Breastfeeding basics

After having made it through the newborn stage and having a what I would consider a successful breastfeeding journey, I wanted to note the important things to remember. Below are what I feel are the most common and necessary things to know/keep in mind before starting on a breastfeeding journey.


These are tips that are specifically helpful for the newborn stage and may not be helpful past six months.

Breastfeed immediately after birth

Although it may be common in the US for babies to be weighed, measured, and otherwise taken away from the mother immediately after birth, this is not conducive to a long breastfeeding journey. As long as the baby is healthy, it is best to allow them to do the breast crawl immediately after being born, in order to connect baby and mother as soon as possible. This will lay a positive foundation for the rest of the breastfeeding experience for both mother and baby.

Feed on demand

This is probably the most important tip I’ve read in terms of maintaining a good milk supply and having a successful breastfeeding experience. Especially in those early days, it’s important to feed your baby whenever they give you a cue that they’re hungry, or even to comfort them or if you are engorged. Many books recommend not comparing your experience to other people’s experiences or keeping a schedule, since each baby is different and may require different things. There are no right number of feeds to give, and some feedings may seem long. Feeding on demand should trigger your supply so you are able to produce enough milk to meet the nutritional needs of your baby.

It’s okay to wake a baby to feed them

Again, this is especially important in the early days. Some babies will not notify you as soon as they want to be fed. However, it’s important to keep your supply up. If this means occasionally waking a sleeping baby in order to feed them, it may be the best thing to do for both you and baby.


Avoid certain foods

Many of the foods on the list below either tend to cause gas in babies or may have strong flavors that babies may not respond well to. It may not be necessary to cut out all of these foods, but if the baby is having trouble it’s worth considering. These include:

  • Dairy
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Coffee
  • Citrus
  • Alcohol
  • Herbal teas
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spicy foods
  • Parsley, peppermint, and sage

Co-sleeping is beneficial

Many of the resources I found said that co-sleeping with an infant makes nighttime feeds much easier. This can lead to a much more successful and long-term breast-feeding experience. Obviously, you want to be safe about it, but if it’s done correctly, it can be a make or break. In my experience, this is how I got through the newborn stage with some semblance of sanity.

Breastfed babies are different than formula fed babies

This is extremely important to remember when people are giving you advice or you look something up on the Internet. Formula fed babies may have vastly different experiences/routines than a breastfed baby. Babies digest formula differently than breastmilk, which enables them to sleep longer, go longer between feeds, potentially have more gas, and cause other things that you shouldn’t expect from a breastfed baby. Also, breastfed babies will likely have a stronger immune system than a formula fed baby. This may make it possible to leave the house with the baby sooner than typically advised.

6 months+

Sleeping and eating go hand-in-hand

In my experience, good sleep lead to a good eating schedule. If the eating schedule was off, the feeding schedule would be too, and vice versa. Trying to keep things consistent on both sides is the best bet for things going smoothly.

Keep a log

Once my baby was more predictable in her eating and sleeping schedule (~6 months), I started keeping a log. This made it so much easier for me to remember when she slept last, when she ate last, and when I could expect the next thing to happen. I kept the notes on my phone and just added a new column each day. This was so easy and made me feel a lot less scrambled.

Teething will ruin everything

When my daughter started teething, especially with the top front teeth, every routine we had established went out the window. She started feeding every 1 1/2-2 hours when she had been going 3+ hours before and was a lot fussier than normal. In my experience, feeding her on demand for those few days when the teeth came in got us through it with only minimal screaming, and once the teeth erupted, things more or less went back to normal.

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