How Often Newborns Feed
In the first few days of life, newborns have some big changes in their feeding patterns.
First 24 hours:
Newborns initially have a very alert stage referred to as the “golden hour”. They are awake and show interest in feeding.
Newborns then go into a deep recovery sleep for the next few hours and may need reminders to feed.
Keeping your newborn skin to skin for the first hour, uninterrupted, will help your baby to get the very first latch to the breast.
Skin to skin will continue to have benefits for your baby, helping them adjust to life in the outside world. Remember: Partners can do skin to skin too!
After 24 hours:
Your formerly sleepy newborn will wake up and want to feed frequently. This frequent feeding can make parents wonder if they are doing something wrong. It can be a very tiring time!
Your breast milk will be thick and golden in color. It is packed full of antibodies and is valuable for your baby’s health.
Frequent feeding during this time is normal and will help to establish your milk supply.
Feeding your baby “responsively” (whenever they are hungry) is recommended.
Once the more mature milk comes in, baby’s feeding pattern changes. Your baby may still have periods of cluster feeding (having feeding times close together), but there will be some longer stretches between feeds as well.
Allow your baby to take the lead rather than watching the clock. You will have a happier baby and a great milk supply.
Bottle Feeding Information
If you are planning on bottle feeding breast milk, learn how to safely store breast milk here.
If you are planning on bottle feeding formula, you will find information here.
It’s a huge adjustment for baby to come from the womb to the outside world.
Research shows that when babies are placed skin to skin:
- The warmth of your body helps baby’s temperature to adjust and stabilize.
- Baby’s heart and breathing rate become more regular.
- Your baby’s stress is reduced, leading to a more stable blood sugar.
- Baby will be colonized by mom’s good bacteria.
- It provides comfort if painful procedures, such as blood tests, are needed.
- Your baby will be more content and cry less.
How to do skin to skin safely:
Researcher Louise Dumas has outlined steps for safe skin to skin contact immediately following birth. The order of the steps is important, she notes.
1. Baby should be placed directly on your bare chest, with no diaper, before drying him off.
2. Stretch baby out so your bodies are in contact as much as possible, with baby’s chest against your chest.
3. Be sure your baby is free to move and lift his head and that he can breathe easily from his mouth and nose.
4. Dry him while continuing to snuggle chest to chest. Pay special attention to drying baby’s back and head.
5. Both of you should be covered with one dry blanket.
Note: The information on this site is for your general use so be sure to talk to a qualified health care professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your baby’s health.
- “Colostrum: What It Is and Why It's Important” newmomcollective.com, 7 Jan. 2020, newmomcollective.com/colostrum-what-it-is-and-why-its-important.
- “How Often Will My Newborn Feed?” newmomcollective.com, Apr. 2020, newmomcollective.com/how-often-will-my-newborn-feed.
- "How to Clean, Sanitize and Store Infant Feeding Items" Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2020, cdc.gov/infantfeeding/cleansanitize.
- “How to Wake a Sleepy Baby to Feed” newmomcollective.com, Sept. 2019, newmomcollective.com/how-to-wake-a-sleepy-baby-to-feed.
- “The Importance of Skin to Skin.” newmomcollective.com, 2020, newmomcollective.com/the-importance-of-skin-to-skin-with-baby.
- “Timing Breastfeeding: Is It Best for Baby?” newmomcollective.com, Jan. 2020, newmomcollective.com/timing-breastfeeding-is-it-best-for-baby.
- “5 Ways to Increase Milk Supply, Starting on Day One” newmomcollective.com, Nov. 2019, newmomcollective.com/5-ways-to-increase-milk-supply-starting-on-day-one.