Time to feed the babies

Feeding Your Newborn (for Parents)

How you feed your newborn is the first nutrition decision you make for your child. These guidelines on breastfeeding and bottle feeding can help you know what's right for you and your baby.

Breast or Bottle?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for about the first 6 months. After they start on solid foods, babies should breastfeed through the first year of life and even beyond, if desired.

But breastfeeding isn't possible or preferable for all new moms. Deciding to breastfeed or bottle feed a baby is usually based on the mother's comfort level with breastfeeding and her lifestyle. In some cases, breastfeeding may not be recommended for a mom and her baby. If you have any questions about whether to breastfeed or formula feed, talk to your pediatrician.

Remember, your baby's nutritional and emotional needs will be met whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your newborn has many benefits. Perhaps most important, breast milk is the perfect food for a baby's digestive system. It has the nutrients that a newborn needs, and it’s easily digested. Commercial formulas try to imitate breast milk, and come close, but can't match it exactly.

Breast milk has

antibodiesthat help protect babies from many infections, including diarrhea and ear and lung infections. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop medical problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and allergies. Breastfeeding also might make a child less likely to become overweight.

Breastfeeding is great for moms too. It burns calories, so can help nursing moms lose the weight gained during pregnancy. Breastfeeding also may offer protection from breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Some moms find breastfeeding easier and quicker than formula feeding — it needs no preparation, and you don't run out of breast milk in the middle of the night. Also, breastfeeding costs little. Nursing mothers do need to eat more and may want to buy nursing bras and pads, a breast pump, or other equipment. But these expenses are generally less than the cost of formula.

Breastfeeding meets a variety of emotional needs for both moms and babies. The skin-to-skin contact can enhance the emotional connection, and providing complete nourishment can help new moms feel confident in their ability to care for their newborn.

Limitations of Breastfeeding

With all the good things known about breastfeeding, why doesn't every mother choose to breastfeed?

Breastfeeding requires a big commitment from a mother. Some new moms feel tied down by the demands of a nursing newborn. Because breast milk is easily digested, breastfed babies tend to eat more often than babies who are fed formula. This means moms can be in demand as often as every 2 or 3 hours in the first few weeks. This can be tiring, but it's not long before babies feed less often and sleep longer at night.

Some new mothers need to get back to work outside the home or separate from their babies from time to time for other reasons. Some opt for formula feeding so other caregivers can give the baby a bottle. Mothers who want to continue breastfeeding can use a breast pump to collect breast milk to be given in a bottle, so their babies still get its benefits even when mom isn't there to breastfeed.

Fathers and other family members may want to share in feeding the baby. When mom is breastfeeding, dad or siblings may want to stay close by. Helping mom get comfortable, or providing a burp cloth when needed, will let them be part of the experience.

When breastfeeding is going well, other family members can help by giving the baby pumped breast milk in a bottle when mom needs a break.

Some moms may feel embarrassed or worried about breastfeeding. These feelings usually end after a successful breastfeeding process is set. It can help to get advice from those who've gone through the experience. Most hospitals and birthing centers offer in-depth instruction on breastfeeding to new moms. Your pediatrician, nurse practitioner, or nurse can answer questions or put you in touch with a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding support group.

In some cases, a mother's health may affect her ability to breastfeed. Moms getting chemotherapy for cancer and those who have HIV should not breastfeed, for example.

If you have a medical condition or take any medicines regularly, talk with your doctor about whether it's OK to breastfeed. If you have to stop nursing temporarily, continue to pump breast milk to maintain milk production. If you or your baby are sick, continue to breastfeed if you can. Talk to the doctor if you have any concerns.

In some situations, it may not possible to breastfeed, such as when a baby is very sick or born early. Mothers should talk with their baby's doctor about expressing and storing milk. Often, a baby who can't breastfeed can get breast milk through a feeding tube or bottle.

Some moms who have inverted nipples may have trouble breastfeeding, but a lactation consultant usually can help them overcome this. Likewise, women who have had plastic surgery on their breasts should be able to successfully breastfeed. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Hold off on pacifiers or bottles until your baby has gotten used to and is good at breastfeeding. Lactation professionals recommend waiting until a baby is about 3–4 weeks old before offering artificial nipples of any kind (including pacifiers).

