When Is It Too Late to Start Breastfeeding? – The Facts

By Maria Wilcox •  Updated: 06/06/22 •  10 min read
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If you were unable to breastfeed your baby for one reason or another and would like to give it another shot, you may find yourself asking, “when is it too late to start breastfeeding?” The answer? Never! In this post, we will break down the reasons why it is never too late to start breastfeeding while also providing you with real and practical tips to help you get your breast milk supply established. Let’s dive in. 

What Age Is Too Late to Start Breastfeeding?

Let’s be clear; there isn’t really a time that is “too late” to start breastfeeding. 

However, there is information that you’ll want to know on your journey to establishing breast milk that can facilitate your success. 

Before getting too deep into the topic, we want you to keep in mind that all women are different and will have different experiences when it comes to establishing (or re-establishing) their breast milk supply. Therefore, what happened to one woman may not happen for you. Not all women establish a full milk supply that can feed their child without formula supplementation – but some women can!

Still, the general consensus is that you CAN establish breast milk for your infant– even if you aren’t the infant’s biological mother! You can do the same for your toddler if you so choose.

For added assurance and tailored advice, you may also wish to link arms with a lactation specialist who can guide you during this time with the care, support, and information you need to be successful. 

Now that you know that breastfeeding is possible no matter what age your baby or toddler is, let’s now discuss the advantages of establishing a breast milk supply at various infant ages.

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Can I Start Breastfeeding After 5 Days?

You certainly can! In fact, your odds of establishing breast milk are very high during this time.

To get started simply begin latching your baby at the breast to nurse. At this age, your baby still has its “rooting reflex” making it so that your baby will naturally open his or her mouth when something comes in contact with it. 

Guide your nipple towards your baby’s mouth to encourage him or her to latch on. This will signal your body to produce milk for your baby, though it may not happen right away.

Is It Too Late to Start Breastfeeding at 2 Weeks?

Not at all!

Breastfeeding can certainly still take place if your baby is two weeks old. Guide your baby towards your breast, and allow him or her to latch on. Even if no milk is produced (colostrum and any other milk in the breast may have dried up by then) your baby’s suckling will signal your body to begin producing milk again in due time.

Awesome, right?

Can I Start Pumping 2 Weeks After Birth?

You sure can! But don’t be discouraged if you get no milk, or only a little milk, the first time.

As you continue pumping it will signal your body to make more milk for your baby, which in turn, will lead to more milk pumped. You can even try power pumping, which is a method of pumping often within an hour’s span to mimic cluster feeding.

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Can I Start Breastfeeding 3 Weeks After Birth?

You can breastfeed three weeks after birth just as easily as 2 weeks. It will just require consistency.

The best way to establish your milk supply is to have your baby latch on to your breast multiple times a day for suckling, even if there is no milk present. Over time, you’ll see your milk begin to show up again, and your baby can happily drink! 

Note: Remember that not everyone’s body responds the same. It may take more or less time for your breast milk to return than someone else. Always supplement your baby with formula until you can establish your full milk supply. 

Is 8 Weeks Too Late to Start Breastfeeding?

Can You Start Breastfeeding After 8 Weeks?

Eight weeks isn’t at all too late to start breastfeeding. Remember that the younger your baby is, the higher the chances are that your breast milk can be easily established.

This isn’t to say that your breast milk will come in as easily as other mothers you may know. But you really should have no problem getting your milk going again provided that you have your baby suckling multiple times daily while also pumping (if you choose to pump). 

Can I Start Breastfeeding After 1 Month of Delivery?

Breastfeeding one month after delivery is very possible!

Consult a lactation specialist if you have additional questions on how to get started. 

Can You Start Breastfeeding After 2 Months?

Is It Too Late to Start Breastfeeding at 3 Months?

Even two to three months after delivery, you can still easily breastfeed! Your baby is still very young and still has his or her rooting reflex making it very easy for your baby to latch onto your breast.  

