Baby breastfeeding

Responsive feeding or baby-led feeding as it’s sometimes called is all about you responding to your baby’s cues for food, comfort and reassurance rather than following a set routine or schedule.

By following their lead and letting your baby feed when they need to, you’ll make sure they get the milk they need, when they need it! It also stimulates your milk supply – telling your body to make more for your baby.

It’s also about looking after your own needs too – it might be that your breasts are uncomfortably full, or if you need to fit in a feed before popping out.

Breastfeeding your baby when you just want to spend time together and bond is responsive feeding too, so do this as often as feels right for you and your baby.

Why is ‘responsive feeding’ important for my baby?

Your newborn baby’s tummy is roughly the size of a cherry and can hold about 5ml of milk. This means your newborn will need to feed little and often. As breastmilk is easily digested, your baby can be hungry again soon after a feed. This is why ‘responsive feeding’ is so important.

Signs of hunger

Starting with a calm baby is the best way to feed.

People often think crying is the first sign a baby is hungry. In fact, crying is the last cue your baby will use to tell you they need a feed. If you wait for crying it can be more difficult for your baby to latch. Give your baby a cuddle and try to calm them down before you try to latch them on again.

  • mouth opening
  • stirring from sleep
  • turning their head and rooting for the breast.
  • hands to mouth
  • stretching
  • increased movements.
  • becoming agitated
  • crying