Baby feeding schedule breastfeeding

Breastfeeding FAQs: How Much and How Often (for Parents)

Breastfeeding is a natural thing to do, but it still comes with its fair share of questions. Here's what you need to know about how often and how long to breastfeed your baby.

How Often Should I Breastfeed?

Newborn babies should breastfeed 8–12 times per day for about the first month. Breast milk is easily digested, so newborns are hungry often. Frequent feedings helps stimulate your milk production during the first few weeks.

By the time your baby is 1–2 months old, he or she probably will nurse 7–9 times a day.

In the first few weeks of life, breastfeeding should be "on demand" (when your baby is hungry), which is about every 1-1/2 to 3 hours. As newborns get older, they'll nurse less often, and may have a more predictable schedule. Some might feed every 90 minutes, whereas others might go 2–3 hours between feedings.

Newborns should not go more than about 4 hours without feeding, even overnight.

How Do I Count the Time Between Feedings?

Count the length of time between feedings from the time your baby begins to nurse (rather than at the end) to when your little one starts nursing again. In other words, when your doctor asks how often your baby is feeding, you can say "about every 2 hours" if your first feeding started at 6 a.m., the next feeding was around 8 a.m., then 10 a.m., and so on.

Especially at first, you might feel like you're nursing around the clock, which is normal. Soon enough, your baby will go longer between feedings.

How Long Does Nursing Take?

Newborns may nurse for up to 20 minutes or longer on one or both breasts. As babies get older and more skilled at breastfeeding, they may take about 5–10 minutes on each side.

How long it takes to breastfeed depends on you, your baby, and other things, such as whether:

  • your milk supply has come in (this usually happens 2–5 days after birth)
  • your let-down reflex (which causes milk to flow from the nipple) happens right away or after a few minutes into a feeding
  • your milk flow is slow or fast
  • the baby has a good latch, taking in as much as possible of your areola (the dark circle of skin around your nipple)
  • your baby begins gulping right away or takes it slow
  • your baby is sleepy or distracted

Call your doctor if you're worried that your baby's feedings seem too short or too long.

When Should I Alternate Breasts?

Alternate breasts and try to give each one the same amount of nursing time throughout the day. This helps to keep up your milk supply in both breasts and prevents painful engorgement (when your breasts overfill with milk).

You may switch breasts in the middle of each feeding and then alternate which breast you offer first for each feeding. Can't remember where your baby last nursed? It can help to attach a reminder — like a safety pin or small ribbon — to your bra strap so you'll know which breast your baby last nursed on. Then, start with that breast at the next feeding. Or, keep a notebook handy or use a breastfeeding app to keep track of how your baby feeds.

Your baby may like switching breasts at each feeding or prefer to nurse just on one side. If so, then offer the other breast at the next feeding. Do whatever works best and is the most comfortable for you and your baby.

How Often Should I Burp My Baby During Feedings?

After your baby finishes on one side, try burping before switching breasts. Sometimes, the movement alone can be enough to cause a baby to burp.

Some infants need more burping, others less, and it can vary from feeding to feeding.

If your baby spits up a lot, try burping more often. While it's normal for infants to "spit up" a small amount after eating or during burping, a baby should not vomit after feeding. If your baby throws up all or most of a feeding, there could be a problem that needs medical care. If you're worried that your baby is spitting up too much, call your doctor.

Why Is My Baby Hungrier Than Usual?

When babies go through a period of rapid growth (called a growth spurt), they want to eat more than usual. These can happen at any time. But in the early months, growth spurts often happen when a baby is:

  • 7–14 days old
  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 months old

During these times and whenever your baby seems extra hungry, follow your little one's hunger cues. You may need to breastfeed more often for a while.

How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby?

That's a personal choice. Experts recommend that babies be breastfed exclusively (without formula, water, juice, non–breast milk, or food) for the first 6 months. Then, breastfeeding can continue until 12 months (and beyond) if it's working for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding has many benefits for mom and baby both. Studies show that breastfeeding can lessen a baby's chances of diarrhea, ear infections, and bacterial meningitis, or make symptoms less severe. Breastfeeding also may protect children from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), diabetes, obesity, and asthma.

