Feeding FAQ: 8-12 weeks – Breast Feeding

My 8 week daughter only feeds for a short while at each feed so is feeding little and often

I am experiencing great problems with the amount of time my 8 week daughter feeds for. She will feed for 5-10 minutes, then stops and refuses to take any more milk. We have ended up almost demand feeding.

If my husband tries to feed her at 10.30pm she will only take 1.5-3ozs. She has started to demand a feed between 3-7 times during the night. Feeding for 5 minutes only, as she does not properly wake. It is impossible to wake her fully. I have tried all Gina’s suggestions, but my daughter just gets very distressed but not waking.

Last night, I did not feed her at all during the night. I resettled her with a dummy [she has not had one before] and she went straight back to sleep. This happened three times. I woke her at 6.45am. She would only feed for 10 minutes. At her 9am nap today I had to settle her with a dummy, which she did easily. Normally she settles easily at this time as I have just fed her. I am worried that she is not getting enough to eat if I make her wait until the next set feeding time. I haven’t had her weighed but she is very chubby and in 6month clothes. She weighed 9lbs 6.5ozs at birth. I have lost my confidence so please help.

At present she feeds at 6.50am 3 mins, 7.03am 2mins, 7.35am 1min, 7.51am 1min, 8am 1min, 10.25am 8mins, 10.35am 1min, 10.50am 3 mins, 12.05pm 7mins, 2.25pm 5 mins, 2.35pm 4mins, 3.25pm 5mins, 5.17pm 5mins, 6.15pm 9mins, 10.20pm 8mins, 10.47pm 5mins.

My daughter naps at 8.55-9.30am, 10.50-11am, 11.15am -12midday, 1.45pm to 2.15pm, 4-5pm. She settles at 6.40pm until 10.15pm. At night she settles from 11pm-1,45am, 1.50-3.00am, 3.10-4.20am and 4.30-6.45am.

There are two things you need to look at carefully first before beginning to try to get your daughter’s feeding into a better pattern: your milk supply, and how slow or fast your let down and flow is. You also need to make sure that your daughter is latching on correctly at all feeds and is managing to empty at least one side. At her age, especially if you have a good supply and a fast let down, she will have speeded up her feeding times considerably from those when first born. It is not unusual at all for a baby over 6-8 weeks to only feed for 10-15 minutes, and some may take less time to get a full feed.

It appears though, despite looking as if she has put on weight, that your daughter is “snacking” and using the breast to comfort herself. This will lead to a cycle of your breasts not producing enough at each feed and her receiving only fore milk, which will not fully satisfy her and therefore make her unsettled between feeds.

If you feel that your supply is dropping, follow Gina’s plan for increasing it. See page 52 of the Contented Little Baby Book. You will know through expressing roughly how your supply is.

If you feel that your supply is fine and your let down quite fast then you may have to look at other ways to pacify your daughter rather than always feeding her on and off through the times she is awake.

At 7am in the morning allow her first feed from one breast. Your supply will be at its best then so she may receive all she needs in 5 minutes. Are you aware of her emptying one side at a feed time? In order to take enough of both fore and hind milk she must empty one side before being offered the second. Once she has had 5-10 minutes before 7.45am, providing she is winded and content, let her have some kicking time on the floor or time to sit in her chair. If she begins to fuss, don’t assume that it is hunger and offer her the breast again. Although you may not want to have to use a dummy excessively, using it during waking times to pacify a baby who likes to suck can really help. If she is feeding fast she will need some “sucking time” and a dummy will provide that. Begin to offer her a dummy to suck on after her feeding time of 7-7.45am. Before putting her down for her nap at 9am, offer her the other breast so she will settle well to sleep. She needs about 45 minutes.

From your notes it appears she feeds well at the next feed. Remember, she has speeded up now so 8 minutes could well be all she needs. If she is content after this and is happy to kick for a short space of time then offer her a dummy again rather than the breast, until she is ready to go down for her next nap at 11.30/45am. If she took one side at 10.30am offer the other before her lunchtime nap. Trying to get this nap the longest one of the day should be your aim. Have a look at the article Gina has written on the Lunchtime nap to see how you might best cope with this. If your daughter has never slept through this time for a longer stretch it would be worth trying some of the ‘assist to sleep’ techniques suggested, such as taking her for a pram ride over this time, so she becomes used to sleeping for a longer period of time.

In the afternoon, again be aware of offering her the breast too often. Set yourself a limit to the times you offer her the breast, and don’t feed her after 3.15pm. Once she has taken 8-10 minutes’ worth of a feed don’t keep pushing her to have more, unless you are aware that she is not fully emptying one side. Offer her a pacifier if she appears to be unsettled. Providing she has slept better at lunchtime she may well cut back a little on her afternoon nap, which could affect how often she is waking in the night. The split feed she is receiving at 5/6pm is fine and, as she settles well in the evening, she is obviously getting enough milk at these times to satisfy her needs.

A sleepy feed at 10.30pm is often the cause of unsettled nights. This subject has been covered quite a lot in other questions in the 0-3 months’ sections of both Sleeping and Feeding on the site. In Feeding : Breast Feeding, you will find two relevant questions: “My 6 week old daughter is restless in the evening and is waking earlier in the night” and “My 4 week old baby wakes at 6am, then feeds and naps all morning.”

Waking her by 10pm and then keeping her up until 11.15pm could well help the night ahead. If you husband is willing to do this feed then make it an expressed one and split it as described in:

Once your daughter is taking a better feed at this time you will be able to work on the night time waking. If she has taken a good feed at 10/11pm then she should be able to get to 2/3am before genuinely needing to feed again. If she wakes, or is unsettled before this time try to settle in another way, rather than feeding. Offer her some cool boiled water and give her a cuddle. Using a dummy throughout the night to settle her may mean she begins to associate settling to sleep with that rather then your breast which has been doing so up until now. Look in The Contented Little Baby Book page 148 for a description of the “core night” which is the method used to get a baby to lengthen the time between night feeds. She may still need to feed once in the night, even if only for a short feed before settling back well until nearer 7am. As you noticed the night when you didn’t feed her at all she still only fed for 10 mins at 6.45am showing that she is an efficient and quick feeder.

In order to really assess how your daughter is doing, and also so you can calculate how much she should be able to take at 10/11pm when offered an expressed feed it would be advisable to get her weighed. To get a rough idea stand with her on the scales at home and then weigh your self with out her. This will be an estimate only. In order to know that she is gaining on average 6-8ozs a week it would make sense to use your baby clinic once a fortnight to check on her progress. This knowledge of a steady gain will make it easier for you to assess her real needs between feed times which may be more sucking using a dummy than tiny snacks which will not fill her properly.