Benefits of Formula Feeding

Commercially prepared infant formula is a nutritious alternative to breast milk. Bottle feeding can offer more freedom and flexibility for moms, and make it easier to know how much the baby is getting.

Because babies digest formula more slowly than breast milk, a baby who is getting formula may need fewer feedings than one who breastfeeds. Formula feeding also can make it easier to feed the baby in public, and lets the father and other family members help feed the baby, which can enhance bonding.

Limitations of Formula Feeding

Just as breastfeeding has its unique demands, so does bottle feeding. Bottle feeding takes organization and preparation, especially if you want to take your baby out. Store-bought formula can be pretty expensive, but do not try to make your own formula at home.

It's important to make sure that you have enough formula on hand, and bottles that are clean and ready to be used.

Here are a few guidelines for formula feeding:

  • Carefully follow directions on the label when preparing formula. Do not add more water than directed.
  • Bottles left out of the refrigerator longer than 1 hour and any formula left in the bottle that a baby doesn't finish should be discarded.
  • Prepared bottles of formula can be stored in the refrigerator up to 24 hours and carefully warmed just before feeding. You don't have to warm formula, but most babies prefer it.
  • A bottle of formula can be warmed by holding it in running warm water or setting it in a pan of warm water. A bottle of formula (or breast milk) should never be warmed in a microwave. The bottle can heat unevenly and leave "hot spots" that can burn a baby's mouth.

How Often Do Newborns Eat?

Your newborn will nurse about 8 to 12 times per day during the first weeks of life. In the beginning, mothers may want to try nursing 10–15 minutes on each breast, then adjust the time as needed.

Breastfeeding should be on demand (when your baby is hungry), which is generally every 1–3 hours. As newborns get older, they'll nurse less often and have longer stretches between feedings. Newborn babies who are getting formula will likely take about 2–3 ounces every 2–4 hours. Newborns should not go more than about 4–5 hours without feeding.

Signs that babies are hungry include:

  • moving their heads from side to side
  • opening their mouths
  • sticking out their tongues
  • placing their hands and fists to their mouths
  • puckering their lips as if to suck
  • nuzzling against their mothers' breasts
  • crying

A feeding schedule is not necessary — you and your baby will get into a routine. Babies know (and will let their parents know) when they're hungry and when they've had enough. Watch for signs that your baby is full (slowing down, spitting out the bottle or unlatching from breast, closing the mouth, turning away from the breast or bottle) and stop the feeding when these signs appear.

As babies grow, they begin to eat more at each feeding and can go longer between feedings. There may be other times when your infant seems hungrier than usual. Continue to nurse or feed on demand. Nursing mothers need not worry — breastfeeding stimulates milk production, and your supply of breast milk will adjust to your baby's demand for it.

Is My Newborn Getting Enough to Eat?

New parents often worry about whether their babies are getting enough to eat.

Babies are getting enough to eat if they:

  • seem satisfied
  • have about 6–8 wet diapers a day
  • have regular bowel movements (poops)
  • sleep well
  • are alert when awake
  • are gaining weight

A baby who is fussing, crying, seems hungry, does not appear satisfied after feeding, and has fewer wet diapers may not be getting enough to eat. If you're concerned that your baby isn't getting enough to eat, call your doctor.

Most infants "spit up" a small amount after eating or during burping, but a baby should not vomit after feeding. Vomiting after every feeding might be a sign of an allergy, digestive problem, or other problem that needs medical care. If you have concerns that your baby is spitting up too much, call your doctor.

Should Newborns Get Nutritional Supplements?

Breast milk has the right combination of vitamins and easily absorbed iron for newborns. A healthy infant being nursed by a healthy mother doesn't need extra vitamins or nutritional supplements, with the exception of vitamin D. Breastfed babies should begin vitamin D supplements within the first few days of life, continuing until they get enough vitamin D-fortified formula or milk (after 1 year of age).

Breastfeeding mothers who follow vegetarian diets that do not include animal products need vitamin B12 supplements.

Iron-fortified formula has the right blend of vitamins and minerals for a baby, so supplements usually aren't needed. Infants drinking less than 1 liter, or about a quart, of formula a day may need a vitamin D supplement.

