Are you confused on how often you need to feed baby, whether or
not you should wake baby for feedings or put him on a feeding schedule?
It is important that Moms stop looking at the clock, but start concentrating more on baby. A
strict schedule is not needed. Think of the way you eat during the day...would
you like it if someone took your snacks away?
How often should baby be Breastfed?
What is the average feeding frequency? On average newborns will drink
between 8 – 12 times per 24 hours, but it is also totally normal for a newborn
to breastfeed every hour or once every 3 hours. It is also normal if baby
drinks more during certain times and less during others. Very few babies will
adopt a specific pattern (for example eating exactly every three hours).
Baby should not be breastfed less than eight times per
24 hours. The
more you breastfeed, the better especially in the beginning as this is
when a good milk supply is established.
Time Baby Spends at One Nursing Session
Some babies take 5 or 10 minutes to finish while others may take 45 minutes
or longer. As a baby gets older, he/she may start breastfeeding for shorter
periods of time and may start feeding at regular intervals.
* Feeding often will help Mom's uterus return to
its normal size quicker and reduces the chances of hemorrhage.
* It prevents engorgement, which is common in the
first few days.
* It establishes a good milk supply.
A mother should not restrict the time baby spends on a breast. It is best to
allow baby to breastfeed until he/she has decided that they have had enough, and then
change sides if necessary. Doing this will ensure that baby receives the
fattier hind milk, which is the milk produced later on in a feed.
Should I wake baby to breastfeed?
* During the day baby should be breastfed at least every 3 hours and baby can be woken if he/she sleeps past this time.
* You do not need to wake baby at night if he/she have breastfed at least 8
times during the day. But keep in mind that your milk supply can drop if
you do not breastfeed at least once at night.
What if baby wants to breastfeed before three hours have passed?
After a while, you will learn to recognize the
signs of hunger
in baby. This usually includes things like routing for your breast or sucking of fingers.
It is best to breastfeed when you see these signs instead of waiting for
baby to cry as this could become frustrating and cause difficulty in
You do not need to wait specific times before breastfeeding. In
the beginning it is best to breastfeed as much as possible, even if you
think your breasts are empty. They are actually not, as breast milk is
produced continuously. The more stimulation your breasts get, the better,
as this is what signals your body to produce more milk.
This is when a baby feeds every half an hour for a few hours at a time. They
usually sleep for long periods afterwards. Cluster feeding mostly occurs in
the evening hours. Cluster feeding can also occur in children that are a few
months of age, not just newborns.
This is a period of increased growth in baby. During this time a baby will
usually drink more often than usual. This is so that the mother can build a
bigger supply for baby's increased needs during this time.
How to Establish a Breastfeeding Routine that Fits Well for Mom and Baby
* The first few weeks Mom should just concentrate on getting to know baby and establishing a good milk supply.
* Try introducing a feed; wake/sleep pattern or something that is
comfortable for you and baby. Baby will usually catch on to whatever
feeding pattern you introduce.
* Start baby’s day at a specific time every morning. This can be very
helpful to those Moms who need to breastfeed before going to work. Baby
will start to adapt to a breastfeeding routine within about two weeks.
* Going to bed at a set time every night will also help set a
breastfeeding routine. This way Mom has some predictability of when baby
* Usually if you keep other things for specific times such as watching
television or having a bath, baby will start to recognize these things
and associate them with a feeding time.
Should I put my breastfed baby on a feeding schedule?
It is best not to, as research has shown that a baby breastfed
on demand thrives much better than one put on a tight breastfeeding
schedule. Frequent breastfeeding will also help Mom increase her milk
supply. It is best to wait it out and find a breastfeeding routine that
works for both you and baby.