Breastfeeding a newborn is a time-consuming endeavor. Although some babies begin to eat on a more predictable schedule during their second month of life, others still want to breastfeed frequently. It's OK if your baby isn't on a predictable feeding schedule at a young age; as long as he is healthy and gaining weight, then any feeding pattern he prefers is fine.
Breastfeeding: on Demand or on a Schedule
The American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP, recommends that a newborn be breastfed on demand, or whenever he exhibits signs of hunger. These signs include rooting, physical activity, mouthing and sucking. Watch your baby for early signs of hunger and try to begin feeding him before he cries.
The AAP recommends scheduled feedings only for newborns who do not demonstrate signs of hunger. Premature or sick babies might sleep for long periods without waking or showing signs of hunger. If your 2-month-old baby is healthy and gaining weight, then you can probably wait to feed him until he shows hunger cues. However, if he was premature or isn't having normal weight gain, feed him on a schedule by offering another feeding at a minimum of four-hour intervals.
New mothers are often surprised by how often newborns need to eat; if your baby acts hungry all the time, it might cause you to wonder if something is wrong with your breast milk. But the fact that breast milk is so good for your baby is one of the reasons why he needs to eat so often. Breast milk is easy to digest, so it doesn't stay in your baby's stomach for long. And since your baby's stomach is so small, he can only eat a little at a time.
Frequent breastfeeding is also good for your milk supply. Nursing your baby at least every two hours is one of the best ways to increase a low milk supply. However, for most mothers, nursing whenever your baby is hungry is sufficient frequency to build and maintain a good supply.
Measuring It Out
Measure the frequency of breastfeeding by the amount of time between when you begin each feeding. For example, if your baby starts a feeding at 8 a.m., stays on the breast for 30 minutes and then begins nursing again at 11 a.m., that's a three-hour interval between feedings.
Changes Between the First and Second Month
During the first month, most newborns breastfeed at least eight to 12 times a day. Some might breastfeed even more often. By 2 months, the average frequency of feeding is seven to nine times per day. However, growth spurts occur often during your baby's first year, and a growth spurt will cause most babies to want to eat much more frequently for a few days. Two months is a common age for a growth spurt, so your baby might increase the frequency of his feedings at this age.
There is wide variety in frequency of nursing among babies. Some infants are efficient nursers, only needing to spend a few minutes latched on to empty the breast and able to go longer periods between feedings. Other babies are frequent snackers, preferring to eat often for short periods. And some babies want to nurse constantly, enjoying the comfort as well as the food. By the age of 2 months, you can discourage this non-nutritive sucking and offer a pacifier if your baby seems to be finished eating but still wants to suck. Your body also affects how long and how frequently your baby wants to nurse. Mothers have different levels of supply, different let-down reflexes and different speeds of milk flow.
How to Know if Your Baby is Nursing Often Enough
Watch your baby rather than the clock to determine if he is breastfeeding frequently enough. At the age of 2 months, your baby should continue to gain weight regularly and should have at least six wet diapers a day. Many 2-month-olds still have several bowel movements a day, but it's also normal if your baby goes several days between bowel movements.