Water, juice, and other foods usually aren't necessary during a baby's first 6 months. Breast milk and formula provide everything babies need nutritionally until they start eating solid foods. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about feeding your newborn.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

Date reviewed: February 2021

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.

90,000 how to understand that it is time to feed the child

Prospect CT USA

OAK Park IL USA 9000 from the New BEGININGS, Vol. 20 no. 4, July-August 2003, p. 126

Translation by Irina Slukina
Editing of the translation by Natalia Gerbeda-Wilson
Proofreaders Dina Sabitova and Aliya Vasilchenko

The feeding routine, like the kissing routine, will complicate life for you and your baby.
“The Art of Breastfeeding” (2010)

“How often should I feed my baby?” Almost all young parents puzzle over this question in the first days of a baby's life. They have not yet learned to distinguish the nuances of his behavior and doubt their ability to care for him. Depending on who they turn to for advice or what book they look for information in, new moms and dads get different answers to this seemingly simple question.

Some sources advise feeding at fixed hours, such as stating that children should eat every four hours. Feeding by the hour promises parents predictability. They feel confident because they are following recommendations from trusted sources. “We don’t have much experience with children and it’s important for us to do everything right,” one father explained the reason why his wife was breastfeeding a child on a schedule.

Other books recommend "feeding on demand", "feeding on demand", or "feeding in response to signs of readiness to suckle". (editor's note. Feeding on demand - why so many terms?) Supporters of feeding on demand believe that a child should be fed when he is hungry. This means that the mother must learn to recognize the special behavior of the baby when he wants to suckle. The child, as it were, sends signals to the mother that he already wants to suckle the breast - the baby’s eyelids tremble in a dream, you can notice the rapid movement of the eyeballs under the eyelids, then the baby begins to toss and turn, fidget, he looks for the breast, starts to squeak, and if he is not fed starts crying loudly. For some, recognizing signs of readiness to suckle is easier, for some it is more difficult. This ability depends on previous experience with children, self-confidence and how clearly the child can show by his behavior that he wants to suckle, and how vividly he responds to the actions of the mother. Some parents will need from several days to several weeks before they learn to understand the behavior and needs of their child.

Which approach to feeding is best? Which approach is best for breastfeeding? Why do parents choose one way or the other? Parents' actions depend on culture, individual preferences and values. If you break away from the influence of culture and look at the process of breastfeeding, the biology of a woman and a child, it turns out that abstract feeding very often does not work: children cry, women are nervous, and milk runs out.

Biological facts

In industrialized cultures, adults often have no idea how children actually behave, although everyone has illusory ideas about how children should behave. Adults do not realize that a child comes into this world with the same biological needs for food, protection, affection and attention as children thousands of years ago, throughout human history. Humanity has survived and thrived because mothers have met the needs of their children, responding to their signals and behaviors, in particular, signs of readiness to suckle.

Breastfeeding is normal for mother and child. It has been scientifically proven that bottle feeding with formula will not replace the emotional and physiological process of breastfeeding, and no artificial milk formula will replace the nutrients and immune factors of breast milk that protect the baby from disease. Scientific studies of successful breastfeeding have shown that, from the point of view of biology, both mothers and children are suitable for feeding not according to the regimen, but taking into account the behavior of the child.

The capacity of a baby's stomach is small and breast milk is digested quickly. By themselves, these two physiological facts confirm that the newborn will be calmer if he suckles frequently, and not only every three or four hours according to the regimen. In the first two or three days after birth, the mother produces a small amount of colostrum, an easily digestible, protein-rich fluid that contains immune bodies and prepares the baby's digestive system for more food. Another biological fact has appeared in our body of evidence, which confirms that newborns need to suckle often and suck out small portions of milk. And, of course, it is not at all accidental that frequent attachments to the breast guarantee the baby enough affection, the feeling that he has not been abandoned, i.e. a sense of security, tactile contact and communication with mom.

But that's not all. Frequent feedings in the first days of life help the newborn learn to suck on relatively soft breasts, so that later, when there is more milk, the baby can confidently take the breast. For a mother, frequent feeding in the first days after childbirth means a sufficient and stable amount of milk in the following months. And importantly, women who hold babies for long periods of time quickly learn to recognize what their babies need.