For moms, breastfeeding burns calories and helps shrink the uterus. In fact, breastfeeding moms might return to their pre–pregnancy shape and weight quicker. Breastfeeding also helps lower a woman's risk of diseases like:

  • breast cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • heart disease

It also might help protect moms from uterine cancer and ovarian cancer.

Tips for the First Year

Eat, sleep, pee, poop, repeat. Those are the highlights in a day of the life of a brand new baby.

And if you’re a new parent, it’s the eating part that may be the source of many of your questions and worries. How many ounces should your baby take? Do you wake a sleeping baby to eat? Why do they seem hungry all the time? When can your child start solids?

Questions abound — and, despite Grandma’s insistence, the answers have changed since you were a tot. It’s now recommended that newborns, even formula-fed ones, eat on demand (consider it good preparation for the teenage years) and that babies wait to start solid foods until they’re 4 to 6 months old.

On day one of life, your baby’s stomach is the size of a marble and can only hold 1 to 1.4 teaspoons of liquid at a time. As your baby gets older, their stomach stretches and grows.

It’s hard (or impossible, really) to know how much milk your baby is taking in while breastfeeding. But if you’re bottle feeding due to any number of valid reasons, it’s a bit easier to measure.

Here, from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a typical feeding schedule for bottle-fed babies.

AgeOunces per feedingSolid foods
Up to 2 weeks of life.5 oz. in the first days, then 1–3 oz.No
2 weeks to 2 months2–4 oz. No
2–4 months4-6 oz.No
4–6 months4–8 oz.Possibly, if your baby can hold their head up and is at least 13 pounds. But you don’t need to introduce solid foods yet.
6–12 months8 oz.Yes. Start with soft foods, like one-grain cereals and pureed vegetables, meats, and fruits, progressing to mashed and well-chopped finger foods. Give your baby one new food at a time. Continue supplementing with breast or formula feedings.

Every baby is unique — but one thing that’s pretty consistent is that breastfed babies eat more frequently than bottle-fed ones. That’s because breast milk is easily digested and empties from the stomach a lot quicker than formula.

Breastfed babies

There’s no rest for the weary. According to La Leche League International, you should begin nursing your baby within 1 hour of birth and provide about 8 to 12 feedings daily in the first few weeks of life (yeah, we’re exhausted for you).

At first, it’s important not to let your baby go more than 4 hours without feeding. You’ll likely need to wake them up if necessary, at least until breastfeeding is well established and they’re gaining weight appropriately.

As your baby grows and your milk supply amps up, your baby will be able to take in more milk in less time at one feeding. That’s when you might start to notice a more predictable pattern.

  • 1 to 3 months: Your baby will feed 7 to 9 times per 24 hours.
  • 3 months: Feedings take place 6 to 8 times in 24 hours.
  • 6 months: Your baby will feed around 6 times a day.
  • 12 months: Nursing may drop to about 4 times a day. The introduction of solids at about 6 months helps to fuel your baby’s additional nutritional needs.

Keep in mind that this pattern is just one example. Different babies have different paces and preferences, along with other factors that influence the frequency of feedings.

Bottle-fed babies

Like breastfed babies, bottle-fed newborns should eat on demand. On average, that’s about every 2 to 3 hours. A typical feeding schedule may look like this:

  • Newborn: every 2 to 3 hours
  • At 2 months: every 3 to 4 hours
  • At 4 to 6 months: every 4 to 5 hours
  • At 6+ months: every 4 to 5 hours

For both breastfed and bottle-fed babies

  • Don’t give liquids other than formula or breast milk to babies under a year old. That includes juices and cow’s milk. They don’t provide the right (if any) nutrients and can be upsetting to your baby’s tummy. Water can be introduced around 6 months when you start offering a cup.
  • Don’t add baby cereal to a bottle.
    • It can create a choking hazard.
    • A baby’s digestive system isn’t mature enough to handle cereal until about 4 to 6 months of age.
    • You could overfeed your baby.
  • Don’t give your baby any form of honey until after their first birthday. Honey can be dangerous for a baby, occasionally causing what’s called infant botulism.
  • Do adjust your expectations based on your baby and their unique needs. Premature babies are likely to follow feeding patterns according to their adjusted age. If your baby has challenges like reflux or failure to thrive, you may need to work with your doctor on the appropriate feeding schedule and amount they should be eating.

