How many breastfeeds?

Many new mothers wonder about how many times they should breastfeed their baby each day.

The answer is that babies vary a lot in terms of the number of breastfeeds they need in a 24-hour period. While it is common for babies to breastfeed 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period, some babies may need fewer feeds and some more. A ‘breastfeed’ could be the baby feeding from one or both breasts, or from each breast more than once. Regardless of how many feeds a baby has in a 24-hour period, what is important to know are the signs of adequate milk intake.

The only true way to know how many feeds you own individual baby needs is to feed him when he needs to feed. That is, by watching out for and responding to his feeding cues. The number of feeds in a 24-hour period depends on many factors. For example:

• The age of the baby. Younger babies tend to feed more frequently than older babies.

• A mother’s breast storage volume. This is the volume of milk a mother’s breasts can hold in between feeds. A mother may have a small storage volume, which means that her baby feeds more frequently than a baby whose mother has a large storage volume. However, some babies of mothers with large storage volumes still need to feed frequently, so this is only one factor.

• The weather. In hot weather a thirsty baby may want to breastfeed more frequently but for shorter periods. In this way he is getting more fluid.

• Baby’s needs other than hunger, such as comfort, reassurance and ‘connection’ with mother. Breastfeeding is more than just transfer of food.

© Australian Breastfeeding Association, April 2015

Last reviewed: 
Jun 2016