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Unrestricted feeding

Breastfeeding is initiated in response to feeding signs and cues from the baby. When a baby is fed according to need there are no restrictions on:

  • Frequency of feeding
  • Duration of feeds
  • Night feeds.

All mother and baby dyads are individual and there is a lot of variation between feeds, the length of feeds and sleeping patterns. Babies can feed 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period, but there may be periods when a baby feeds more or less often than this. Identifying and responding to the baby’s feeding cues both day and night is an important factor in successfully establishing breastfeeding and results in optimum milk production.

To identify if the baby is getting enough milk, explore:

  • The number of wet nappies in a 24 hour period – 6-8 cloth and 5 disposable wet nappies is typical once the mother’s milk comes in
  • The consistency of bowel motions – loose and mustard-yellow is typical by the third or fourth day.
  • Weight gain – the pattern of plots on the WHO growth charts
  • Baby’s behaviour – the baby is content following breastfeeding.

Many people mistakenly think that all babies sleep for 3-4 hours in regular patterns around the clock. Frequent breastfeeding is normal and infants’ individuality and variations in their appetites need to be carefully explored with new parents.

More information

Queensland guidelines

National guidelines and strategies

Last updated: 12 July 2016

Resources for parents, families and carers

Professional development