Studies have shown that healthy full-term infants regulate their milk intake remarkably if they are breastfed when mothers recognize behaviors that indicate a desire to breastfeed. The amount of milk the mother has in such cases exactly matches the needs of the baby. Regardless of the size of the mother's breasts and the weight of the child, a mother who feeds her child in proportion to his appetite has exactly as much milk as the baby needs. Babies suck when they are hungry, then suck more slowly until they stop sucking when they are full. Some babies suckle little and often, others suck longer and less often. In both cases, you can be sure that a healthy baby will regulate how much milk he sucks, and, therefore, adjust the mother's milk production so that he always has enough.

Recently, a group of Australian scientists conducted a study that clearly showed the relationship between a child's appetite and the amount of milk a mother has. Very often this relationship is described as a supply-demand system. According to these studies, milk is produced in the breast more slowly or faster, depending on how full or empty it is. Full breasts produce milk more slowly, empty breasts faster. This means that when the baby has emptied the breast as much as possible, milk is produced most quickly. If the baby does not suck out all the milk from the breast, there will be less milk. The baby's appetite controls the mother's milk supply. Therefore, if the baby is always breastfed when it wants to suckle, the baby will regulate its own milk production. If the baby is hungry and empties the breast, milk will be produced faster. If the child is full and does not eat for several hours, slow down.

It follows that the question “How often should I feed my baby?” there can be no single answer. Feeding on a strict schedule will disrupt the complex interaction between an infant's suckling and feeding needs and the mother's ability to produce enough milk. For example, if a baby wants to suckle, but he is not given a breast, because the time for feeding has not yet come up according to the regimen, the breast overflows, and milk production slows down. If this happens from time to time, the amount of milk the mother has will not meet the needs of the child. Some proponents of the regimen approach believe that one should wait until the breast is "full" before feeding the baby, and that the baby will not be full if he suckles on a relatively empty breast. However, studies on the rate of milk production leave no doubt that in response to the suckling of a child in an empty breast, milk is produced faster and that such milk is high in fat.

Changes in the fat content of breast milk is another important factor that influences the relationship between a baby's feeling of fullness, the amount of milk the baby sucks, and the amount of milk the mother produces. The amount of fat in breast milk increases as the breasts are emptied. A not-so-hungry baby sucks out a small amount of low-fat milk. A hungry baby sucks out more milk with a high fat content, and the longer he sucks, the fatter the milk. Higher fat milk gives the baby a feeling of satiety at the end of feeding. If an infant is allowed to suckle one breast for only a few minutes and then the breast is voluntarily changed, he suckles only a full breast in both cases, which means that he fills his stomach with a lot of low-fat milk and does not receive the “cream” that would make him feel full and satisfied.

American editor's note. Please note that this article is about healthy babies who suckle and empty their breasts well, suckle enough milk and gain weight well. Babies who suckle poorly and do not empty their breasts may not always be able to set the pace of milk production and suck out enough milk for growth and development. If the newborn sleeps too much, he should be awakened and breastfed more often.

Scientists have also determined that the fat content of mother's milk decreases as the time between feedings increases. In other words, the more frequent feedings, the higher the fat content of milk. An infant who is breastfed 30 to 40 minutes after he has emptied his breast will suck out more fatty milk than if he were breastfed two to three hours before.

American editor's note. Do not rush to come up with new rules for breastfeeding based on this article. No need to think about which breasts are full and which are empty, how much milk is in the breast or how much fat is in the milk. Look at the baby, give him the breast when he shows his behavior that he wants to suckle, and everything will be all right.

Babies change their personal “mode” of suckling depending on various circumstances: whether they are hungry, or hot and thirsty, or upset and need to be pitied. There are times when babies grow very fastmonths), which means they suckle very often and thus increase the amount of mother's milk to meet the increasing needs for further growth (there was enough milk and even more!). When children eat more and more adult food, complementary foods, they breastfeed less often, and there is less milk. A well-oiled system works great because of natural behavior: the mother adapts to the child, and the child adapts to the mother. A strict feeding regime breaks this harmonious system. Nature has made it so that babies decide when to breastfeed.

