How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby Each Time?

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How long you should breastfeed each time depends on several factors, including your baby’s age and your breast milk supply. An average feed can last 10 to 20 minutes, but babies can feed anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes at a time.

Here’s a guide to help you understand how many minutes babies and older babies spend breastfeeding, what changes in breastfeeding duration, and what short and long feedings can mean. You’ll also find advice on when to call the doctor.

Factors affecting the duration of breastfeeding

Some breastfed babies can breastfeed exclusively for 8 minutes. Others need 30 minutes or more to get the same amount of breast milk. Factors that affect the length of a baby’s suckling include:

  • Age: Older babies are usually able to get enough breast milk for a shorter time.
  • Warning: A drowsy baby may not feed as much or as quickly as a baby who is awake and alert.
  • Flow: If breast milk flows quickly and you have an active lactation reflex, you will have more milk immediately. However, if your milk flow is slow and feeding is difficult or delayed, it may take longer for your baby to get enough milk.
  • Health: Premature babies or babies born with health problems may get tired easily while breastfeeding; Frequent breaks can prolong feeding time.
  • Latch: A good pacifier helps babies remove breast milk more efficiently and thus can get full in a shorter time.
  • Milk supply: If you have a low breast milk supply or your baby is going through a growth spurt, your baby may spend more time breastfeeding trying to get more breast milk.

How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby Each Time?

Age may have the greatest influence on the length of breastfeeding. Newborns need time to practice and learn, while older babies become professionals who can empty breast milk in no time.


Newborns should be brought to the breast at least every 2 to 3 hours and nursed for 10 to 15 minutes on each side. Breastfeeding for 20 to 30 minutes helps ensure that your baby is getting enough breast milk. It is also enough time to stimulate the body to accumulate milk supply.

Signs Your Newborn Breastfeeding Enough

If your infant breastfeeds long enough at each feed:

  • Your baby has at least six wet diapers a day after the fifth day of life.
  • Baby is gaining weight well.
  • Your breasts feel softer and less tight after each feeding.
  • Your baby seems satisfied after each feed and sleeps well between feeds.

3 to 4 months

During the first few months, the feeding time is gradually shortened and the time between feeds is slightly longer. When babies are 3 to 4 months old, babies are breastfed well, gain weight and grow fast. It may only take your baby about 5 to 10 minutes to empty each breast and get all the milk he needs.

6 to 9 months

By about 6 months, your baby can start eating solid foods and drinking from a cup. They may also begin to crawl and move more freely. Older babies may have a quick suck at the breast, and then go play. But they may spend more time breastfeeding in the evening and at night.


While breastfeeding continues to benefit one- and two-year-olds, it should not be a major part of a child’s diet. Toddlers should eat and drink a variety of foods.

Your baby may breastfeed only occasionally and quickly. However, they may spend more time at the breast if they are looking for safety or comfort, such as during an illness or after an injury.

Adjust your breastfeeding routine

Follow your baby’s instructions when it’s time to breastfeed; Try not to worry about the clock. When latching on properly and actively suckling, babies should be allowed to suck for as long as they like.

Once the baby stops nursing or falls asleep, you can break the latch, remove the baby from your breast, burp or change the diaper and feed the baby from the other breast.

In some cases, you may experience changes in how long your baby is breastfeeding. You may need to adjust your routine to accommodate changes to your baby’s needs.

Growth spurt

Newborns need more breast milk during and after growth. During periods of rapid growth, babies may breastfeed more often and spend more time than usual with each feed.

The lengthening of breastfeeding is to try to get more nutrition and energy to support the baby’s growing body. It also sends a signal to your body to make more breast milk.

Growth spurts can occur at any age, but they usually occur around 2 to 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 3 months of age. The growth spurts last only a few days, and then the baby usually settles back into a more normal breastfeeding routine.

Food is very short

It may take a few minutes for the milk to come down and start to flow well. If your baby falls asleep or stops feeding before they start feeding, they won’t get enough milk. Plus, the composition of breast milk changes from breast milk to breast milk as your baby breastfeeds.