Schedules are the holy grail of every parent. Your child will naturally start to fall into a feeding pattern as their tummy grows and they can take in more breast milk or formula at one sitting. This may begin to happen between 2 and 4 months of age.

For now, though, focus on learning your baby’s hunger cues, such as:

  • rooting around your chest, looking for a nipple.
  • putting their fist in their mouth
  • smacking or licking their lips
  • fussing that can escalate quickly (don’t wait until your baby’s hangry to feed them)

Once your baby is a few months old, you may be able to introduce a sleep/feed schedule that works for you.

Let’s say, for example, your 4-month-old wakes every 5 hours for a feeding. That means if you feed at 9 p.m., your baby wakes around 2 a.m. But if you wake and feed the baby at 11 p.m., just before you go to bed, they may not rouse until 4 a.m., giving you a decent chunk of nighttime winks.

In general, if your baby seems hungry, feed them. Your baby will naturally eat more frequently during growth spurts, which typically occur around 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months of age.

Some babies will also “cluster feed,” meaning they’ll feed more frequently during certain periods and less at others. For example, your baby may cluster feed during the late afternoon and evening and then sleep longer at night (yay!). This is more common in breastfed babies than bottle fed babies.

Worried about overfeeding? While this isn’t really possible to do with an exclusively breastfed baby, you can overfeed a baby who’s taking a bottle — especially if they’re sucking on the bottle for comfort. Follow their hunger cues, but talk to your pediatrician if you’re worried your little one may be overeating.

Your baby is probably ready for solids if they’re 4 to 6 months old and:

  • have good head control
  • seem interested in what you’re eating
  • reach for food
  • weigh 13 or more pounds

Which food to start with? The AAP now says it doesn’t really matter much in what order you introduce foods. The only real rule: Stick with one food for 3 to 5 days before offering another. If there’s an allergic reaction (rash, diarrhea, vomiting are common first signs), you’ll know which food is causing it.

As your baby grows, move from pureed baby food to ones that have more texture (for example, mashed banana, scrambled egg, or well-cooked, chopped pasta). This generally happens around 8 to 10 months of age.

Your supermarket offers a variety of baby food products, but if you want to make your own, keep it sugar and salt free. Additionally, at this stage, don’t feed your baby anything that could be a choking hazard, including:

  • hard foods, such as popcorn or nuts
  • hard, fresh fruits, like apples; cook to soften or chop into very small pieces
  • any meat that isn’t well cooked and very well chopped (this includes hot dogs)
  • cheese cubes
  • peanut butter (though talk to your pediatrician about this one — and the benefits of introducing diluted peanut butter before the age of 1)

As your baby nears their first birthday, they should be eating a variety of foods and taking in about 4 ounces of solids at each meal. Continue to offer breast milk or formula. By 8 months, babies are drinking about 30 ounces a day.

Oh yeah, and buy some stock in a company that makes stain-fighting laundry detergent. It’ll pay for college.

Babies aren’t cookie cutter. Some will gain weight easily, while others will have problems. Things that can affect a baby’s weight gain include:

  • having a birth defect like a cleft lip or palate, which creates problems feeding
  • having a milk protein intolerance
  • being premature
  • being fed with a bottle versus the breast

A 2012 study of more than 1,800 babies found that the infants who were fed with a bottle — regardless of whether the bottle contained breast milk or formula — gained more weight in the first year than babies who nursed exclusively.

Your baby’s doctor is the best one to advise you on a healthy weight range for your baby.

How, when, and what to feed a baby are top worries of every parent — but there’s good news: Most babies are pretty good judges of when they’re hungry and when they’re full — and they’ll let you know it.

You just need to present them with the right choices at the right time and pay attention to their cues. If you have any questions or concerns, your pediatrician is there to help you along the way.

