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.
- Child and Youth Health Practice Manual, Queensland Government (PDF, 3.6MB)
- Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Guideline: Establishing breastfeeding (PDF 395 kB)
- Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Guideline Supplement: Establishing breastfeeding
(PDF 179 kB)
National guidelines and strategies
- Infant Feeding Guidelines: Summary (PDF, 825kB)
- Infant Feeding Guidelines: Information for health workers
- Australian Dietary Guidelines (Refer to section 4: Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding)
- Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 (PDF, 4MB)