Cultural reasons

Understanding a child's behavior requires effort and time to acquire new skills. It's much easier to look at your watch or listen to an "authoritative opinion" about when and how often to feed your baby. If parents aren't sure they can figure out when a baby is "telling" them that it's time to breastfeed, they may find it easier to feed on a schedule. Some parents believe that feeding according to the regimen is good for the child - they themselves live according to a clear schedule and rely on the children's regimen to guarantee them the stable and predictable life they are so used to. There is also an opinion that the regime imposed by parents will help raise an obedient child.

Young parents often rely on the opinions of other people (grandmothers, doctors, “authoritative books”, friends) about how to properly care for a child. When an authoritative person in the eyes of a mother claims that if the feeding regimen is followed, the baby will sleep better and sleep longer and that she will “accumulate” milk for feeding, the woman is most likely to try to feed by the hour..

However, the reasons why parents Deciding to feed according to a schedule may go deeper than just personal preference. If the culture of parents is in control of children's behavior, parents are more likely to feed at fixed hours. If it is not customary in society to pay attention to the needs of the child, parents will be condemned if they respond to every change in the behavior of the child. long intervals between feedings) may become the norm, and parents of an infant will try to extend the time between feedings and avoid frequent attachment to the breast. Young parents are more likely to conform to cultural dictates than to listen to their own parental instinct.

Difficulties of feeding by the hour

Feeding infants according to a strict schedule and limiting the duration of suckling often does not go unnoticed either for parents or for the child. Most babies cry and demand to eat “too fast” and off schedule. But you can get a “good” baby who can handle hourly feedings, but as a result, such a baby may not gain weight well. When parents look at the clock, deciding it's time for a baby to breastfeed, and don't consider the baby's desire to suckle, the baby's growth and the mother's milk supply are at risk. If the baby is not gaining weight well, this can be mistakenly attributed to the mother's "non-dairy" ability to produce enough milk. And if you know that there may be little milk due to the fact that a woman simply rarely feeds, the imaginary “non-dairy” can be easily corrected by frequent applications. But if you believe in congenital, family, genetic “non-milkness”, which is so often unreasonably attributed to women who feed by the hour, then it is easy to agree that it is no longer in our power to correct the trouble. In this case, women often give up and stop feeding so as not to starve the child.

Most babies are very indignant and protest if they are not fed enough and they are hungry. If parents persist and feed the child at regular intervals, the baby will rarely be calm, satisfied and satisfied with life. When a child desperately demands (simply cries loudly) that the parents meet his normal and healthy needs, the parents become nervous and do not know what to do. The confrontation between a parent who tries to fit a child's needs into an abstract schedule and a child who struggles to get everything they need to survive, grow, and develop exhausts both parents and children. In a senseless struggle, the emotional and physical state of the child suffers, the trusting relationship between the parent and the baby is undermined.

Parents of a baby who is always dissatisfied between feedings involuntarily begin to think that he is unbearable, “difficult” or even unhealthy, spoiled and spoiled. People around are sure that parents are slow and negligent, because they cannot cope with their child. In this situation, parents are no longer able to trust their own feelings, whether they react correctly to the child's behavior. The natural, instinctive reaction is to do everything possible to calm their beloved helpless child. Most often, one has only to take the child in his arms and give him the breast, as he calms down. But what kind of mother would risk taking the child in her arms once again if she was frightened that such “connivance” in upbringing would spoil the child for life?!

A similar conflict between what most parents want and try to do for the peace and happiness of the baby, and what “authoritative” advisers are trying to convince them of, leads to a situation where parents do not believe in themselves and artificially suppress the natural reaction to restless baby behavior. The inner feeling of insecurity of parents leads to stiffness in communication with the child, and children immediately feel it. Parents not only do not trust their feelings, but also to some extent deny the child's ability to express their experiences and feelings. And since children learn the world through the prism of an adult, the baby may lose confidence in himself.

Be sensitive to baby's behavior - that's how it should be

When a mother understands a newborn's behavior and notices the signs of readiness to suckle (see table on page 129 [below]), she easily anticipates all of his basic biological needs. For a mother who responds quickly and consistently to a change in her child's behavior, the baby does not need to cry to be noticed. As a result, the child trusts the world around and grows up healthy, calm and complacent. The calmer the baby, the more confident the parents, because they manage to live in peace and harmony with the child. When the baby does not cry, parents are pleased to be with him.

