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What is the difference between Nursing on Demand and Responsive Feeding?

“Nursing on Demand” and “Responsive Feeding” are often used interchangeably, but there can be a slight difference in their meaning: 

Nursing on Demand

This term refers to the practice of breastfeeding your baby whenever they show signs of hunger, rather than following a strict feeding schedule. With nursing on demand, you respond promptly to your baby’s cues for hunger, such as rooting, sucking on their fists, or showing agitation. This approach recognizes that babies have varying appetites and feeding patterns and allows them to eat whenever they need to. 

Responsive Feeding

Responsive feeding encompasses a broader concept that goes beyond just breastfeeding. It emphasizes the caregiver’s sensitivity and responsiveness to their baby’s cues and needs, including feeding cues. Responsive feeding acknowledges that feeding is not just about providing nutrition but also about fostering a nurturing and responsive relationship between the caregiver and the baby. It involves paying attention to the baby’s hunger and satiety cues, engaging in eye contact and positive interactions during feeding, and allowing the baby to set the pace of feeding. 

A baby-led approach to feeding

In essence, nursing on demand is a specific aspect of responsive feeding, focusing on breastfeeding and meeting the baby’s hunger needs promptly. Responsive feeding, on the other hand, encompasses a more comprehensive approach that considers the emotional and relational aspects of feeding, promoting a positive and supportive feeding experience for the baby and caregiver. 

Both nursing on demand and responsive feeding promote a baby-led approach to feeding, recognizing the importance of meeting the baby’s individual needs and establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship.

To learn more about what to expect while breastfeeding, here is more information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

PowerMom Connect

The PowerMom platform invites pregnant people to collect and contribute important pregnancy-related health information through app-based surveys and wearable sensors. PowerMom Connect is a new, paid sub-study within the PowerMom platform. It is focused on supporting mothers during the postpartum period.

If you have any questions, the PowerMom team is here to help. You can reach us at

Lauren Serpico

Lauren Serpico, Ph.D, is the Sr. Project Manager of Social Media Content at Scripps Research Digital Trials Center. Her background is in Community Psychology, with a focus on online social networks.