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8 or 12 times a day? How often to feed your baby

11 June 2017

Our breastfeeding guides help you prepare for your breastfeeding journey as well as providing helpful tips for getting started or managing any issues.

Babies are born with the ability to know when they are hungry and when they are full.

They can give you signs for when this occurs so it is important to follow baby’s cues.

Feeding a well, healthy term baby when they are not hungry can confuse their ability to recognise hunger and fullness and present issues later in life.

How often is ‘normal’?

It is normal for young babies to feed frequently, every one and a half to three hours, including at night.

Sometimes babies may go through a stage where they want to be fed more often than this but will sleep for a longer period. This is called “cluster feeding.”

Isn’t that too much?

Breastfeed 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. It might seem like a lot, but breast milk is easily digested.

Usually a baby will wake in time for a feed; however, some sleepy babies may not. This is often nothing to worry about but could be an indicator that your baby is unwell.

You know your baby best. If this seems unusual, contact your family doctor.

Should I time the feeds?

It is better to allow your baby to feed until they are full rather than timing the feeds. Allow your baby to finish the first breast then once nutritive sucking has stopped offer the second side.

How can I check that my baby is getting enough breastmilk?

Generally, a baby who is getting enough breastmilk will produce five very wet disposable or six very wet cloth nappies (full of very light-coloured wee) and two to three soiled nappies in 24 hours.

Dark-coloured wee may suggest that your baby is dehydrated. Contact your family doctor for advice.

From birth to 6 months of age, your breast milk is all a baby needs. There is no need to offer extra bottles, even of water.

St John of God Health Care
Heather Marin - Midwife

Heather Marin is a registered midwife and a lactation consultant at St John of God Subiaco Hospital. She has worked as a midwife for 34 years and has a particular interest in protecting, supporting and promoting breastfeeding.