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How to Know When to Breastfeed

Learn how to know when it's time to breastfeed your baby from lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin in this Howcast video.


So how do you know when your baby is ready to breastfeed? Usually, you'll see the baby start to root, which means that sometimes you might see them trying to eat their fist. They might turn toward an object that is stroking their cheek. If you're touching their face they might start to nurse your finger. A lot of times if you're holding a baby, you might see them starting to peck at your shoulder a little bit. Those are all signs that the baby is ready to eat.

Crying is a late cue, so we really don't want the baby to be crying very often. If it's the middle of the night and you're letting them sleep and you're waking up on demand, which is when the baby is ready to eat, you're going to hear them crying. I wouldn't let it go for too long. I'd probably pick them up sooner rather than later. It's much easier to have a baby latch on when they are not so hysterical.

But usually, if that is the case, you'll start seeing the rooting. Even sometimes if they're sleeping and they start to fuss a little bit, that might mean if it's been three hours that they're actually ready to feed. If the baby is a sleepy baby, we might need to wake them up at the three hour mark, which means a lot of times just unwrapping the baby from the swaddle and stripping them right down to a diaper and then putting them on.

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