How to Breastfeed

Starting breastfeeding can be challenging and not all babies are the same. By following this advice, you can learn to successfully breastfeed and give your baby the healthiest start possible. Our Breastfeeding Peer Counselors are always available to help you learn breastfeeding techniques and overcome challenges.


It can take some practice for both mom and baby to figure out the position that works best. Keep trying different things to get a deep latch. Getting a deep latch is important to avoid sore nipples. Be patient with yourself – breastfeeding is natural for babies but a learned skill for moms!

Deep Latch Technique
Real Moms Talk About Latching

Feeding Amount & Frequency

Babies have small stomachs to start. Understanding out how much your baby needs to eat in their first days of life will help you feel more confident. It is normal for babies to lose weight in their first few days of life. As they feed more, they will regain weight. 

You can also use their diapers to check if they are getting enough nourishment.

Dirty Diaper chart showing baby's age and frequency of wet and poopy diapers.
Photo Courtesy of WIC Breastfeeding

One Day Old:

  • Stomach is the size of a marble or large bead.
  • It holds just 1 to 1.5 teaspoons. 
  • First breastfeeding should happen within two hours.
  • Your baby will be very sleepy and doesn’t need much to eat.

Days 2 and 3:

  • Baby will start to “cluster feed” – meaning they want lots of short feedings over a few hours.
  • Feed the baby as soon as they start showing signs of hunger. Hunger cues include being more alert and active, sucking and lip smacking, and moving their fists to their mouth or head side to side. 
  • The baby needs 3 – 4 teaspoons of milk during each feeding.

Days 3 – 5:

  • Stomach is the size of a walnut.
  • Holds about ¾ to 1 ounce.
  • Your milk will really start to come in and your breasts will feel full and heavy but will soften when the baby feeds.
  • Cluster feeding will start to reduce, and the baby will fill up and sleep more. Feed the baby on demand when they show hunger cues. 
  • The baby will feed 8 to 12 times a day (every 2 to 3 hours, even during the night) and needs 4 to 6 teaspoons at each feeding.

Additional Information:

  • By 10 days old, the baby’s stomach is the size of a ping pong ball and holds 1 to 2 ounces. 
  • It may take one to two weeks for the baby to return to its birth weight. 
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps and stay in bed as much as you need to during the first two weeks. 
  • Your body won’t make gallons of milk a day, but it will naturally make the amount of milk the baby needs. 
  • Try to empty one breast before moving to the other. 

Milk Supply

If you are breastfeeding, your body will naturally make the right amount of milk for your baby and increase over time as your baby grows. If you are worried you aren’t making enough milk, our Breastfeeding Peer Counselor is available to answer your questions. 

Am I Making Enough Milk? Tips for Successful Breastfeeding (English)

Produzco suficiente leche? Consejos para un amamantamiento exitoso (Español)

There are certain steps you can take to help your body as it works to produce breastmilk. 

  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
  • Make healthy food choices and have plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein. 
  • Avoid things that can hurt your baby if transferred by your milk, including alcohol, smoking, drugs (including marijuana), medications, and dietary supplements. 
  • Be sure to talk to your doctor about all prescription and over the counter medications you are taking to ensure they are safe to take while breastfeeding. 
  • A small number of caffeinated beverages (1 to 2 cups a day) is okay, but drinking too much can keep your baby awake or make them fussy. 

Signs that your baby is full include: 

  • Releasing or “falling off” your breast
  • Turning away from your nipple
  • Relaxing their body an opening their fists
Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk
Real Moms Talk About Milk Supply


WIC Breastfeeding Support

Maryland WIC

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