How long to nurse at each feeding

The length of each breastfeeding varies widely. Some babies are very efficient, fast feeders and are satisfied with only five minutes per breast. Other babies love to suckle and demand up 20 to 30 minutes or more per breast. Offer both breasts at every feeding. The second breast is optional. If your baby chooses to nurse only one breast then begin on the second breast first at the next feeding. You will need to care for the second breast, if uncomfortable. You can either pump that breast and store the expressed breast milk for later use or do nothing, knowing you will start with that side the next feeding. Refer to the section on breast problems if uncomfortable. If you need to remove your baby from your breasts, be careful to avoid nipple damage. With your clean finger (with nail clipped very short), pry your baby's jaws opened at the corner of his/her mouth. Leave your finger in place while you back your nipple out of baby's mouth.

How often to nurse

The goal is eight or more in 24: eight or more breastfeeds in a 24-hour day. The frequency of each breastfeeding will also vary. The average breast fed baby wakes and requests to feed about every two hours. Some babies are hungrier and request more frequent nursings. Feed these babies on their demand. If your baby is quiet and mellow and does not request a feeding, rouse and encourage your baby to breastfeed at least every three to four hours in the beginning. If your baby weighs six pounds or less, rouse and encourage your baby to feed at least every three hours round the clock. The baby's physician will decide when your baby may sleep longer and be fed on demand during the night.

Using pacifier vs. finger suck

Avoid using pacifiers until your baby is latching well to your breast without difficulty. You could choose to place a note on your baby's crib: “No pacifiers please, baby learning to breastfeed.” Use your clean little finger with the nail down to the baby's tongue, if your baby needs more sucking or soothing after nursing. If and when you choose to use pacifiers, think safety first. Purchase a one-piece pacifier that will not be able to come apart into pieces. Wash pacifiers daily or more often when needed in very warm soapy water and rinse well. Allow to air dry. After the pacifier is dry, pinch the nipple. If the nipple sticks together, discard the pacifier to avoid a choking hazard as the nipple may decompose.