Knowing how often and how long to feed your baby.

Milk supply is a common concern for mothers. It’s important to know that most mothers make the right amount of milk for their baby.

How often and how long should I feed my baby?

There is no set amount of time for how long your baby should feed at your breast. In the early days it may seem as though it takes a very long time to feed your baby. It is normal to feed eight or more times in 24 hours. Learn more about how often and how long you should feed your baby.

It is also important to look for signs that your baby is ready to nurse. Crying is generally a late cue so look for common feeding cues and behaviours.

Is my baby getting enough milk?

Good signs that your baby is getting enough milk:

  • Your baby wakes for feeding
  • Your baby is feeding eight or more times in 24 hours
  • You can see your baby sucking and swallowing
  • You can hear a soft “kaah” sound as your baby swallows
  • Your baby comes off the breast satisfied
  • Your breasts feels softer after feeding
  • Your baby produces enough wet/soiled diapers
  • Your baby gains weight: 20-30 grams per day

Sometimes babies need extra milk (supplements) even when breastfed. Learn more about when and how to supplement with extra milk.

If you are concerned with your milk supply, find ways to increase your milk supply.

Do I need to give my baby anything other than breast milk?

For the first six months, feeding your baby exclusively with breast milk is recommended.

Vitamin D

All breastfed babies zero to 12 months require 400 IU of vitamin D once a day (before or after a feeding). Vitamin D supplements are available at pharmacies and grocery stores.

If you are using the supplement with a dropper, hold your baby in a semi-upright position with head supported, place dropper to the side of your baby’s tongue and squeeze slowly. Or place vitamin D on a spoon and let your baby suck it off.

If you are using the Baby D drops, place on the nipple and let your baby breastfeed normally.

Water

Babies do not require any water in the first six months.

Breast milk substitutes

We do not usually recommend breast milk substitutes, such as infant formula.

  • It doesn’t have the antibodies, living cells, enzymes or hormones that protect your baby from infections and diseases now, and later in life.
  • It may cause problems for your baby going back on the breast after using a bottle nipple.
  • Your breasts may become hard and sore (as the milk is not being removed).
  • Your milk supply could eventually go away.
  • Your baby doesn't receive all the neurological and emotional benefits of breastfeeding.
  • It is an added expense: $130-$400 per month.

Before you choose to use a breast milk substitute (formula), talk to your local public health nurse. Breastfeeding support is available seven days a week.

If you use a breast milk substitute (formula) for medical or personal reasons, make sure to use a commercial infant formula. It is not recommended to make your own home-made formula, as it will not provide the essential nutrients and calories your baby needs. Formula must be prepared and stored properly to prevent contamination with harmful bacteria. Find instructions and tips from HealthLink BC on feeding your baby formula.