Ann Faust, IBCLC



    Question: My baby wants to breastfeed all the time. How can I know if the baby is hungry?


Answer: Adequate output of wet and soiled diapers and steady weight gain is usually the best way to tell that your baby is getting enough. (Please see “How can I tell if my healthy baby is getting enough”) Especially if your baby is less than four weeks old, take the baby to your healthcare provider and get him/her weighed. Many healthcare facilities do not even need a special appointment for a weight check. Make sure to give them a call though.


If you cannot take the baby to the doctor at this moment:

  • Call your healthcare provider, then give the baby expressed breastmilk or formula, whatever you have available.
  • You can use a syringe, a cup (do not use Dixi® cups, their coatings may be harmful to the newborn baby), finger-feeder, a slow flow bottle nipple.
  • Hold the baby upright –like sitting an older baby on your lap- and the bottle horizontal to the ground, so the flow of the bottle will not be too much or easy for the baby.
  • If the baby is comforted, continue to offer 1 to 2 ounces of expressed milk or formula at every feed until you are able to contact to your healthcare provider.


Please remember that;

  • Sucking is a normal reflex for babies, and babies do not manupulate their parents.
  • Newborn babies have very small and somewhat non-stretchy stomachs.
  • Breastmilk is nearly fully absorbed from stomach. That is why their belly empties very quickly and they may need to eat every hour to an hour-and-a-half.
  • Timing for this feeding schedule is end of the feeding to the beginning of the next feeding. (i.e. if the baby finished eating at 1pm the next feeding should start bout 2-2:30pm.



Question: My breasts feel full, and my baby seems to be nursing all the time. Is it still possible that the baby is not getting

enough milk from me and is still hungry?


Answer: It is possible that you are producing enough milk but the baby cannot remove it. This may happen in cases when the baby is not feeding effectively;

  • The baby is not latching correctly and isn't removing milk efficiently.
  • The baby may be overly sleepy on the breast –especially if you have had any medication during delivery.
  • May have restricted tongue movement causing the baby to tire easily (tongue tie, Ankyloglossia.) 
  • The baby may be confused due to early interference by bottles or other feeding instruments.
  • The best person to evaluate this will be your lactation consultant, and it is always better to contact them sooner than later.

 If you cannot reach to your lactation consultant or your healthcare provider, try to pump or hand express, after every feeding in order to preserve your milk production while you get the baby evaluated.


In very rare cases, women can have a problem with milk release. The breasts will be engorged but milk is not easily removed by any method, including nursing, pumping or hand expression. In other cases, even though the breasts feel full, they may not have begun to produce enough milk to satisfy the baby’s hunger. Make sure to contact your health care provider as soon as possible to correct things, so you and your baby can get back to enjoying breastfeeding many moths to come.


This page is last updated 02/25/2010






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