factsheet: as your baby grows

Breastfeeding changes as your baby get beyond the newborn stage. Here’s how.

The early weeks of breastfeeding often mean frequent feeds, with no set pattern – this is the way breastfeeding becomes established, and your body adapts to producing the amount your baby needs.

As your baby grows, he will probably need fewer feeds overall, though there will be occasional days when he wants to feed a lot. Most mothers notice it happening at some point after a couple of months, and sometimes before. You might find your baby comes to the breast every two to three hours or more, and he may even go longer from time to time.

It’s normal for your breasts to feel softer and smaller, too, after several weeks of successful breastfeeding. This is fine. It means a lot of your milk is being produced when the baby needs it. Although there is always some milk there, much of the milk is made during the feed itself, without the ‘between feeds’ build-up and storage system. That’s why your breasts may feel as if ‘there’s not much there’.

You and your baby are both doing fine if:

  • your baby appears content and satisfied after most feeds
  • your baby gets on the breast without a fuss at most feeds
  • your baby is healthy, and gaining weight satisfactorily
  • you feel relaxed , and your breasts and nipples aren’t sore
  • your baby has several wet nappies a day
  • your baby has yellow stools that are soft and easy to pass. Fully breastfed babies don’t become constipated (though some may go a few days between stools, and others may poo several times a day!).

how do I know when my baby’s finished his feed?

Sometimes you won’t know for sure. He’ll come off and look ‘full’, and yet want more a little while later. But you will gradually get better at knowing what your baby wants. Some babies, especially older ones, take what they need at some feeds in just a few short minutes.

Long, evening feeds are very common, and many babies need extra comforting and attention in the evenings. It’s the same for bottle fed babies.

will he still need feeds at night?

It’s very normal for babies to wake in the night and need feeding. Breastfeeding makes it easier to meet this need. Babies vary a lot in how often they wake, and how long they wake before being able to go through the night without waking you up. Just do what you need to do to help him back to sleep again.

© Heather Welford