how do i know when to switch sides breastfeeding

How Do I Know When To Switch Sides Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is a unique journey of love, nurturing, and profound connection between you and your baby. It’s a crucial part of early parenthood, providing your little one with essential nutrients and antibodies. But it can be complex, particularly mastering when to switch breasts.

Alternating sides is key to maintaining milk supply and ensuring your baby is well-fed. During the early days, it’s recommended to use both breasts per feeding to establish strong milk production. As your baby grows, the need to switch might lessen.

The right time to switch? Look for your baby’s hunger cues like rooting or lip-smacking. Feeling a ‘let-down’ sensation may also hint it’s time to offer the other breast. Remember, a good latch on both sides is vital.

So if you are asking yourself “How do I know when to switch sides breastfeeding?” then carry on reading!

How Do I Know When To Switch Sides Breastfeeding?

Why it’s Important to Switch Sides

Switching sides during breastfeeding ensures that your baby is getting enough milk from both breasts. It also helps your body to stimulate milk production and maintain a healthy milk supply. When you switch sides, your baby is also able to get hindmilk, which is the high-fat milk that comes towards the end of a feeding and is essential for their growth and development.

Signs that it’s Time to Switch Sides

There are several signs that it’s time to switch sides to the other breast while breastfeeding. These include:

  • Your baby’s sucking has slowed down or stopped

  • Your baby has started to fall asleep or is no longer actively feeding. If your baby remains asleep that’s okay — just be sure not to start with the same breast at the next feeding.

  • Your baby appears frustrated with the breast

  • Your breast feels empty or less full

How Often to Switch Sides

There is no set rule for how often you should switch sides to the other breast while breastfeeding.

It’s important to follow your baby’s cues and switch sides when they show signs of being finished with one breast. Some babies may feed from one breast for a longer period of time, without switching breasts multiple times, while others may switch sides frequently during feeding. It’s important to let your own baby lead the way and switch sides as needed.

What if my Baby Only Wants One Side?

It’s not uncommon for babies to prefer one breast over the other. If your baby only wants one side or tends to fall asleep before the next is offered, it’s important to ensure they are getting enough milk from the first breast.

You can switch breasts during the next feeding to ensure that they are getting hind milk from both breasts.

If you are concerned about your baby’s milk intake or have any questions, it’s important to speak with a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider.

Set of 4 Nursling Reminder Clip,Breastfeeding Reminder clips,Nursling Reminder,Breastfeeding Tags,Nursing Reminder Clips, New mom gift

Use a little clip on the side you need to start breastfeeding on for your newborns’ next feed – it’s easy to forget with the hustle and bustle of motherhood!

Maximizing Milk Production

How Switching Sides Affects Milk Production

Switching sides during breastfeeding can really help to produce more breast milk. It ensures that both breasts are being stimulated, which helps to increase milk flow. It also helps to ensure that your baby grows and is getting the right balance of foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is the milk that comes out first and is lower in fat content, while hindmilk is the milk that comes out last and is higher in fat content. Switching sides helps to ensure that your baby is getting both types of milk.

Tips for Maximizing Milk Production

Here are some tips for maximizing milk production during breastfeeding:

  • Switch sides every 10-15 minutes: This will help to ensure that both breasts are being stimulated and that your baby is getting the right balance of foremilk and hindmilk.

  • Use a clock: Keep track of how long your baby is nursing on each side. This will help you to know when it’s time to switch sides.

  • Take pauses and breaks: If your baby is taking a break from nursing, use that time to switch sides. This will help to keep the milk flowing and ensure that both breasts are being stimulated.

  • Compress your breast: Compressing your breast while your baby is nursing can help to increase milk flow. To compress your breast, hold it in your hand with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other side. Press your thumb and fingers together to compress the breast. This technique can also help judge how much milk is left. Just be aware of the milk ejection reflex when the breast milk comes out too quickly.

  • Use a pump: If your baby is unable to breastfeed effectively, using a breast pump can help to increase milk production. Hands-on pumping is a great way to maximize milk production. This involves using your hands to compress and massage your breasts while you pump to help drain them more effectively.

  • Feed your baby when they’re hungry: Feeding your baby on demand is important for maximizing milk production. When your baby is hungry, they will nurse more effectively, which will help to increase milk flow.

Learn more about how to increase your breast milk production: How to Increase Milk Supply Quickly: Tips and Tricks for Breastfeeding Moms

Common Issues and Solutions

Lactose Overload

Lactose overload can occur when a baby receives an excessive amount of foremilk and insufficient amounts of hindmilk. This can cause bloating, green stools, and stomach distress. To avoid this, offer only one breast per feeding until your baby has had enough, and then switch to the other breast. This will ensure that your baby receives neither too much foremilk nor the fatty hindmilk, which is essential for weight gain and healthy growth.

Engorgement and Mastitis

Engorgement occurs when the breasts become overly full and uncomfortable. Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that can cause flu-like symptoms. To prevent engorgement and mastitis, ensure that your baby is latching on correctly and that you are switching breasts during feedings. If you experience engorgement or mastitis, contact a lactation consultant for advice on how to relieve symptoms and prevent future occurrences.

Read more about this here: Engorgement vs Mastitis: Understanding the difference

Fussy Baby

Fussy babies can be a sign of hunger, gassiness, or fussiness. To determine if your baby is hungry, look for signs of hunger such as rooting, sucking on their hands, or smacking their lips. If your baby is gassy, try burping them after feedings and holding them upright for 20-30 minutes after feedings. If your baby is fussy, try changing their position or offering a pacifier.

Learn more about pacifiers for breastfed babies here: The Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies

Ensuring a Healthy Milk Supply

To ensure a healthy milk supply and healthy baby, it is important to nurse frequently and on demand. This will help to stimulate milk production and ensure that your baby is receiving enough breast milk.

Additionally, make sure that your baby is latching on the second breast correctly and that you are switching breasts during feedings to ensure that both breasts are being stimulated equally. If you are experiencing plugged milk ducts or a decrease in milk flow, contact a lactation consultant for advice on how to increase your milk supply.


Switching sides during breastfeeding is an important aspect of nursing, ensuring that your baby gets enough milk. It helps to ensure that your baby gets a healthy supply of both foremilk and hindmilk, which are essential for their growth and development.

There’s no stopwatch dictating the perfect moment to switch; it’s about tuning into your baby’s hunger cues and responding when they seem full or stop swallowing.

If your baby seems unsettled or gassy during feeds, it could be a sign they need more of that rich, fatty hindmilk. Try gently offering a new side more often to ensure they get their fill.

Remember, a successful breastfeeding journey also depends on a correct latch to avoid discomfort and potential complications. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to seek help from a lactation consultant.

Also, don’t forget the burp breaks! It can help prevent complications such as lactose overload, engorgement, and mastitis. If any issues arise, be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider.

Above all, remember you’re doing a fantastic job! Follow your baby’s lead and switch sides as needed. This beautiful journey of breastfeeding is about more than just milk; it’s about love, connection, and understanding your baby’s needs. You’ve got this!


Have questions? I have answers.

Switch breasts when baby slows down or detaches; varies per baby.

Yes, offering both breasts helps maintain breast milk supply too.

Aim for about 10-20 minutes per side, but follow baby’s cues.

It’s okay, but alternating helps ensure equal stimulation and breast milk production and can prevent sore nipples.

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