Breastfeeding schedule

Covering the topic of breastfeeding, it is impossible to ignore such a thing as a feeding regimen. All mothers know that modern doctors recommend feeding the baby on demand. However, what this means, each woman understands in her own way. Some mothers believe that on demand is to feed once every 3 hours, others are sure that on demand means feeding at every rustle, etc. Let's try to understand this difficult topic.

If feeding is considered as an act of feeding, then "on demand" means to feed when the child begins to want to eat. If the child screams a lot, it means that the mother missed the right moment for feeding and the baby wants to eat for a long time.

Signs of hunger

Early signs of hunger:

1. The child's activity increases - the baby wakes up, moves.

2. Search movements are made - the child turns his head left and right, looking for the chest with his mouth.

3. There are various sounds, smacking.

4. The kid brings the hands to his mouth, sucks his fist.

If the mother ignores these manifestations, the baby has no choice but to scream heart-rendingly. The cry of the baby in this case will be a signal for the parents, saying that the child has long needed to eat.

If the baby is crying, but no signs of hunger were noticeable before, then it is likely that the baby is crying for another reason - due to a dirty diaper, too high or low room temperature, tummy pain, need for sleep etc. Or maybe he just missed his mother and wants to be in her arms.

Therefore, it is better to first check if there are other reasons for crying? Attention! All of the above applies only to older children.

What about newborn babies?

Newborn babies do not yet have a formed feeling of hunger. These babies are in a state of discomfort. For 9 months of intrauterine development, they are accustomed to living in a calm and warm mother's belly. After that, our world seems to them too loud, too bright, too noisy and cold. The only thing that can reduce this discomfort is the taste of mother's milk and the smell of lubricant produced by the glands on the areola of the nipples. These tastes and smells remind babies of the amniotic fluid they swallowed while in the womb.

That is why feeding babies in the first month of life is breastfeeding for every squeak. And it doesn’t matter how often this happens - once every 5 minutes or 2 hours after the previous feeding. Both of these options are completely normal.

Breastfeeding is not only a meal, it is an important psycho-emotional bond between mother and baby. This is the guarantor of peace and well-being of the child. It is advisable to feed as often and for as long as you and your baby need. Sometimes the baby wants to eat more often and there is less at the breast; sometimes less often, but at the chest longer. Both of these are the norm. And you should not be confused by the opinions of grandmothers / girlfriends / neighbors. Only you, as a mother, can learn to understand your child and correctly perceive his signals about the readiness for eating or the desire to be next to you.

Infant feeding regimen - breastfeeding regimen

Tiunova Elena

Published: 01/15/2023

Reading time: 3.5 min


Pediatricians around the world tend to believe that breastfeeding is the only appropriate way to feed a child. It is mother's milk that contains all the necessary substances and trace elements, and in terms of nutritional value it is many times superior to other products designed to replace it. At the same time, the mode of feeding an infant remains a debatable issue. How, when and how much to feed? Let's take a look in this article.

How to properly organize breastfeeding

Young mothers turn to neonatologists and pediatricians for qualified recommendations, trying to find a specific answer on the Internet. And they get quite conflicting information. Some experts adhere to traditional views: you need to feed the baby strictly according to the schedule in 2-3 hours. Proponents of modern techniques recommend doing this at the request of the child. Of course, it is not always possible to feed the baby at the very moment when he needs a breast. Modern mothers often lead an active lifestyle, and at the same time, not all public places are equipped with special areas for feeding. The way out is to use capes on the mother's shoulder and baby's head, which will cover the baby during feeding. And you can wear comfortable clothes with "lightning" on the chest, allowing you to quickly and accurately feed the baby without attracting increased attention from the champions of morality.

Why daily routine is important

Remember that just because you have become a mother does not mean that you are now isolated from society until the child grows up. The diet can be chosen with maximum comfort for both the baby and herself. The correct daily routine for breastfeeding is convenient for both the baby and the mother. Regular and predictable alternation of hours of feeding, sleep and wakefulness allows you to follow the rules of attachment to the breast. The daily routine helps the baby, nursing mother and other family members to harmoniously distribute energy and receive positive emotions.

