Nhs baby feeding schedule

Breastfeeding: the first few days

In the first few days, you and your baby will be getting to know each other. It may take time for both of you to get the hang of breastfeeding.

This happens faster for some women than others. But nearly all women produce enough milk for their baby.

Preparing to breastfeed before the birth

It's good to find out as much as you can about breastfeeding before you have your baby. It may help you feel more confident when you start breastfeeding your baby.

Antenatal classes usually cover the most important aspects of breastfeeding, such as positioning and attachment, expressing, and how to tackle common breastfeeding problems.

Find antenatal classes near you.

You can find out about breastfeeding from your midwife, family and friends, and useful helplines and websites.

There are lots of groups and drop-ins, some specially designed for pregnant women who want to know more about breastfeeding. You can find out more by asking your midwife, health visitor, local peer supporter or GP. Or visit your local Children's Centre.

Skin-to-skin contact

Having skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight after giving birth will help to keep them warm and calm and steady their breathing. 

Skin-to-skin means holding your baby naked or dressed only in a nappy against your skin, usually under your top or under a blanket.

Skin-to-skin time can be a bonding experience for you and your baby. It's also a great time to have your first breastfeed. If you need any help, your midwife will support you with positioning and attachment.

Skin-to-skin contact is good at any time. It will help to comfort you and your baby over the first few days and weeks as you get to know each other. It also helps your baby attach to your breast using their natural crawling and latching-on reflexes.

You'll still be able to bond with and breastfeed your baby if skin-to-skin contact is delayed for some reason, for example if your baby needs to spend some time in special care.

If necessary, your midwife will show you how to express your breast milk until your baby is ready to breastfeed. They can also help you have skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as it's possible.

Skin-to-skin after a caesarean

If your baby is delivered by caesarean, you should still be able to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight after delivery.

Colostrum: your first milk

The fluid your breasts produce in the first few days after birth is called colostrum. It's thick and usually a golden yellow colour. It's a very concentrated food, so your baby will only need a small amount, about a teaspoonful, at each feed.

Your baby may want to feed quite often, perhaps every hour to begin with. They'll begin to have fewer, but longer feeds once your breasts start to produce more "mature" milk after a few days.

The more you breastfeed, the more your baby's sucking will stimulate your supply and the more milk you'll make.

Your let-down reflex

Your baby's sucking causes muscles in your breasts to squeeze milk towards your nipples. This is called the let-down reflex.

Some women get a tingling feeling, which can be quite strong. Others feel nothing at all.

You'll see your baby respond when your milk lets down. Their quick sucks will change to deep rhythmic swallows as the milk begins to flow. Babies often pause after the initial quick sucks while they wait for more milk to be delivered.

Occasionally this let-down reflex can be so strong that your baby coughs and splutters. Your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding supporter can help with this, or see some tips for when you have too much breast milk.

If your baby seems to be falling asleep before the deep swallowing stage of feeds, they may not be properly attached to the breast. Ask your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding supporter to check your baby's positioning and attachment.

Sometimes you'll notice your milk letting down in response to your baby crying or when you have a warm bath or shower. This is normal.

How often should I feed my baby?

In the first week, your baby may want to feed very often. It could be every hour in the first few days.

Feed your baby as often as they want and for as long as they want. They'll begin to have fewer, but longer feeds after a few days.

As a very rough guide, your baby should feed at least 8 to 12 times, or more, every 24 hours during the first few weeks.

It's fine to feed your baby whenever they are hungry, when your breasts feel full or if you just want to have a cuddle.

It's not possible to overfeed a breastfed baby.

When your baby is hungry they may:

  • get restless
  • suck their fist or fingers
  • make murmuring sounds
  • turn their head and open their mouth (rooting)

It's best to try and feed your baby during these early feeding cues as a crying baby is difficult to feed.

Building up your milk supply

Around 2 to 4 days after birth you may notice that your breasts become fuller. This is often referred to as your milk "coming in".

Your milk will vary according to your baby's needs. Each time your baby feeds, your body knows to make more milk for the next feed. The amount of milk you make will increase or decrease depending on how often your baby feeds.

Feed your baby as often as they want and for as long as they want. This is called responsive feeding. In other words, responding to your baby's needs. It's also known as on-demand or baby-led feeding.

