you see early signs, such as rooting, helps establish a good routine. I would say a typical routine is nursing 10 to 12 times in 24 hours. This can vary based on your baby's age, volume per feeding, and duration of the feeding." -- Skyler Gardner RN, BSN, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA

Feed Often in the Beginning

"Newborn babies have very small stomachs. Initially your baby's stomach is the size of a grape or pecan, and then it gradually gets bigger. Since your baby has such a small stomach and breast milk does not take long to digest, you will need to feed your baby often in the beginning. Your newborn should nurse at least 10 to 12 times per day.  For some babies, that will mean nursing every two to three hours (counting from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next one). For others,...

"Newborn babies have very small stomachs. Initially your baby's stomach is the size of a grape or pecan, and then it gradually gets bigger. Since your baby has such a small stomach and breast milk does not take long to digest, you will need to feed your baby often in the beginning. Your newborn should nurse at least 10 to 12 times per day.  For some babies, that will mean nursing every two to three hours (counting from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next one). For others, it may mean cluster-feeding -- this is when your baby wants to nurse often, such as every hour for a few hours followed by longer stretches between feeding later on. It is important to learn your baby's early signs of hunger and to follow your baby's cues rather than the clock." -- Sahira Long, MD, medical director, Children's Health Center at Anacostia, part of Children's National Health System, Washington, DC

Nurse on Demand

"If my baby looks hungry, I offer. If she looks at me funny, I offer. If she whines, I offer. She gets it offered more than she takes it, and she is a very content baby."

Baby Will Tell You

"Baby will let you know when she's hungry and stop feeding when she's full. When they get to control their intake, they develop a very keen sense of what it feels like to be full and when they need to stop eating."

Only Worry If There's a Reason

"Unless there's a drop in diaper output or your baby has jaundice, you don't need to worry about nursing frequency. My 1-year-old had jaundice and we woke her up every two hours to nurse day and night."

Lay Out the Day's Diapers

"My son is 11 days old and if I time or count feedings, I get very stressed. I set out six diapers at midnight and as long as he uses all of them I know he is doing great. He usually uses many more though."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.