BookmarkBookmarkTick

Q&A: How Often Does a Newborn Nurse?

I feel like I'm always nursing! How often does my baby need to nurse?
Updated
Feb 2017
Hero Image

You’ll need to breastfeed your newborn about every hour or two for the first week or so, even at night. You might get one four- to five-hour sleep stretch if you’re really lucky. This should add up to eight to 12 feedings every 24 hours.

Don’t expect baby to beg for food at regular intervals though. It’s normal for him to breastfeed in “clusters.” For example, he may want to nurse every hour for three hours and then take a three-hour break. This can be pretty time-consuming at first (some babies seem to feed nonstop in the first day or two), but feeding “on demand” (i.e., whenever baby wants to eat) is necessary to help establish a healthy milk supply and keep your baby satisfied. (Baby’s stomach is teeny, and breast milk is digested quickly.) Enlist your partner, family, and friends to relieve you of any responsibilities besides resting, eating, and feeding your baby.

After those first weeks, baby may begin to spread out his feedings a bit, giving you more three- or even four-hour stretches. It’s okay to let baby go up to five hours without feeding at night. Once your milk supply is well-established and baby is thriving, go ahead and let him sleep as long as he wants at night, as long as he’s nursing eight to 12 times each day.

Related Video
Track athlete Allyson Felix running a race.

Nursing Olympians May Not Be Able to Bring Their Baby to the Games

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
05/21/2021
Mom sitting and breastfeeding her baby.

New Study Shows How “Good Bacteria” in Breast Milk Changes Over Time

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/25/2021
Frida's new nursing pillow in use, mom breastfeeding her baby.

This New Product Line Is a Game-Changer for Nursing Moms’ Sore Breasts

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/24/2021
two hands passing a paper heart between them

This Mom Donated 600 Ounces to Breast Milk After Her Newborn’s Death

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
09/14/2020
healthy salad with zucchini

How to Eat a Healthy Breastfeeding Diet

profile picture of Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie
Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie
Contributing Writer
illustration of mom breastfeeding her baby in upright position

8 Breastfeeding Positions to Make Nursing Easier

profile picture of Holly Pevzner
Holly Pevzner
Contributing Writer
Article removed.