In the beginning, it can feel like you're doing nothing but feeding. But gradually you and your baby will get into a pattern and the amount of milk you produce will settle down.

It's important to breastfeed at night because this is when you produce more hormones (prolactin) to build up your milk supply.

In the early weeks, before you and your baby have become comfortable with breastfeeding, "topping up" with formula milk or giving your baby a dummy can lower your milk supply.

Speak to a midwife or health visitor if you are worried about breastfeeding or you think your baby is not getting enough milk.

They might suggest giving your baby some expressed breast milk along with breastfeeding.

Find out more about how to tell if your baby is getting enough milk and tips for building up your milk supply.

Dealing with leaking breasts

Sometimes, breast milk may leak unexpectedly from your nipples.

Wearing breast pads will stop your clothes becoming wet with breast milk. Remember to change them frequently to prevent an infection.

Expressing some milk may also help. Only express enough to feel comfortable as you do not want to overstimulate your supply.

If your baby has not fed recently, you could offer them a feed as breastfeeding is also about you being comfortable.

Help and support for breastfeeding

  • Find out more about positioning and attachment, including how to get comfortable and make sure your baby is properly attached.
  • If you are having difficulties with breastfeeding, take a look at breastfeeding problems.
  • Ask a midwife or health visitor for help. They can also tell you about other breastfeeding support available near you.
  • Search online for breastfeeding support in your area.
  • Call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 (9.30am to 9.30pm daily).

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How often should I breastfeed my baby? | Baby & toddler, Feeding articles & support

When should I feed my baby?

As a rough guide, babies need to feed at least eight to 12 times (sometimes more) over 24 hours during the first few weeks (NHS, 2019a; UNICEF, 2010). That means they’ll probably need to feed every two to three hours.

Watch our video for tips on how often and how long to breastfeed your baby for.

It’s best to feed babies responsively or in a baby-led way rather than sticking to a feeding schedule (WHO, 2009; Entwistle, 2013; Fallon et al, 2016). Letting your baby feed when they want will help them get the milk they need. It will also stimulate your milk supply (Infant and Young Child Feeding, 2009).

What if I’m struggling or worried about the number of feeds?

We know from the experiences of new mums that breastfeeding responsively can feel emotionally and physically challenging (Fallon et al, 2016).

A baby that breastfeeds frequently can give parents a sense of reassurance but it can also cause worry. Some people may think frequent feeding is a sign of insufficient milk, or that baby isn’t getting enough breastmilk during feeds. This sometimes leads to women supplementing feeds with formula milk or deciding to stop breastfeeding (Leurer, 2015).

Try and keep in mind that a newborn baby's stomach is really small. They need to feed little and often (NHS, 2020). It’s really common for babies to have a good feed and then appear to be hungry again quite quickly. This doesn’t mean something is wrong or that they’re not getting enough milk. It’s just the way newborn babies feed (Kent et al, 2012).

All of this also means that newborn feeding is frequent. In fact, much of the time, it’s not really a question of clearly-defined ‘feeds’ with clear beginnings and endings (WHO 1998).

Your baby knows your voice, your smell and your taste but they are much less familiar with the 'world' outside your womb. Staying close to you gives them a vital sense of safety and reassurance. This builds their confidence that they are loved and cared for (Crenshaw, 2007).

If you’re worried, it can really help to talk through your concerns with a breastfeeding counsellor. So call our Infant Feeding Support line on 0300 330 0700.

Will I produce enough milk?

The more you breastfeed your baby, the more milk you will produce (Daly & Hartmann, 1995). If your baby is attached properly, and you’re both comfortable and feeding them when they ask for it, you will make enough milk for them (Kent et al, 2012; WHO 2019).

How do I know when to feed my baby?

When your baby is hungry they may give you little signals, known as early feeding cues (NHS, 2019a,b). They might:

• get restless

• suck their fist or fingers

• make murmuring sounds

• turn their head and open their mouth (rooting).

(NHS, 2019a)

Looking out for and responding to these cues is important. It can help prevent your baby from becoming upset and frustrated, which will make it more difficult to feed them (WHO, 2009). Here's what you might see...

How long should each feed last?

