What's Causing This Change in Nursing patterns?

Kathleen Tackett's picture


Dear Lactation Consultant,
I have been breastfeeding my 12-day-old son since his birth and I thought we were beginning to settle into a routine. He normally feeds every 2 to 3 hours during the day and night for anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes. In the last few days, however, I have noticed a change in his feeding habits which worry me. He no longer will nurse for longer than 10 minutes before falling asleep at the breast. I have tried everything to keep him awake. When I put him down, he wakes up within 20 minutes and fusses, appearing to still be hungry. When I put him back on the breast, he falls asleep after less than 5 minutes. Can you tell me what is causing this? Is there something I could possibly be doing wrong?

Thanks very much,


Hi Cynthia,
Your baby is just about he right age to be going through the infamous 10 day growth spurt. Just when you think you're beginning to settle into a routine, a growth spurt crops up and makes you wonder what's wrong with you, your baby, your breasts, or all of the above.The fact is that it is very typical for newborns (babies up to 6 weeks) to have these variations in their feeding schedules and nursing patterns. Usually, things will settle down to normal within a few days. It isn't realistic to expect a two week old infant to be on any kind or predictable schedule, so your best bet is to 'go with the flow' and try not to over analyze the situation or stress too much about it. Of course, if your baby shows signs of illness or is losing weight, that's a different story. If you have concerns about your baby's health, take him in for a checkup and a weight check. Most of time, you'll find out that everything is fine, and the doctor doesn't have any idea why your baby's nursing patterns have changed.

Keep track of your baby's urine and stool output, and look for signs of illness such as fever or lethargy. If all that checks out, then try to nurse on demand without watching the clock and worrying about how long he stays on the breast, or whether he takes on breast or both. Chances are that he is just settling into his own individual nursing pattern, and you need to give him a few more weeks before you expect much in the way of a schedule.

All the best,

-- Anne, IBCLC