Are you wondering how often to feed your baby? Or how much they are getting when they feed? This guide will help you understand what to expect and when to seek professional help. Knowing what is normal can ease your anxieties and help you identify when something isn’t quite right

How Often Does a Baby Feed and For How Long?

Feeding frequency and duration can vary from baby to baby. However, newborns should be feeding a minimum of 8 times in 24 hours, with a typical range of 8-12 feedings in 24 hours. Your baby should be eating every 2-3 hours around the clock with no more than one 4-hour stretch at night until we have confirmed positive weight gain and efficient feeding.

 

Your newborn may eat for 15-40 minutes per feeding and may eat from one or both breasts. Always offer both breasts and let baby decide when they are done. First breast is dinner, and the second is dessert! Until we are sure your baby is eating well and gaining weight, do not let them sleep long stretches, especially during the day. This will help prevent getting their days and nights mixed up if they are frequently awakened to feed during the day.

 

Starting on day 1, infant’s need only about a teaspoon of colostrum per feeding. This amount will gradually increase to about 1 oz per feeding by day 5, and about 3 oz per feeding by one month old.

 

Infants need about 1 oz of breastmilk every hour (may space feeds every 2-3 hours in which case they will take 2-3 oz per feeding) or about 24 ounces of breastmilk per day after the first month all they way until the first year of life. At 6 months old, solids are recommended to be added to their diet as well.

 

So, what does infant feeding actually look like? Amounts and frequency vary through a 24-hour period for an average of 8-12 feedings. You may also notice your baby having short closely spaced feeds for a period of a few hours. This is known as cluster feeding and is perfectly normal.

 

What is Expected Output?

Infant’s need 1 wet and 1 dirty diaper per day of life until day 5. Then after that, they need at least 6-8 solid wet diapers every 24 hours along with 2-4 yellow seedy dirty diapers. The more that goes in, the more that comes out, so if they have great output, we can be assured they are taking enough in!

 

When Should I Worry?

If your baby is not meeting the number of feedings, weight gain, or wet diapers, you need help. If you are dealing with sore or painful nipples you need help. If your baby is difficult to wake or keep awake for feedings, you need professional breastfeeding assessment and support. If you are not sure what is normal versus concerning, you need help. It’s never a bad idea to ask for help to either get reassurance this is normal or help if it is not.

 

Pain and Damage Are Not Normal

Be patient! You and your baby have to learn to breastfeed!

In the early days, breastfeeding can feel like a lot of work, but you and your baby are learning to do this together. Monitor your baby’s weight gain, diapers, and feedings, and in a few weeks, things should be a lot easier.

If breastfeeding hurts, you need professional support ASAP to assess what is happening to prevent further damage, make sure your baby has the skills to eat properly, and protect your milk supply. Pain isn’t part of the package. You don’t have to endure discomfort, and it’s important to address any issues early on to ensure a positive breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby. For professional support and advice, visit

Rachel’s Lactation Consulting

Rachel Baggett, RN, BSN, IBCLC, is a professional lactation consultant who is dedicated to gently helping mothers and babies thrive in their breastfeeding journey.