Every baby is different and they will go through different patterns of feeding as they grow (Kent et al, 2012). How much milk a baby needs per breastfeeding session will vary. It’s best to be guided by your child (Kent et al, 2012).

Some feeds will seem to last a long time, with your baby dozing for short periods before wanting more. And more. And still more! It’s normal for a young baby to be on the breast many times a day and night. 12-15 ‘visits’ to the breast is well within a normal range (Entwistle, 2013).

As a general rule, babies who are feeding well will feed for between five and 40 minutes at each feed (UNICEF, 2010). Your baby will let you know when they’ve had enough milk. They will usually come off the breast themselves, look sleepy or calm, and look around (UNICEF, 2010).

During each breastfeed, your milk changes slightly. So the milk at the end of the feed is more creamy and filling than the milk at the beginning of the feed (Ballard and Morrow, 2013). Offer one breast and let your baby feed until they stop drinking. If they still appear hungry, offer the second breast – allowing them to drink as much as they want (NICE, 2015).

Should I wake my baby up to feed?

In most cases, healthy, thriving newborns will wake up for feeds and, provided they are well latched on, get all the milk they need (Australian Breastfeeding Association, 2017). But there might be reasons why a newborn might be more sleepy and therefore need to be woken up for feeds.

This includes medical reasons, such as jaundice, infection or a heart problem, or perhaps because the pain relief used during birth is still affecting them (Australian Breastfeeding Association, 2017). If you’re worried your baby might be sleeping too much and this is affecting their feeding, talk to your health visitor or call our Infant Feeding Support line on 0300 330 0700.

This page was last reviewed in March 2021

Further information

We support all parents, however they feed their child. If you have questions, concerns or need support, you can speak to a breastfeeding counsellor by calling our helpline on 0300 330 0700, whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or using formula milk. Breastfeeding counsellors have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising and will offer relevant information and suggestions. You can also find more useful articles here.

National Breastfeeding Line (government funded): 0300 100 0212.


Australian Breastfeeding Association. (2017) Do I need to wake my baby for feeds? Available at: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/do-i-need-wake-my-baby-feeds [Accessed 20 March 2021].

Ballard O, Morrow AL. (2013) Human milk composition: nutrients and bioactive factors. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 60(1):49-74. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586783/ [Accessed 20 March 2021].

Crenshaw J. Care practice #6: No separation of mother and baby, with unlimited opportunities for breastfeeding. Journal of Perinatal Education2007;16(3):39-43. Available at: doi: 10.1624/105812407X217147 (Accessed 26 Apr 21)

Daly SEJ, Hartmann PE (1995). Infant Demand and Milk Supply. Part 1: Infant Demand and Milk Production in Lactating Women. Journal of Human Lactation. 11(1):21-26. doi:10.1177/089033449501100119 Available at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/089033449501100119 [Accessed 13 April 2021] 

Entwistle FM. (2013) The evidence and rationale for the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative standards. UNICEF UK. Available at: https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/about/evidence-and-rationale-for-the-baby-friendly-standards/ [Accessed 20 March 2021].

Fallon A, Van der Putten D, Dring C, Moylett EH, Fealy G, Devane D. (2016) Baby-led compared with scheduled (or mixed) breastfeeding for successful breastfeeding. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (9):CD009067. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009067.pub3/full [Accessed 20 March 2021].

Kent JC, Prime DK, Garbin CP. (2012) Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing. 41(1):114-121. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1552-6909.2011.01313.x [Accessed 20 March 2021].

Leurer MD, Misskey E. (2015) "Be positive as well as realistic": a qualitative description analysis of information gaps experienced by breastfeeding mothers. International Breastfeeding Journal. 10(10):2-11. Available at: https://internationalbreastfeedingjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13006-015-0036-7 [Accessed 20th March 2021]. 

NHS. (2019a) Breastfeeding: the first few days. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/breastfeeding-first-days.aspx#building [Accessed 20 March 2021].

NHS. (2019b) Breastfeeding: is my baby getting enough milk? Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/breastfeeding-is-baby-getting-enough-milk. aspx [Accessed 20 March 2021].

NHS. (2020) Your breastfeeding questions answered. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/your-breastfeeding-questions.aspx [Accessed 20 March 2021].

