When you have a young baby and you’re breastfeeding, it can sometimes feel as though you’re nursing constantly.
You might lose track of how long you’ve been feeding, or realise at 3pm that you’ve barely left your seat, due to nursing most of the day.
You might start to wonder, “Is this normal behaviour?” or “Am I making enough milk?”
You might even believe that you’re spoiling your baby by feeding too often.
But most of all, you probably feel as though all you do is breastfeed.
The truth is, it’s common for breastfed babies to feed 8-12 times every 24 hours, which means nursing approximately every 2-3 hours.
Now add these facts:
- A young baby’s waking hours can be almost completely taken up with feeding
- Your baby might not always settle to sleep easily and so you might breastfeed again, as a settling technique
- There are usually a couple of cluster feeding periods during every 24 hours
It isn’t really surprising why mothers feel they are constantly nursing!
When Your Baby Nurses Constantly
So, if a baby nurses constantly, is it a problem or not?
The answer is no, not usually.
The important thing is whether your baby is showing signs of getting enough milk.
Is Your Baby Showing Signs Of Adequate Intake?
If your baby is showing signs of getting enough milk, how often he feeds doesn’t matter.
It’s important, though, to use reliable signs and not unreliable signs, to determine if your baby is getting enough.
Will Constant Nursing Lead To Bad Habits?
Mothers also worry that if their babies are nursing constantly, it will lead to bad habits.
For example, will it mean your baby won’t ever settle to sleep without a breastfeed through the night? Or will it lead to your child becoming a dependent, diffident individual?
The short answer to these questions is no. Find out more about breastfeeding to sleep.
How To Cope With Constant Nursing
The good news is, the period of time where you feel your baby nurses constantly is short lived. Most mothers find that after the first few months, things are a lot more manageable.
In the meantime, there are many things you can do to cope with constant nursing or cluster feeding.
See our article on coping with cluster feeding for more information.
How To Deal With Comments From Others
It’s common for a breastfeeding mother to have to deal with questions and comments about how often her baby nurses. Here are some things people often say, and some suggested responses:
“Your baby is feeding a lot, are you sure you have enough milk?”
Response: “Oh, most definitely.”
“You’re spoiling your baby and creating bad habits by feeding her so often.”
Response: “These are the best kind of habits to form, in my opinion.”
“Your baby will only get foremilk and not put on enough weight if you feed her so often.”
Response: “She’s growing just fine, thanks.”
“If she had a dummy/pacifier she wouldn’t have to use you.”
Response: “If she had a dummy/pacifier, she’d be using the dummy/pacifier as my breasts.”
“What, she’s hungry AGAIN?!”
Response: “Yes, sometimes she wants a snack, sometimes a 3 course meal, and sometimes she’s just thirsty. Just the same as you!”
“You must be tired. You should wean.”
Response: “Of course I’m tired! But weaning won’t help me, as I’ll still be busy, perhaps even busier, preparing bottles and sterilising. Breastfeeding is easy for me.”
“Just offer a bottle and don’t feed at night. He needs to wean.”
Response: “Breastfeeding is working for us. Thanks for your concern though.”
“You’ll be feeding him until he’s five!”
Response: “If that works for him and me, sure.”
You’re not alone if you feel your baby is nursing constantly. Be sure to seek support during these times. You could contact breastfeeding support organisations like the Australian Breastfeeding Association or La Leche League, or see a lactation consultant.