Important things to know about your baby’s feeding patterns.
It is important that mothers stop worrying so much about a breastfeeding routine and also stop looking at the clock, and start concentrating more on their babies. 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?
Baby's Feeding Cues
• Rooting: Turning of the head towards the side or opening the mouth. • Wriggling: Moving around. • Sucking: Sucking on anything that he/she can, including their own hands. • Fussiness: Being restless. • Crying: This is the last sign of hunger. A parent should not wait until their baby is crying, as this can cause them to gulp and choke while feeding.
Frequency of feeds, refers to the time a baby starts a feed, to the next time the baby starts a feed.
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 4 hours. It is also normal if a baby drinks more during certain times and less at other times. Very few babies will adopt a specific pattern (for example eating exactly every three hours).
Cluster Feeding in Connection with Feeding Patterns
This is when a baby feeds every half hour for a few hours at a time; they usually sleep for long periods of time afterwards. Cluster feeding usually occurs in the evening hours. Cluster feeding can also occur in children that are a few months of age, not only newborns.
This is a period of increased growth in a baby. During this time a baby will usually drink more often than usual. This is so that the mother can build a bigger supply of milk for her baby's increased needs during this time.
Some babies take 5 or 10 minutes to finish, whilst others may take 45 minutes or longer. As a baby gets older, he/she may start breastfeeding for shorter periods of time and also may start feeding at regular intervals.
A mother should not restrict the time her baby spends on a breast. It is best to allow the baby to breastfeed until he/she has decided they have had enough, and then change sides if necessary. Doing this will ensure that the baby receives the fattier hind-milk, which is the milk that is transferred later on in a feed. Read more about hindmilk/foremilk imbalance here.
Signs that a Baby has had Enough Milk (is satiated)
• The baby will fall asleep. He/she might stay attached or come off the breast on their own.
• Baby starts to comfort feed with a higher suck to swallow ratio as mentioned above.
Bowel Movements (stools)
Newborn babies may have a bowel movement immediately after, or even during a feed. After a few months, this frequency becomes less and some breastfed babies may have only one stool every 7 to 8 days. This is because breast milk is so easily digested.
A newborn baby’s tummy can only hold about two tablespoons of fluid. This is why a baby only needs a little colostrum, the first few days. As the mother's milk supply increases, so does her baby’s stomach capacity. Colostrum is also so much more concentrated than formula, or even mature breast milk. This is why only small amounts are needed.
Newborn babies are also born with extra fluid in their cells, to compensate for the small amounts taken in during the first few days of life. The extra fluid leaves the body once it is not needed anymore.