Let Your Baby Time Their Feeds, Not the Clock. Not a fancy app. Or your timer.
When it comes to breastfeeding, it's easy to get caught up in timing each session and trying to stick to a specific schedule. There is literally a plethora of baby feeding schedules online *insert eye roll*. But the truth is, you should let your baby time their own feeds based on their subtle hunger and fullness cues. This can feel like guess work in the beginning when you are just learning your baby. So lets demystify what you are looking for in a feeding session.
The biggest clue or "timer" is if baby is actively feeding or are they passively feeding? You will see certain behaviors for each category. Here is a look at those cues:
Signs Baby is Actively Feeding (still hungry):
- Tense shoulders,flexed arms, hips, knees, and curled toes show baby is working to get milk.
- Steady suckling motions with their mouth and rhythmic flexing and extending of the jaw.
- Chest pressed closely to yours in a feeding posture.
- Hands and mouth actively working at the breast.
- Gaze focused on your face or breast, not wandering.
- Soft caas or swallowing very couple seconds
-Strong suction or pull felt on your nipple
Signs Baby is Passively Feeding (getting full):
- Shoulders, arms, legs, and toes start to relax or extend
- Suckling and jaw motions become slower, less rhythmic.
- Eyes may close or gaze starts to wander.
- Chest and body posture turns away from breast.
- Less interest in latching back on if they unlatch.
- Sucking is like a flutter or light in pattern (less suction is felt)
- No longer hearing any swallows when baby is sucking
Learning these rhythms overtime...
The best way to learn these cues is to room in with your baby at the hospital and after returning home. Once you are home this may mean you are more intentional while feeding. Make sure to tune in at the beginning of the feed to take a mental snapshot of baby when they start feeding. This allows you to identify when active feeding becomes passive feeding. Or even whip out your phone and take a video and let technology work for you ;) . Then at the end of the feeding grab your phone to take a video or photo. You can take those two snapshots and compare for the active and passive feeding cues. The more you tune in at feedings the easier it will be to recognize and answer is baby done feeding? Remember the signs will evolve as your baby grows, tuning in to their personalized timing is key! Trust your intuition and follow baby's lead rather than the clock!
No two babies are the same. If you're struggling to read your baby's cues, don't hesitate to meet with an IBCLC. An expert can help assess feeding effectiveness and timing. You've got this, mama!