For a child. The baby gets used to the rhythmic change of sleep and wakefulness, learns to distinguish between night and day. The breastfeeding regimen protects the child from overwork, creates comfortable conditions for activity and vigor - the most important components of physical and mental development. Regularly repeated actions during the day often calm the baby, create a feeling of safety and security, form discipline and other positive qualities for the future. Children accustomed to the regime have less anxiety, restful sleep and good appetite.

For mother. Having developed a certain feeding regimen during breastfeeding, a mother can rationally plan her day. A woman knows when the child will require the mandatory presence, and at what time you can do other things. She gets more rest time, she has quieter nights. Chronic fatigue and restlessness is not the best condition for a nursing mother. Physical and nervous exhaustion changes the quality of breast milk and can lead to its complete disappearance. At the same time, the systematic application of the baby to the breast stimulates lactation. A woman has the opportunity to prepare for feeding - eat in a timely manner, perform the necessary hygiene procedures and tune in psychologically.

Tips for establishing a routine

Individual features. From the moment of birth, the child is tuned to a certain biological rhythm, which determines his activity and daily routine. It is important to adjust to the biorhythms of the baby in a timely manner, in order to subsequently gradually and very carefully correct his behavior. Each newborn has its own temperament and character, which determine its activity, regularity of behavior, adaptability to the outside world. One child from birth is ready to accept mother's conditions, calmly endures pauses between feedings, does not disturb parents at night. Another requires increased attention, likes to stay awake and calms down only at his mother's breast. You need to respond to the demands of the baby, but you should not allow yourself to be manipulated. However, if a child wakes up consistently every night and requires a breast, then it is better to spend half an hour feeding him than to listen to children's cries and consider yourself a very persistent person.

“It is imperative to consult a pediatrician to determine whether the child is fed correctly and in sufficient volume during the day and whether he is gaining enough weight. A child's restlessness and crying, frequent demands for attachment to the breast may be a sign of a woman's reduced production of breast milk.

Tiunova Elena

Pediatrician of the highest category, nutritionist, candidate of medical sciences, associate professor of the department of faculty pediatrics and propaedeutics of childhood diseases, Ural State Medical University

Dr. Spock is no longer in fashion, in fashion is a healthy, adequate attitude towards the newborn, without ignoring his needs. Moreover, a well-fed child will quickly fall asleep, and you, too, can continue to enjoy dreams.

Dynamic. The frequency and duration of breastfeeding changes with the growth of the child. In the first weeks of life, when the process of establishing lactation and the formation of the stomach of a newborn is underway, the feeding schedule will be sliding. The baby eats often and in small portions. In such a situation, it is unreasonable to withstand the hours between feedings, since the child should not feel hunger, and with it psychological discomfort. From 1.5–2 months, the daily routine of breastfeeding changes. The stomach of the child increases, he becomes stronger and stronger, he consumes more milk in one feeding. The intervals between meals become longer. During this period, you can already try to influence the feeding schedule - streamline it and adjust it in the right direction. In most cases, mothers prefer to adhere to the “feed every three hours” daily regimen. This is convenient, allows you to calculate the time and at the same time helps to form the habit of eating “by the hour” in the child.

The diet of a breastfed child should be agreed with the pediatrician. The frequency and volume of food intake is regulated according to objective indicators of weight, height, and physiological maturity of the newborn. During monthly examinations, the doctor approves the chosen daily routine or recommends making adjustments.

Deviations from the regimen

A change in breastfeeding regimen may be required if the child is ill. Then a more gentle schedule is introduced. Sometimes the baby is just naughty or does not feel hungry by a certain time. In such cases, it is not necessary to force-feed him, and all subsequent attachments to the breast can be slightly shifted.

Breastfeeding routine should not be taken as a dogma. It can combine both recommended techniques. The main thing is that the baby is full and calm, and the mother does not have stagnation of milk and a feeling of constant fatigue.

Tips from pediatricians

Pediatricians identify several features of breastfeeding that directly affect the quality of life of an infant:

  • Mother's milk has an optimal temperature.

  • Women's milk contains all the necessary vitamin and mineral complex.

  • It can be adapted to the individual needs and characteristics of each baby**.

*The Lancet Medical Journal, translation of the article Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms and its effect on later life.

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