Watching the baby and “reading” the message they are sending you is often the best way to decide they need a breastfeed, rather than watching the clock.
If you think about your eating and drinking pattern over the day, ask yourself is it always the same everyday? Do you notice that some days you have a hungry day, where you have 3 substantial meals as well as a few snacks and then there are other days where you aren’t as ravenous? It’s like that for our little babies as well, they have days when they seem to want to breastfeed very frequently and other days when they may not be as hungry.
It’s normal for a baby to breastfeed 8-12 times in 24 hours. You may find that some babies are regular feeders and will feed every 3 hours around the clock. Whereas other babies will feed more erratically, they may “cluster feed” – where they feed every hour or so for about 4-6 hours and then will settle and have a longer sleep. It makes sense that if a baby is having a long sleep they will need to jam more feeds into the rest of the day.
Here is a lovely chart with the messages that your baby is sending you, they are also known as feeding cues. Keep in mind - it’s much easier to feed a baby when you notice the early feeding cues than the late cues. If your baby is crying then they will feed better if you first hold them upright against your chest and soothe them before trying to breastfeed.