Breastfeeding the three-month-old

What should I expect when my baby is three months old?

At three months of age, babies are more alert. They are easily distracted at the breast but feed more effectively. Feeds last about 10 to 15 minutes at each breast. Mothers with a large milk supply may find that their babies breastfeed a little more often, faster, and are less likely to take the second side. This is a stage when mothers are getting to know their baby better. Paying attention to their baby’s behaviour will help mothers understand what they need. At this age, choking should become less frequent and the baby will poop less often. Babies still need a lot of holding but can happily spend short periods playing on their own. They have lots of awake times but still need to be breastfed to sleep. If they sleep longer than five hours, mothers should consider waking them to feed, especially if their breasts feel quite full after their longer sleep.

A) Breastfeeding the three-month-old baby

Table: Typical Breastfeeding Patterns at Three Months of Age

(Links to more information about the topics in the above table: large milk supply; length of time on the breast; amount of time from the start of one feed to the start of the next; one or both breasts)

1) Breastfeeding patterns

As babies grow, they become more effective at feeding and will feed faster. Feeding length becomes more variable, with some longer and some shorter feeds. At this age, feedings as short as five minutes per breast are normal. If mothers force their babies to feed for longer, they get mad! Rather mothers should just follow the baby’s hunger and ”done” signs.

Most babies need the second breast some of the time. If the mother has a large milk supply, babies tend to just want one breast at each feed and will feed more often.  With a more average milk supply, babies are more likely to need both breasts and will feed a little less often. Both are normal behaviours.

2) Nutrition and growth

 The baby’s milk intake is stable.

 Babies are fleshy, with full tummies, thighs, and necks. 

3) Behaviour at the breast

While the baby may still choke, gulp, and pant at the start of the breastfeed, the baby is learning how to deal with these and the baby is much more settled while breastfeeding. Clicking does not bother babies and is normal at this age.

Babies are more alert now and are easily distracted at the breast. Sometimes they look around and don’t let go. This is called nip-lash. It is normal behaviour but it can cause pain in the mothers and this should be addressed. They also pop off and on.

The baby’s personality is starting to show. How the baby breastfeeds, explores the mother’s body, or asks to breastfeed are individual characteristics. In order to breastfeed, mothers have to listen to their baby and understand their signs. This is one of the benefits of breastfeeding: mothers get to know their babies and learn how to respond to the baby's needs.

B) Behaviour patterns

1) Gut symptoms

The baby’s gut is more mature and producing stools (poops) less frequently now. This also means that the baby's tummy cramps (the gastrocolic reflex) is settling down. Burping can help if the baby still gulps while breastfeeding.

Babies who started spitting in the first month after birth will continue to do so.

2) Fussy behaviour

Babies at this age still need lots of holding but can happily spend short periods playing on their own. They have lots of awake times but still need to be breastfed to sleep.

The evening fussies are regular and predictable and are followed by a sleep that can be as long as five hours. If they sleep longer than five hours, consider waking them to feed. This is especially important if mothers breast feel quite full after the sleep or if the baby is not growing well.

C) Output

Babies’ stool production changes after one month. The stools become more pasty and are produced less often. Some babies even go for a few days without stooling.

D) Changes in the mother

1) Breast changes

Many mothers become concerned their softer breasts and the baby's “evening fussies” mean their milk supply is decreasing. It is not. As long as the baby is growing well, mothers can be reassured that they are normal.

Some mothers needlessly start to supplement their babies with expressed breast milk or infant formula at this time. If mothers have started supplementing for these reasons, they can consider decreasing or stopping these.

2) Milk changes

The milk looks less rich and is slightly blue. These are normal changes and reflect the changing needs of the baby.