Holding baby’s hand

Can You Start Breastfeeding After 4 months?

You can start breastfeeding at 4 months. Remember that you have the best chances of establishing a full milk supply for your infant when your baby is 6 months of age or younger. Therefore, your chances of successful breastfeeding and having your baby develop a good latch are very high. 

Having said that, babies tend to lose their rooting reflex at around 4 months. This means that your baby may not willingly latch on if he or she isn’t used to breastfeeding.

But don’t give up! You can still successfully breastfeed your baby once your milk comes in by using a pump to summon your milk if your baby refuses to latch. 

Can I Start Breastfeeding at 10 Months?

Breastfeeding is possible no matter how long it’s been since delivery! Stay tuned for tips on how to get your breast milk re-established for a baby of any age. 

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Can You Start Breastfeeding After Stopping?

Yes, you can start breastfeeding after stopping.

You may not believe it but some women have gone months or even years without breastfeeding and still have gotten their milk back. What’s even more shocking is that even adoptive mothers can establish breast milk for their adopted babies with grit and determination. This means that you certainly can restart breastfeeding after stopping if you use the right strategies. 

Can You Go From Exclusively Pumping to Nursing?

Going from exclusively pumping to nursing should be relatively easy. Your breast milk should be fully established. However, your body will need to adjust to how much milk your baby actually needs versus how much you pump. 

If you decide to nurse exclusively and are planning to leave pumping behind for good, you may experience engorgement for a short while if your baby is taking in less milk than what you used to pump using your breast pump. This is nothing to worry about and your body will regulate milk production according to the needs of your baby. If you need immediate relief, you may find that epsom salt for clogged ducts works well.

When going from pumping to nursing, be sure to do plenty of skin-to-skin contact, shorten pumping times to keep engorgement at bay, strive for a good latch, and get help when needed. All of this will lend itself to successful nursing sessions ultimately for the benefit of your baby.

 

How to Start Breastfeeding

Have you wondered “can breast milk come back after drying up?” If so, you aren’t alone.

Try these tips for re-establishing your breast milk:

  1. Know your goals and stick to them. Re-establishing breast milk can take a long time for some, especially once your baby is older than 6 months old.
  2. Allow your baby to suckle as often as you can to signal your body that it is time to produce milk. In the meantime, supplement with formula if your baby is fussy or cranky following his or her nursing session.
  3. If your baby isn’t used to nursing and won’t suckle, try pumping instead. Pump every three hours if you can, and also try to do a power pumping session (pumping at least three times in one hour) at least once daily. 
  4. Don’t give up. Record your progress in a journal and keep track of your victories. Ultimately, re-establishing your breast milk is for the benefit of your child, so your grit and determination matter. Your baby, though he or she cannot speak, will be SO thankful! 
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How to Start Breastfeeding After Bottle Feeding

Remember that re-establishing breast milk after having fed your baby a bottle isn’t as hard as you think. Use the tips above to guide you on your way and be sure to involve the help of a lactation consultant for added help and support.

With the proper method and consistency, you can be supplementing your baby with breast milk, or feeding your baby exclusively with breast milk, even after having stopped. We believe in you! 

 

When Is It Too Late to Start Breastfeeding? Never! 

For those of you moms wishing to re-establish your breast milk, we are happy to report that it is NEVER too late to start breastfeeding. Still, breast milk is easiest to establish when your baby is under 6 months old, so if you are able to do so before then, it would be beneficial. If not, don’t stress. Regular nursing and/or pumping sessions will get you enough milk to at least supplement (or feed your baby full-fledged) in as little as a few months or a few days, depending on your body.

 In the meantime, be sure to supplement your baby with formula until you can get your milk supply established. Good luck!  

Maria Wilcox

Former instructor with an M.A. in Education turned grateful stay-at-home mama to one, I look to share helpful insights related to babies, toddlers, kids, and families for the benefit of real people just like you.

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