She is 24 days old.

How to know whether the baby is sucking breasts because she's hungry or because she is entertaining/soothing herself?

Accordingly I wish to know when to take the breasts out of the baby's mouth.


About 10 days back I used manual breast pump to measure how much milk I can produce in one go. It was 15ml in 2 minutes from one breast. After 2 minutes the same breast couldn't produce anymore milk at that time.

Usually I put baby to one breast for around half an hour. She sucks for few seconds and then takes a break for another few seconds, so on and so forth.

She falls asleep while sucking but does not leave the breast and the sucking process continues. After half an hour I get tired with the sitting posture therefore take the breast out and put her to sleep.

The baby sleeps for around 5 hours at one go during the day.

I feed her after every two hours. Assuming the baby is sound, in roughly how much time should I expect from her to get her fill with one breast at one go?

  • You seem to be having so many basic problems, it might be a good idea to make friends with someone who also has a baby so that you discuss these problems you are having. Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 5:23
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    @DaveClarke the point of this site is questions and answers. Our site needs more questions to progress, and the OP knows this. Just because she is kind enough to share these questions here does not mean she is struggling with the basics, nor is it safe to infer that we are the only outlet she has for these questions. The questions she is asking are one's many new parents will face.
    – user420
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 14:09
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    @Beofett: My point was not to be nasty or anything like that – I merely wanted to encourage the OP to use/develop her support network in order to more rapidly and comprehensively deal with these fundamental problems. Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 14:15
  • @Beofett Thanks for your support. I was about to ask about this case in meta. I know this site needs questions and it is also a fact that I am a new parent and have no elders or friends around. So, I thought, I and the site both will benefit with my questions. At the same time I was also feeling that I am asking too basic questions which others may find irritating. :( Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 14:49
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    @user462608: No question is "too basic" so just go ahead and ask all you want - please! To make good questions, try to separate the topics into their own posts, and also see the help page How to ask. Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 8:01

3 Answers 3


I poked around a bit on some of the links suggested by La Leche League, well-known experts on breast-feeding, and found some information that may answer your underlying question.

On their "is baby getting enough milk?" resources page, I found a link to a useful description of the baby's eating process. One part in particular sounded very familiar to me, and I'm sure I've seen it in other sources:

those early, quick sucks get everything arranged in his mouth and alert your breast to release the milk. Once your milk is flowing, your baby can’t suck nearly as fast. That change in the rhythm shows that your baby is taking milk. With each swallow, you’ll hear a whispered “kuh” sound –more of a glug for some babies, very quiet for others. Most babies swallow with every suck or two during this phase. Active feeding is a slower rhythm than“priming the pump”.

So a good way to tell when your baby is done feeding may very well be to just listen for a change in the sound. Different babies have different eating patterns, and the volume of milk you produce should increase over time, so timing the feedings probably won't be very effective.

That same link also provided this advice, and while I find the animal comparisons a bit off-putting (I know my wife wouldn't appreciate being compared to a gorilla, dog or a horse!), I think the basic concept is sound:

How do I know when my baby’s finished? He may just drop off by himself, relaxed and loose-limbed. But it doesn’t really matter! Think dog, or horse, or gorilla. If a gorilla Mama can’t reach that banana with the baby attached, she just takes him off. She doesn’t worry about whether or not he’s full. If he fusses, she puts him back on after she gets the banana.

So listen for the sound of your baby swallowing (I've found anecdotal reports that not everyone can hear this, though, so don't worry if you can't tell just by listening), and when you think she's done, you can let her suck longer to self-pacify if you'd like, or you can try unlatching her and seeing if she is content to stop.


Babies usually stop feeding by themselves when they are full. My child would turn her head away from me when she was full, you dont have to take it out from her mouth.

Is it because she is sucking for a very long time that is causing you to worry? Some babies opt for long feeds, while others finish quickly. My cousins child would feed for as long as 30 mins in one go and would cry again for another in another half hour, unless she was sleeping.

It is best to follow your baby's lead not force her to stop before she's ready. Feeding like this is called baby-led feeding.

You may also want to make sure that you have enough milk (although it is very uncommon for women to actually have too little milk).

Here are some useful links for you:

Signs that your baby is getting enough breastmilk

How much milk does a baby need in the first few days?

How do I know when my baby has finished his breastfeed?

How often should I breastfeed my baby

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    My child would turn her head away from me when she was full, you dont have to take it out from her mouth. When baby is soothing herself she won't take it out from her mouth. How would I know in this situation? Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 2:05
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    My wife indicated that it was clear when the baby had stopped extracting milk, and was instead sucking without much effect. At that point she felt she could stop feeding if necessary (although often didn't if she was comfortable and the baby was happy).
    – Henry
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 14:45
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    The lactation consultant we worked with helped us identify the sound of our daughter swallowing. If she was doing lots of sucking with rare/infrequent swallowing, that was the hint it was just self-soothing.
    – Pete
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 21:48
  • Working with a lactation consultant or even just a mother who is experienced with breastfeeding can help you identify what are called flutter sucks, which are sucks designed for pacifying. Note that flutter sucks can still be helpful for milk production and some mothers encourage them. Others who are perhaps "touched out" or want to encourage full feeds but not pacifying may chose to use a pacifier or end the feed at this point.
    – justkt
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 14:05

You can choose almost any short term strategy you like as long as you monitor it to see if it's a good strategy, and are prepared to change it. Babies vary and what was definitely a sign of being done for one baby may not be for another. Some possible short term strategies:

  • baby is sucking more slowly - switch sides, jiggle her to get her interested, keep her feeding actively, after twice on each side declare she's done and move on to something else
  • baby has fallen asleep and her mouth falls open - even if she's only had one side, put her somewhere to sleep and leave her be until she wakes up
  • baby opens her mouth and turns away - take her word for it and if she's awake, switch to playing with her or cuddling her to sleep

About the only strategy that's not a good one is "it has been x minutes" - especially since she will become a better feeder over time.

If you are taking her off "too soon" by following one of these strategies, then she will wake more often and be fussy and you will feed her again more often than before. This may also happen to you anyway when she hits her growth spurt - typically 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks. During a growth spurt it can feel like you spend 30 minutes to an hour nursing, have a gap of that long, and then need to nurse again. This is just temporary, hang in there. If she's not scheduled for a growth spurt but seems to need to nurse more often after you adopt a particular strategy for knowing she's done, then adjust your strategy because she's probably not done. You can also count diapers - the pace of wet diapers should not drop when you start taking her off a little sooner - and longer term you can check her growth rate at the doctor's office. All of these can combine to assure you she really is getting enough.

If your strategy is resulting in leaving her on too long the possible consequences are that you would get more exhausted (20 min of comfort sucking during which you could have been sleeping can add up if it's 10 times a day) or that you could get sore nipples (since she's not trying for milk her latch might slip) but as long as neither of those is happening, don't worry. Do learn how to nurse lying down, it can make a real difference to your energy level and lower your tension about "can we stop yet?"

One of the hardest things to learn as a new parent is how to "read" your baby - is she hungry? tired? lonely? irritated? Does she want it to be quieter? Or is it too quiet? Does she want to be rocked? Or not? And every baby is different. You will have to try some things and see which actions make things better for you all, and which harder. We can't tell you what she needs or likes, and neither can she. But you will come to learn it somehow.

  • Found your answer helpful too! Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 8:43

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