When to Switch Sides While Breastfeeding

You can either feed your baby one-sided (one breast offered) or two-sided (bost breasts offered). One-sided feeding is usually adequate in the early weeks of breastfeeding, when you tend to have an abundance of breast milk.  Some moms can successfully breastfeed while one-sided feeding the entire time they are nursing. Others find they need to offer both breasts at each feed.

You may need to offer both breasts at each feed if you are finding Baby is not gaining enough weight, seems hungry soon after breastfeeding or if you are trying to encourage more time between breastfeeds.

However, if your baby has large weight gains and also experiences symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, extreme gassiness, frequent watery bowel movements or excessive spitting up, it may be helpful to one-side breastfeed until these symptoms settle.  

Moms have been encouraged to time breastfeeds but it is best to observe Baby's feeding behavior for signs to indicate when to switch sides, rather than watch a clock. It's best to let Baby finish on one side to maintain good milk supply. 

When to switch sides breastfeeding

1.  Fussiness

Baby may be ready to change sides when you can no longer see or hear him swallowing and he also starts to squirm and wiggle. This can also occur if he wants to burp. So try to burp him first and return him to the same breast.  If he continues to fuss, then offer him your other breast.

2.  If he's falling asleep on your breast

Baby might start to fall asleep when the flow is slow.  (They can also fall asleep when they have had enough to eat). If you don't feel your baby has fed well because he's sleepy, take him off your breast, wake him up, but offer the same breast. If he continues to drift off, then offer your other breast. If he is still hungry he will suck more vigorously, but if he has had enough he is likely to drift off the sleep again. 

3.  When it feels right!

Breastfeeding is not an exam and there is no one 'right way' to breastfeed your baby.  Change sides whenever you feel its right to do so. In time you will learn the subtle signs that indicate your baby's needs regarding breastfeeding.

4. When he comes off your breast

It's normal for Baby to take little pauses or breaks. As these rest periods become longer, you can try gently compressing your breast to see if this causes your baby to start eating again. If Baby has finished on that breast, he will either come off the breast on his own or will fall asleep and stop sucking actively, even once you’ve compressed your breast.