How Frequently Should My Baby Nurse?

Updated on October 06, 2009
J.G. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
15 answers

My baby is 12 weeks old and only nurses around 5 times / day. He typically will nurse as follow: 7 AM (wakes at 6:30), again around 10, sometime around lunchtime (12 - 1), again around 4 PM and then sometime around 7. He goes down to sleep sometime b/wn 7:30 and 8:30 and is sleeping through the night.

I'm concerned that he's not getting enough to eat.



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So What Happened?

I should add that he has plenty of wet diapers throughout the day and a poopie diaper every other day or so. He has been gaining weight without issue but I haven't checked him in a few weeks. I think I'll try to take him in to get weighed in the next day or so.

I know I am probably just being paranoid but it's all so confusing to me. Everything I read says babies should eat 7 - 8 times / day and it's recommended to feed him before bed etc --- well, my baby just doesn't fit that mold - so I worry that perhaps something's wrong or I'm doing something wrong or ...

Thanks for the reassurance!

10/6 - You all are so great. Ur responses are amazingly helpful. Thank you! I didn't mention this but there are times when he decides he doesn't want to eat and - I freak out and worry that something is wrong. A night or two ago, he ate around 4:30 pm and refused the breast every time afterwards. I tried several times to feed him (around 7 ish) - before his bath, after his bath and he screamed in defiance every time I tried to feed him. He clearly wasn't hungry. I put him down to sleep (showing signs of tiredness...) and figured he would wake up shortly thereafter to eat...and to my surprise, he slept thru the night. This has occurred a few times and each time, I am surprised that he can go so long without breastmilk. I suppose I should remember, he'll eat when he's hungry and will "tell me" so ... And stop with all of the worrying and stress. Thanks again for your help!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Man, you are so lucky!! I wish my kids did that! I have 2 and I'm still BF my youngest thru the night, she's 18 months old, doesn't need it but I don't have the heart to let her cry, my responsibility. I wouldn't worry too much if he's growing and doing all that babies are supposed to do, just be grateful he's sleeping thru the night, honestly!!

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answers from Medford on

This sounds almost identical to my little guy, and he seemed to get enough! I guess it would depend on how much he is getting at each meal, but if he was hungry inbetween I'm sure he would let you know!Weight gain and diaper counts will also tell you! Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Babies know much better than mommies how much they need to drink/eat.



answers from Los Angeles on

No worries, babies let you know when they want to eat and exactly how much! If he's growing and his development is on target (don't think of it as normal, just think of it as normal for your child) then there is nothing to worry about. If he's not crying, or fussy, or showing any signs of having trouble digesting the breast milk, then you have a happy, healthy, satisfied little guy.



answers from Los Angeles on

This sounds very similar to what my daughter was doing at about this fact, one of our big "struggles" together was when I was trying to get her to nurse more often and she was trying to "drop" a feeding. She was a very efficient nurser, apparently, and would nurse for a long time, just not as often as I expected. I think it sounds like he is doing just fine!

BTW, I think my daughter dropped the fifth feeding at about 4.5-5 months (moving to around 4 hours between feedings) - I think that was the "drop" that I wasn't expecting (when we had nursing troubles). Once we were settled in a little better in that routine, she was so much happier. Our babies really do communicate their needs to's just sometimes it's hard for us to catch it! ;) Seems a lot more clear when looking back, but in the moment, sometimes it is just frustrating! We kept that 4x/day nursing until I started weaning her after she was a year (went very slowly - about a 4 month process, starting right after her first birthday).

You are doing great! There is SOOO much information "out there", but don't forget to go with your instincts as they begin to develop more clearly. You'll start to know what the healthy norm is for your little guy, and it will feel like 2nd nature before you know it! :)



answers from Los Angeles on

He knows when he needs to eat - if you are feeding him "on demand" and he is eating when he wants/needs to, he'll get all of the nutrients that he needs to grow and thrive. Keep up the great work!



answers from Honolulu on

In light of your recent remarks that he refuses to nurse.... have you tried looking in his mouth and seeing if he has "Thrush" or anything, or early teething? Many times, mouth discomforts makes a baby appear to "not" want to nurse.
If there are white patches in his mouth... then that is Thrush and he has to be taken to the Doctor to treat it, and your nipples too.

ALSO, I would tell your Pediatrician about this.
Even though your baby has wet/poopy diapers and is gaining weight.
Maybe he does not want to nurse... maybe have you tried a bottle? I know, that is not the desired option. But maybe, since he is only 3 months old. And yes, for the 1st year of life, a baby's PRIMARY source of nutrition is from breastmilk/Formula, and they need to be fed on demand for the 1st year. This is per my Pediatrician.

But as you said, your baby is gaining weight and has the wet/poopy diapers. But at 3 months old, this is ALSO a growth-spurt time, and typically they feed more at these times or whenever there is a growth spurt.

I would, check with your Pediatrician.

All the best,



answers from Los Angeles on

This link might help:

And yeah, this is a super reputable source.

It sounds like maybe you ought to try to add in another nursing time if possible, but if the pattern is working...

The thing to ask yourself is this: Is weight gain good? Is diaper output good? Plenty of wets during the day? Is he meeting his milestones? Does he seem happy and content or does he seem fussy and cranky?

Here's a link on diaper output for your baby's age group:

My DD was a super efficient nurser and had a pattern similar to yours.

Just a word since you are approaching 4 months. Remember, that baby sleep patterns change over time. Do not be surprised if, around 4 months or so, he suddenly starts waking in the night. This is the 4 month wakeful period and it can go on for a while. It can be really trying. If you do hit this, just remember that your breastmilk is the PERFECT food for him and he is going through a very normal developmental stage. Info on the 4 month wakeful period here:

Here's info on the distractible nurser, too in case you hit this stage soon:

Best of luck and keep up the great work!



answers from Houston on

How are his diapers? Is he wetting and soiling them appropriateley? Does he seem to be gaining weight? If his diapers are being used properly, he is getting the right amounts of fluids. If he is gaining weight, then he is most likely a very efficient nurser and gets all he needs from his mommy. If you are anwering no to these questions, you may just want to wake him before you go to bed for the night and feed him one last time each day and see if this helps.



answers from Los Angeles on

It sounds like he's getting enough to eat. If his diapers are wet and he's pooping regularly, he is probably getting enough. If you are concerned, a weight check is always a good idea, but I think your son is doing well. Consider yourself VERY lucky to have a baby that sleeps through the night and eats well!

K. - resources and a strong community for OC moms


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.,
At four months, I think this sounds just fine. As long as he is eating on demand; sounds like he is. Of course, this will all change as soon as he hits a growth spurt, then you'll be nursing him every hour on the hour, so enjoy this breather! :)



answers from Los Angeles on

my son did about the same thing (granted, he took some formula too because i had a low milk supply)...he'd get up around 7, eat, and eat about every 3 hours after that...then sleep through the night. he was/is totally healthy and fine. as long as your son is gaining weight and peeing/pooping enough (ask your dr) he's probably getting plenty.

good luck!


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.,
I had very much same schedule as you have. My little one slept thru the night at about 8 weeks. I think as long as they are happy and sleep well and gain weight normally you dont need to worry. I have happy 18 months old that use to nurse for 9 months ( I wish I could longer)
Wish you best!!



answers from Los Angeles on

Check out his weight gain, if he is on the right track, it should be fine. You are so blessed. Sleeping through night already. :)



answers from Los Angeles on

Sounds good to long as he's growing and wetting diapers, he's fine.


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