NICE (2015) Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth. CG37. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg37 [Accessed 20 March 2021].

UNICEF. (2010) Baby Friendly Initiative. Breastfeeding checklist for mothers - How can I tell that breastfeeding is going well? Available at: https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/10/mothers_breastfeeding_checklist.pdf [Accessed 20 March 2021].

World Health Organization. (1998) Evidence for the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Geneva: World Health Organization. 

World Health Organization. (2009) Session 2 The physiological basis of breastfeeding. In: Infant and Young Child Feeding. Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148970/ [Accessed 20th March 2021]. 

Further reading

Hoddinott P, Craig, LCA, Britten J, McInnes RJ. (2012) A serial qualitative interview study of infant feeding experiences: idealism meets realism. BMJ Open 2:1-14. Available at: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/2/e000504 [Accessed 20 March 2021]. 

Martin CR, Ling PR, Blackburn GL. (2016) Review of infant feeding: key features of breast milk and infant formula. Nutrients, 8(5):279. Available at:  https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/5/279 [Accessed 20th March 2021]. 

Daily routine for a child under 1 year old

Daily routine is a system for distributing periods of sleep and wakefulness, meals, hygiene and health procedures, activities and independent human activities throughout the day.

Compliance with a rational daily routine corresponding to the age characteristics of the child contributes to his healthy growth and development. Getting used to performing various types of activities at the same time, the child is prepared for the upcoming type of activity at every moment of time, which ensures their easier and faster implementation. Compliance with the correct daily routine provides a good mood for the child and maintains a keen interest in the study of the world around him, contributing to his normal motor and psychoverbal development.

The child's daily routine includes the following obligatory elements: diet, time spent outdoors during the day, frequency and duration of sleep, mandatory classes to develop skills in accordance with age, free time.

In the first months after birth, a healthy newborn baby sleeps for most of the day, since all external stimuli are very strong for the nervous system of a child, accustomed to a cozy intrauterine environment, and cause its rapid exhaustion. As the child grows older, the duration of sleep gradually decreases and the time of wakefulness increases.

Age Daytime sleep mode Night sleep Wake mode
From birth to 2 months 6 x 2.5 hours 6 hours During feeding
2-4 months 5 times 2-2.5 hours 6.5 hours 4 x 1.5 hours
4-6 months 4-5 times for 2 hours 7 hours 4 times 2 hours
6-9 months 3-4 times for 1.5-2 hours 8 hours 4 x 2.5 hours
9-12 months 2 x 1.5-2 hours 9-10 hours 4 times for 3-4 hours

Closely related to the sleep-wake mode is the feeding mode of the baby. The sleep of a child in the first months of life is very sensitive and is easily disturbed under the influence of various extraneous stimuli, including hunger.

Age Mode Example
From birth to 2 months 7-8 times, every 3 hours 6,9,12,15,18,21,24 (no night feeding)
From 2 to 6 months 6-7 times, every 3.5 hours

6, 9.30, 13, 16.30, 20, 23.30 (without night feeding)

6, 9.30, 13, 16.30, 20, 23.30, 03 (with night feeding)

From 7-12 months 5 times, every 4 hours 6,10,14,18,22

A child's stay in the fresh air is essential in the daily routine. The total duration of stay in the open air for children under 1 year of age should be at least 5-6 hours a day. Fresh air has a calming effect on the baby, improves metabolic processes, and increases the body's defenses. In the summer, all games and activities should be held outdoors; in the cold and transitional seasons, two one-time walks of 1. 5-2 hours are provided.

Fresh air also has a beneficial effect on sleep. By acting on the skin and mucous membranes of the nose and upper respiratory tract, it provides a faster fall asleep of the child and a higher quality of sleep. Sleeping outside can replace a walk, especially during the cold season.

The child's daily routine is generally individual, but ideally, one should strive to ensure that the child eats after waking up, and then stays awake until the next sleep. A well-slept baby eats with appetite and then calmly and actively plays or engages, and tired of games, easily goes to sleep.

When your baby is awake, try to keep him active and cheerful. It is necessary to dress the child in loose clothing that does not hinder movement, provide access to toys appropriate for his age, and most importantly, actively participate in games and activities with the baby as a whole family.
Author - Physiotherapist - DMITRIENKO T.G.

