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How Long Should Baby Breastfeed?

How long should my baby be breastfeeding at each feeding?
ByNancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA
Lactation Specialist
Updated
Feb 2017
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Contrary to popular belief, you can’t gauge effective breastfeeding by the number of minutes a baby spends nursing. Just like adults, some babies are fast feeders and others are slow feeders. For example, some newborns get plenty of milk in five minutes, while others need to nurse for 40 minutes to get the milk they need. Typically, babies get more efficient (aka faster) as they get older, but again, there’s a big variation in feeding length from baby to baby at all ages.

The best way to manage breastfeeding is a strategy called “finish the first breast first.” This means leaving baby on the first breast until he comes off on his own, then offering the other breast.

Typically, babies take one breast at some feedings and both breasts at some feedings, which is fine. Follow baby’s lead, because only he knows when he’s had the right amount of milk. If your baby’s gaining a healthy amount of weight, whatever you’re doing is working.

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