As your baby gets older you may wonder how often they need to breastfeed during the day. While every baby is different it is important to make sure they are getting the minimum amount needed.
Most babies may begin to eat solids around six months which could change how often they want to breastfeed, especially if you offer a lot of solids quickly.
How often should a 6-month-old breastfeed?
During your baby’s first six months you won’t need to give them water, baby cereal or anything else unless you decided to supplement your breastmilk with formula.
Once your baby turns six months you may start to offer solids. However, this should be a slow transition and breast milk should be the primary source of nutrition for the entirety of the first year.
A six-month-old baby will still need to breastfeeding around six times a day typically every 3-4 hours. Some babies will breastfeed more frequently while others may nurse less frequently – this can largely depend on your breast storage capacity.
Here are a few factors to observe:
- Is your baby gaining weight appropriately? Breastfed babies do tend to have slower weight gain at this age, but they should remain on their growth curve (be sure to check out our breastfed baby weight growth chart).
- Does your baby have adequate wet and poopy diapers?
- Is your child meeting milestones and interacting with you?
- Does your child seem content and happy after nursing?
How long should a six-month-old baby nurse for?
It is not uncommon to feel like your baby is suddenly nursing for shorter periods of time as they get older. Many breastfed babies do get more efficient at the breast as they grow, and they may nurse for shorter periods of time.
It is even impossible that they may nurse for just five minutes at a time and get all they need. It’s important to observe the factors above, as well as make sure they are actually nursing when they are at the breast. If you have a distracted breastfeeding baby, you may need to make changes to ensure they are actually eating enough.
What should I know about introducing solids and balancing breastfeeding?
When introducing solids, here are a few “best practices” that we recommend:
- Offer breast milk before solids
- Consider offering a small cup of breast milk alongside any solid foods
- Start out with just one exposure every day or so of solid foods and slowly increase as your child grows
- If your child is highly distracted or doesn’t seem interested in nursing, prioritize sleepy-time feeds when they may be less inclined to reject the breast
If you are feeling overwhelmed about introducing solids while still breastfeeding, you should consider joining “Milk and Solids.” In this on-demand class, I teach you everything you need to know about balancing breastfeeding and solids and feel confident about maintaining your breastfeeding relationship.
How Much Breast Milk Should I Produce at Six Months?
If you are exclusively pumping, you will likely be producing between 24-30 ounces of breast milk a day still. Unlike formula, the amount your baby needs doesn’t increase with age because the composition of the breast milk changes.
If you feed them roughly six times a day they should be getting 4-5 ounces of of breastmilk in each bottle. I do not recommend giving more than five ounces in a bottle at a time.
Breast milk intake really doesn’t decrease in quantity until your baby is around 10.5 months old – so make sure you are prioritizing breast milk at this age still. Even when intake decreases, breast milk should still be the primary source of nutrition until 12 months.
Why am I experiencing a drop in milk supply at six months?
Milk supply can ebb and flow throughout the first year. Many moms do experience a drop around this time due to:
- Going back to work
- Return of their menstrual cycle (read: Breastfeeding and Your Period: Everything You Need to Know)
- Solid foods are being introduced too quickly
- Distracted infant
- Breast pump becoming less efficient
A drop in supply can feel very frustrating, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of your breastfeeding journey. I recommend working with a lactation professional to troubleshoot any issues you might be experiencing.
Some babies will eat a little less frequently or eat for shorter periods of time. It’s not uncommon for a baby to get more efficient as they grow, which can result in a baby eating more and faster and going longer between feeds.
With that said – some babies DO feed more frequently still at this age, so as long as your baby is growing well and happy – try not to worry too much about the frequency!
How often does your six-month-old breastfed baby nurse for? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
Other articles you may enjoy:
- Top Signs of Low Milk Supply To Worry About
- 22 Low Milk Supply Causes You May Not Know About
- The 10 Best Best Books About Breastfeeding
- Why Is Breastfeeding Painful?
- 8 Breastfeeding Problems After A C-Section
- The Ultimate Guide To Dairy Free Breastfeeding
- 5 Soothing Solutions for Dry and Cracked Nipples From Breastfeeding
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.