Healthy living

Signs your baby is hungry

Your baby should be allowed to feed as frequently as he or she demands. There should be no limit on the maximum number of feeds taken. In a 24 hour period, a well newborn will feed at least 8 to 12 times or more.

Do not wait until your baby is crying for a feed. Be aware of early signs of hunger such as:

  • mouth opening
  • hand to mouth movements
  • rapid eye movement
  • a shallow state of sleep after 1or 2 hours of deep sleep.

How long to feed your baby

The length of time a baby feeds will vary. A newborn baby is often sleepy and may need waking during a feed and encouragement to drain the breast thoroughly. Most babies take both breasts at each feed. Seek assistance if you don’t think your baby is having adequate feeds or is unsettled between feeds.

If you feel pain after you start to feed, your baby is not attached correctly and this may cause sore or cracked nipples. If pain is experienced put a clean finger into the side of your baby’s mouth between the gums to break the suction. Gently take baby off the breast and reposition and reattach him or her. After the feed your breast should feel lighter with no lumps.

Signs your baby is getting enough milk

Fully breastfed babies receiving colostrum (your first breast milk which contains substances to nourish and protect your baby from disease) have one to two wet nappies per 24 hours for the first few days. Once your baby is receiving mature breast milk you can expect:

  • 5 or more wet nappies per 24 hours
  • clear or pale urine
  • soft yellow bowel action – at least 2 to 3 per day for the first 4 to 6 weeks
  • an alert healthy baby with good skin tone
  • an average weight gain of 150 gm or more per week in the first 3 months.

Where to get help

Breastfeeding Centre of WA

  • Counselling and appointments 8.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday
  • Phone: (08) 6458 1844
  • More information about Breastfeeding Centre of WA

Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA)

  • National Breastfeeding Helpline available 24 hours, 7 days a week
  • Phone: 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268)
  • Visit the ABA website (external site)

Ngala Parenting Line

  • Phone: (08) 9368 9368 – 8.00am to 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only)
  • Visit the Ngala website (external site)

You can also:

Breastfeeding Centre of Western Australia

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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