Breastfeeding Basics Newborns

A Visual Guide To How Much Newborns Breastfeed.

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Leading up to the birth of your baby you might be wondering what you’re getting yourself into. I remember wanting to get mentally prepared. Especially for that first month when their tummies are so tiny and they will be eating frequently.

Everyone hears horror stories of sleepless nights with hungry newborns.

It’s so cliche but true…

To a point! Yes, they’ll eat a lot. Yes, you will be tired. Exhausted even. BUT you will be so in love with your mini you to care! It’s really not as bad as everyone makes it out to be!

In fact, I love the sweet, tiny newborn phase. So enjoy all those sleepy cuddles before they turn into a wild toddler.

That first month they are eating, sleeping, pooping machines! They are growing so fast! Their stomachs will literally grow from the size of a cherry on day one to the size of a large egg by day ten. To the size of apricot at the end of the month.

Before we get into the fun stuff let go over the text book stuff… I promise to get to the good stuff quick. I’ll also show you how you can make your own graph from your baby’s feeds with a free app.

So how often do newborns eat in the first month of life?

On Day 1 through 3, they will have  9-12+ booby sessions every 24 hours! They will stay latched on for anywhere from 20-40 minutes. That means you’ll be offering up the goods around every 2 hours.

After your milk transitions over to mature milk, babies will typically eat 10 times a day/night for that first month. By the end of the month, they will be able to go 3-4 hours between feeds and empty the breast quickly.

Frequent Feedings & Transitional Milk

All the frequent breastfeeding seems like overkill but it is necessary and won’t last forever.

The more you spend skin-to-skin and nursing, equals more signals to your body to start producing what you darling needs.

First comes the liquid GOLD! Your wee one will be getting everything they need the first few days from that magical stuff called colostrum. This thick, super golden liquid is truly very cool. It will give your baby an important immune boost in those first days of life.

Milk on day 5

This is when they will be feeding what seems like non-stop because their stomachs are the smallest. Colostrum is catered for a newborn and will fill them up just right. Your milk will always be changing to suit your baby’s needs. No need to stress about “milk coming in”.

After 3-4 days of pure colostrum, your milk will start to transition over a few days to mature milk. When your milk starts to come in will be quite golden, not bright yellow like day 1 and 2.

Your milk will then continue to mature to a more cream/white color and become gradually more watery. Once your milk has transitioned to mature milk their tummies will have been slowly stretching larger. Which means longer stretches between feeds.

Feed On Demand

Girl, feed that baby on demand. It’s so much easier than scheduling feeds. Even if you get the timing right, cluster feeding and growth spurts will ultimately trough it out of wack.

I like to go with the “offer it up every few(2-3) hours” approach along with feeding them when they seem hungry. Your little nugget will give you clues when they’re hungry.

  • Hands in their mouth
  • Lip smacking or tongue thrusting
  • Slapping/hitting your chest
  • Turning head back & forth with mouth open, they’re trying to find a boob! This is called rooting.
  • Starting to get a bit fussy but not freaking out.

There is a range of what is normal

Every mother and newborn love will have a different experience with the exact frequency and duration of nursing sessions. I’m going to show you how much my newborn ate when I fed her on demand. So take this as an example.

You and your babe are unique individuals and will not mirror the graph I’m showing you today. Although it can still give you an idea of what feeding a newborn on demand looks like.

So what does all that breastfeeding really look like?

I am sharing with you my daughter’s graph from their first 14 days of life (pictured below).

Lines clustered close together represents switching breasts. Newborns nurse so frequently, remeber to switch sides!

As you can see the first 7 days are full of cluster feeding galore. This is absolutely normal! They will never eat as frequently as they do when they are teeny, tiny, brand new humans.

A good thing to remember is that serious cluster feeding over a course few hours will result in your babe crashing into a milk coma for a while. This is a good time to get some rest and let someone else watch the baby.You put your time in, give those nips a break.

FedBaby Graphs

I had a tiny obsession with keeping track of my baby’s meals on an app called Feed Baby by Penguin Apps. That’s how I made the chart above. There’s a free and paid version. I started using the free version to keep track of what breast baby had fed from last. When you download the free version you are actually getting all the pro features. Unfortunately, after a certain amount of time, some of the features are taken away (I can’t remember but it seemed like a long time. I also don’t know if they have changed the amount of free trial time). It was a pretty small one time fee to get pro back so I went for it.

You can track all kinds of things including wet/dirty diapers, right/left breast/pumping sessions plus more! I don’t like to track too many things but I found it fascinating to see the patterns within feeding times as I had fed when she wanted.

Feed baby has several graph features. If you choose to use the app too definitely poke around to see all the differnt fetures. The one we aee focusing on today I didn’t even realize was there for weeks. I’ll show you where it is so you don’t miss it.

Click and explore all the icons in the bottom right corner too.

Here is what the timeline page looks like. I put in some fake feed times so you could see what “every 2/3 hours looks like. You can see how differt it looks from a real baby.

Patterns & Trends

After you have been tracking for a few days, you will see just much they are actually breastfeeding. I felt so proud of myself. Breastfeeding takes commitment. Seeing all those little lines made me say, “wow, newborns truly do eat frequently.”

Here you can see the fun pattern I was talking about in the image bellow.. You can see her two main naps during the day. Most prominently you can see where she started sleeping a longer stretch at night. All within the first 15 days.

Once your nugget gets a bit older the charting is helpful in other ways. One thing that is nice is you can see when they are starting to cluster feed. Which means they could be going through a developmental leap or groth spert.

Babies will often nurse more, be crankier then usual, and sleep more or less during a leap or spurt. Makes sense. Growing at lightning speed and learning lots of new stuff will take a toll on your mini you.

Hang in there. Cluster feedings typically only last on and off for a few days. Enjoy the Netflix binge, my dear.

Final Thoughts

I love Feed Baby but I don’t recommend obsessing over tracking every single thing and feed. In fact, I used it was less with my second child. Less time to be extra in general , I guess.

Don’t let anyone tell you-you’re feeding too much or that your not making enough milk. Babies are made to be chowing’ down frequently. You can not overfeed a breastfed baby.

As long as baby is gaining weight and having about 6 wet diapers and 4 dirty diapers a day you are good to go (they will check/ask that good stuff at your pumpkins well checkups).

Hope you enjoyed this visual look at feeding newborns on demand.

Good luck with your new love bug and thanks for stopping by!

Till next time, happy nursing!

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2 Comments

  1. Wow. Never heard of this app. Looks very useful. Currently nursing my second daughter who is almost 6 months old.

    1. breastfeedorbust says:

      That’s awesome! Awe, 6 months is such a cute age. What’s funny is I didn’t even get into all the different features and other graphs. Maybe another post in the future. Have a lovely night, Emese!

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