Skip to content

    Health & Baby

    Font Size

    Getting On a Breastfeeding Schedule

    When to breastfeed your baby, how long, what to do about nighttime feedings, and more.

    Sleeping Through a Breastfeeding

    While most babies won't have any trouble waking you in the night when they are hungry, this is not always the case. Hanna tells WebMD that some newborns are sleepyheads and don't routinely wake up to eat.

    It's not a good idea to let your baby nap through feeding time until your milk supply is fully developed -- usually two to three weeks after breastfeeding begins, says Hanna. The same way your baby needs to eat, your breasts need to continue to release milk. The more milk that is expressed on a regular basis during the first few weeks of feeding, the more milk your breasts will continue to make later on.

    "If your baby is not waking up for a feeding, don't wait more than four hours before waking him or her. If it continues, do mention it to your pediatrician," says Huotari. By the time your baby is about four weeks old, you can expect her or him to sleep up to five hours overnight without requiring a feeding.

    1 Breast or 2: Which Is Best for Each Breastfeeding?

    In the not so distant past, doctors advised women to switch breasts mid-feeding, allowing baby to start their suckling on one side and finish on the other.

    Today, doctors know that each breastfeeding consists of two types of milk. Experts at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology say the first to be expressed is the "fore milk," which quenches your baby's thirst while supplying sugar, proteins, minerals, and fluid. The second, more filling, and hardier release is "hind milk." This is the creamy, high-fat, super satisfying and most nutritious milk, and necessary for baby's growth and development.

    "If you switch breasts mid-feeding, you risk giving your baby only fore milk and no hind milk. So it's vital that you continue to feed until your breast is fully drained, then turn to the other breast for the next feeding," says Huotari.

    Here's another bonus to breastfeeding one side at a time: The more watery fore milk often causes a baby to have cramps or problems with gas. If you stick with one breast per feeding, making certain your baby is getting hind milk, your baby will likely have less gas and be less cranky as result.

    If, after completing a feeding on one breast and being burped, your baby is still hungry, Huotari suggests you go back to the original breast where you started the feeding. Turn to the second breast only after the original breast seems fully expressed.

    Baby's First Year Newsletter

    Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

    Today on WebMD

    mother on phone holding baby
    When you should call 911.
    parents and baby
    Unexpected ways your life will change.
    baby acne
    What’s normal – and what’s not.
    baby asleep on moms shoulder
    Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

    mother holding baby at night
    mother with sick child
    Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
    Track Your Babys Vaccines
    Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
    Mother with her baby boy
    baby in crib
    baby gear slideshow