It’s important for your baby to suck long enough from each breast to get the later milk with more fat and calories. This milk helps your baby gain weight and feel full between feeds.

Ending a nursing session before resting also leaves your breasts full of milk. It can put you at risk for painful engorgement, blocked milk ducts, reduced milk supply, and a number of other common breastfeeding problems.

Try to keep your baby awake and actively suckling on your breast for as long as possible. If your baby feeds for a short time (less than 5 minutes) at most feedings, contact a health care provider. Poor nursing can indicate a medical problem.

Food is very long

In the early days of breastfeeding, it’s not uncommon for babies to nurse for longer or very often. By day five, however, your milk supply should increase and your baby will be able to get all the breast milk he needs in 45 minutes.

If your baby only feeds on your breast for more than 45 minutes at a time, it could mean he’s not getting enough milk. Call your healthcare provider, pediatrician or lactation specialist to evaluate the problem and help resolve it as soon as possible.

Bottle-feeding time versus breastfeeding time

Bottle-fed babies are different from breast-feeding. Some babies have difficulty with bottle feeding and feeding can take a long time. But because the flow of infant formula or breast milk from bottle nipples is steady, a bottle-fed baby with a regular, regular feed can finish a bottle in about 10 minutes.

The flow of milk from the breast is not as regular as when taking a bottle. Breast milk may begin to flow slowly, then flow faster as it drains. Flow slows as milk flows out of the breast.

Breastfed babies will adjust their feeding rate to the flow of breast milk. They pump about once per second or slower when milk flows fast and increase suction when milk flow slows. Therefore, the duration of breastfeeding depends on the amount and flow of breast milk and the baby.

Breastfeeding challenges

If you are concerned about the timing of breastfeeding or if you have any questions about breastfeeding, talk to your baby’s pediatrician. You should also call your healthcare provider if your baby shows certain warning signs, such as too few wet diapers.

When should you call the doctor?

Contact your health care provider if your child:

  • Have very long or very short feedings
  • Have less than six wet diapers daily (after they are 5 days old)
  • Irritability, fussiness and seeming displeasure after most feedings
  • Breastfeeding is not good
  • Too sleepy for most feeds

A very good word

Every baby is different, and so is every parent. Your baby may latch on and suckle well from the first feed or it may take a while to start feeding. You may also have no trouble with your letdown reflex and your milk supply, or you may have trouble letting go and slow milk production. There are many things that can affect the length of breastfeeding.

When starting out, patience is key. You and your baby need time to learn together. It will certainly be difficult and exhausting if you breastfeed for 40 minutes every 2 hours. But don’t give up.

Before you know it, you’ll have a healthy breast milk supply, your baby will get used to breastfeeding, and feeding times will be quicker and easier. Of course, if you are concerned about feeding times being too long or too short or if you have any questions, your healthcare provider is the best source of information.

frequently asked Questions

  • How do you know when your baby is done nursing?

    When the baby is finished feeding, the baby will either fall asleep or let go of the breast and look content. To make sure your baby finishes feeding, let your baby finish the feed. But if they are no longer sucking and have fallen asleep, you can release the suction by sliding your finger between their gums.

  • Can you overfeed your baby?

    If you feed your baby when he’s hungry and end it when he’s finished, there’s a good chance you’ll be overfeeding your baby. That said, if you or a caregiver is bottle-feeding your baby, there’s the potential for overfeeding. Watch for signs of fullness when feeding, such as turning your back to the bottle or keeping your lips closed.

  • Is burping necessary for breastfed babies?

    The purpose of burping is to help remove excess air in the stomach that the baby swallows while feeding. Although burping is often associated with bottle feeding, some health care providers recommend that breastfed babies burp every time you switch breasts.

    Some people find that burping at the end of a feeding also works for breastfed babies while others don’t burp babies. However, swallowing too much air can cause your baby to spit up, have indigestion or be irritable. If you notice these signs, you may want to consider burping.

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