Why does my breastfed baby want to feed SO frequently?

Number 14—Your baby is having a growth spurt.

Why does my breastfed baby want to feed SO frequently?

It can be overwhelming and nerve-racking for new parents when their baby seems to want to eat and eat and eat. But there are many reasons why your baby wants to nurse again, and all of them are okay, healthy and normal.

Breastfeeding is so much more than just giving your baby food to satisfy hunger. Breastfeeding patterns and length of time at the breast change with your growing child, from day to day and month to month, so hang tight!

The best thing you can do as a new mama is respond to your little squirming babe the way your instincts tell you, and stick them back on the breast.


Here are 16 reasons why your baby may want to nurse again:

1. Your baby is learning

As natural as breastfeeding is, you and your baby have some things to learn, and the more practice you both have, the better you will both get at this.

2. Your baby is adjusting to extrauterine life

Infants have immature nervous systems, and after a full day of taking in new sounds, smells, and sights, they’ve seriously had enough, and just start to cry (this is sometimes referred to as the “witching hour”).

This doesn’t mean you have less milk (you typically have more fatty milk later on in the day), but you may have less of a flow. Nursing and suckling is what will help calm him. He needs his mama (and her breasts) to help him adjust.

3. Your breast storage capacity

Almost all mothers can make enough milk for their babies, but the amount we can store varies. If you are a small breasted woman, your baby may need to feed more frequently throughout the day and your child may empty both of your breasts at each feeding. Small breasts may be able to hold a smaller capacity of milk, but they do make the same amount as larger breasts.

4. Your baby is not latching well

It is possible your baby has a lip and/or tongue tie, or just a shallow latch. If you are in pain, if the baby seems to slip off the breast, if your nipple comes out flattened like the top of a lipstick, if the baby has slow weight gain, and you have very very long feedings, you may want to reach out to a lactation consultant and pediatrician to have his latch and mouth checked.

5. Your baby is setting the pace

Your baby decides how much and how long he wants to nurse. By feeding more frequently, your baby is boosting your supply, and also increasing the fat content in the breastmilk. The longer you wait in between feeds, the lower the fat content. If your baby wants to feed again, follow his lead, and know he is setting his own pace.

6. Your baby’s stomach size

When your baby is born, his stomach is the size of a marble, and he needs to feed small amounts ALL THE TIME. As he and his stomach grow, this will affect how much milk he takes in and how many times a day he will need to feed.

7. Your baby wants comfort

There is nothing more comforting to a baby than to be close to her mama. Any stress, changes in life or routine, new developmental stage, etc. are all reasons to need mama and her boobs for love, reassurance and security.

8. Your baby is in pain

Any sort of discomfort or pain, your baby will want you, and will feel the most relaxed and calm on your breast. Oxytocin—the hormone produced when you breastfeed (otherwise know as the “love hormone)”—is the best.

9. Your baby is tired

Breastmilk has components that help babies feel calm, full, and fall asleep. Often your baby will ask to nurse because he is sleepy and needs some of his mama milk to help him get there. Sleep for your baby happens most easily right on you.

10. Your baby is thirsty

As your kiddo starts to move around and become more of a big kid than a newborn, they get thirsty. Nursing for thirst is a-ok.

11. Your baby is getting sick or is already sick.

An increase in frequency can precede a sickness for your little one. This will provide your baby with immunity and antibodies to fight it off. Or, once your child is sick, he may want to spend the whole day on your breast. Nothing makes him feel better than warm milk and his mama’s warm body.

The best part is that bacteria from your baby’s mouth actually goes into your breast and changes your milk to fight off exactly what he has. Plus, hydration is always best when your baby is sick.

12. Your baby wants to suck.

This does not mean he is “using you as a pacifier.” As stated in Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice by International Lactation Consultant Association, “Breastfeeding is the natural outlet for a child’s sucking urge until this urge is outgrown.” Plus, having your baby suckle releases oxytocin for you and for baby so you both feel totally awesome and creates the best mama and infant attachment.

13. Your milk supply needs a boost.

If your supply has decreased for whatever reason, you may find your baby doing more frequent feeds. To make more milk, you need to empty your breasts more. It is supply and demand, and your babe is a smart cookie.

14. Your baby is having a growth spurt.

When your baby is going through a growth spurt, they feed more frequently, which will adjust your supply to give them what they need. Expect a few along your breastfeeding journey, typically around 2 weeks, 6 weeks, and around 3 months.

15. Your baby is catching up.

If you had a super sleepy baby or medicated birth, you may find it’s difficult to get the baby to nurse at first. Then they start to wake up, and you can’t seem to get him to STOP nursing. He is probably just catching up!

When your babe is a bit older, typically around three months, he will be distracted by everything around him in life where you may have a VERY long feeding or a few of them to catch up after what he missed all day.

16. Your milk tastes good! Simple as that.

Trust yourself and trust your baby. As long as your baby continues to have good output (lots of poops and pees), is healthy and generally happy, does not seem to be in pain, and gains weight appropriately, frequent feedings do not mean low supply.

Try to adjust the expectations you have heard from friends, your mother-in-law, or modern western culture so you do not put any extra pressure on yourself. Don’t watch the clock and don’t compare your breastfeeding journey to your best bud’s.

Keep in mind the important facts: healthy babies nurse at a minimum of 8-12 times in 24-hours. Remember that in order to make milk you need to fully and frequently empty your breasts, and setting a schedule or limiting feedings will actually be harmful to your supply and your growing baby.

When you nurse your baby when he’s telling you he wants to, you are fulfilling his emotional and physical needs—remind yourself that YOU ARE AMAZING.

You are doing exactly what your baby needs and wants. You’re a great mama.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

Keep reading Show less

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money