Feeding a newborn baby - Mom's Club.

All About Pregnancy, Baby & Toddler Development

First Meal

Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your newborn and create an emotional bond between mom and baby. After giving birth, a healthcare professional can help you with your first feeding. Amazingly, newborns can smell their mother's breast milk. They will “look for” him and open their mouths.

Proper feeding takes practice and can be painful at first, especially if the baby does not latch on. Make sure you are in a comfortable position. Ask your midwife to help you with the technique and you'll get the hang of it very soon. Once you master breastfeeding, the process becomes painless and easy. You can read more about comfortable positions and tips for breastfeeding in our breastfeeding guide.


Colostrum is a nutrient-rich, concentrated milk produced in the first days after childbirth. It has a firm texture and yellow color, and also contains many important antibodies that strengthen the baby's immune system.

When is milk “suitable”?

About two to four days after giving birth, you will feel your breasts filling up. At the start of each feed, foremilk is produced, a rare fluid that quenches your baby's thirst.

During feeding, "hind milk" is produced. It is denser, more nutritious, contains more calories and maintains high levels for a long period of time. Therefore, it is important that your baby completely empty the breast before moving on to the second one.

How often should I breastfeed?

Many new mothers worry that their baby is not getting enough milk. In the first few days, a newborn baby will need only a couple of teaspoons of colostrum per day, since his stomach is no larger than a pea. 2

Despite this, feeding may be required every hour. During the first week of life, a baby can lose up to 10% of its birth weight. He will dial it again by the end of the second week.

Let your baby lead

Don't worry too much about scheduling your newborn baby's feeding. Feed your baby "responsibly" for the first few months.

There won't be any clear pattern, but soon you will start picking up signals that your baby is hungry, for example:

Let baby eat as much as he wants, making sure he has completely emptied your breast before moving on to the second. Remember, you cannot overfeed your baby while breastfeeding. Since a newborn baby does not have a sense of time, he will need to be fed regularly at night, so do not wait for a good night's sleep and rest as often as possible.

Spitting up

Spitting up will help expel excess air from your baby's stomach that can cause discomfort. To do this:

  • Keep your baby and spine in vertical position

  • Support the head and neck

  • Directly spent on the back

  • 9000 9 milk adapts to baby

    Breast milk is a truly amazing food. It not only changes its composition, adapting to the growing needs of the baby, but also contains a different level of calories depending on the gender of the child.

    The Benefits of Breastfeeding

    Breast milk is perfectly adapted to your baby's needs, providing the right amount of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins for growth. Listed below are just a few of the myriad benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding.

    Breast milk:

    • Contains all the nutrients necessary for the baby in the first 6 months of life

    • Provides antibodies to strengthen the immune system

    • Reduces the development chances of infections, for example, acute digestive disorder

    • Ideal temperature for baby

    • Helps strengthen the emotional bond between mother and baby


    • Reduces mom's risk of ovarian and breast cancer
    • No special equipment or expense required
    • Can burn up to 500 calories per day, helping you naturally return to your pre-pregnancy weight
    • 9018 Tips

      Good nutrition is essential to keeping your baby healthy and getting the right nutrients from breast milk. Breastfeeding is the most important skill you can learn in the early days. The midwife will share tips and techniques to make the process easier - make the most of her help.

      In the early days - and nights - most of your energy will be spent on breastfeeding. Ask your partner, family, and friends to help with household chores, including diaper changes, so you can get as much rest as possible. In the future, you may want to consider expressing breastmilk so that your partner can fill in for you during feedings.


      1. NHS. Breastfeeding: Positioning and attachment [Online]. 2016. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/breastfeeding-positioning-attachment.aspx [Accessed March 2017]
      2. NHS. Breastfeeding: The first few days [Online]. 2016. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/breastfeeding-first-days.aspx [Accessed March 2017]
      3. Tay CCJC et al. Twenty-four hour patterns of prolactin secretion during lactation and the relationship to suckling and the resumption of fertility in breast-feeding women. Human Reprod 1996;11(5):950-55.
      4. NHS. Sore or cracked nipples when breastfeeding [Online]. 2016. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/sore-cracked-nipples-breastfeeding.aspx [Accessed March 2017]

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