Timing breastfeeding: Is it best for baby?
We have been frequently asked why there is no breastfeeding timer in our newborn app, NuuNest. We didn’t just forget! This post will help to explain.
Timing breastfeeding is NOT in the best interests of moms and babies! Here’s why.
Every baby is unique and each feed with your baby will be different. No two feeds will be exactly the same length. Sometimes your baby may only need a snack or just a little cuddle; other times, your baby may be ready for a three-course meal! It takes time to learn, but it is important to follow your baby’s signals.
The length of time a newborn is at the breast does not give information about the volume of milk the baby received. It may take one baby forty minutes to get the same amount of milk that another baby received in just ten minutes. If a timer is used, a mother may unknowingly end a feed before her baby is satisfied.
The first few days of life
In the first days of life, some newborns are alert, eager to feed and will nurse quite quickly. Other newborns are sleepier as they transition to the outside world; they may need a reminder that it is time to eat. They may also need to be stimulated to continue feeding.
If your baby tends to be quite sleepy at the breast, breast compression may help him to continue nursing.
Once baby stops feeding on the first breast, try burping and offering the second breast. He may or may not take the second side.
Watch for these signs your baby has had enough milk:
- Baby unlatches himself.
- He no longer sucks actively, despite breast compression.
- His arms and hands relax. (A hungry baby often has his hands tightly fisted.)
If you are uncertain whether or not your baby has finished feeding, snuggle him against your chest. If he stirs and wants to feed again, return him to the breast.
Beyond the first few days of life
Older babies tend to finish nursing in a shorter time. The length of a feed will depend on baby’s age, personality and hunger level, as well as mom’s milk supply. It continues to be important to let your baby decide the length of the feed.
If you find that your baby’s feeds are consistently lasting for over an hour, contact someone trained in assessing breastfeeding, such as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Watching your baby, rather than the clock, is a more reliable way to determine if your baby has had enough milk. Babies have different feeding styles and different personalities. For these reasons, our NuuNest app will never have a breastfeeding timer!
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.