How can a mother learn to tell when to breastfeed and when to do something else? For simplicity, consider: if a child needs something, he needs a mother and a breast. Sometimes babies need breasts because they're hungry, sometimes because they're restless, and sometimes because they want to socialize. Breastfeeding satisfies all these needs of the child, so new parents do not need to try to determine what exactly the child needs at this moment. Over time, parents will learn to discern the nuances of a child's behavior. With experience comes an understanding of how a child behaves when hungry, bored, overexcited or tired; when to offer the breast and when to find another way to soothe the baby.

Observing your baby's behavior and recognizing signs of readiness to suckle pays off even with a grown baby. Parents who recognize that their child is an individual with unique, meaningful needs will continue to respect those needs well into the future. They will be able to understand the changing needs of the child and will be confident that they will be able to cope with each new age and stage of development of the child, they will enjoy a rich and multifaceted relationship with their baby.

Trusting your child and yourself is an important skill that is learned from the first minutes of parenthood. If a mother notices that a child wants to suckle and gives him a breast, she lays the foundation for dialogue, two-way communication with the child for the rest of her life. And the ability to listen occupies the most important place in communication.

Signs of readiness to suckle in a newborn
  • The child has noticeable rapid eye movement under the eyelids and trembling of the closed eyelids.
  • The child's muscles tense, for example, he clenched his fists and flexed his arms at the elbows.
  • The child rolls and turns and arches his back.
  • The baby makes various sounds (very often these sounds are mistaken for “just talking”, although the baby definitely “reports” that he wants to suck).
  • The child draws his hands to his mouth (even if his eyes are closed, he can suck his own hand).
  • If the baby's hand is close to the face, he will turn towards the hand, poking, opening his mouth, or even trying to suck on the hand or any object that is near the mouth.

American editor's note: Crying is a late sign of readiness to suckle, which usually indicates that the parents failed to notice in time that it was time for the baby to breastfeed. When the baby has already burst into tears, it will be difficult to attach to the breast.
Parents learn to identify signs of breastfeeding readiness in their baby through trial and error. Look at your child! No need to rely on general lists (including the one above).

Additional information

  • Babies grow very fast. Breastfed babies typically double their weight by four to six months and triple by one year. No wonder your baby needs to breastfeed often!
  • At birth, a baby's brain is 25 percent the size of an adult's brain. The human baby matures outside the womb, and its survival is completely dependent on the adults. If the baby is taken away from the mother (or from the one who cares for him), he instantly protests and thereby guarantees himself the necessary care and protection. Frequent cuddling satisfies the baby's need for close contact and helps the baby stay in a good mood.
  • Feeding by the clock loses to latching in response to a baby's behavior that indicates that the baby wants to suckle. A child who is fed by the hour gains weight worse, does not receive the necessary amount of milk for growth and development, suffers from an increased level of bilirubin in the blood, and is more often supplemented with formula. Infrequent breastfeeding leads to engorgement of the mammary glands, increases the likelihood of cracked nipples, as well as the resumption of the menstrual cycle and ovulation, and therefore a faster onset of the next pregnancy.
  • Want to know more? Take a look at the "Feeding frequency" section

American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk (RE9729). Pediatrics 1997 Dec; 100(6):1035-1039.
Biancuzzo, M. Breastfeeding the Newborn, Clinical Strategies of Nurses. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, 2003.
Cregan, M. and Hartmann, E. Computerized breast measurement from conception to weaning: Clinical implications. J Hum Lact 1999; 15(2):89-96.
Daly, S.E. and Hartmann, P. Infant demand and milk supply. Part 1: Infant demand and milk production in lactating women. J Hum Lact 1995; 11(1):21-26.
Daly, S.E. and Hartmann, P. Infant demand and milk supply. Part 2: The short-term control of milk synthesis in lactating women. J Hum Lact 1995; 11(1):27-37.
Mohrbacher, N. and Stock, J. The Breastfeeding Answer Book. Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International, 2003.
La La Leche League International. Common Breastfeeding Myths. Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International, l998.
Marasco, L. and Barger, J. Cue feeding: Wisdom and science. Breastfeeding Abstracts 1999; 18(4):27-28.
McKenna, J. Natural History of Breast Feeding: An Evolutionary and Developmental Perspective. SUNY@Stonybrook School of Nursing Breastfeeding Conference, May 11, 2001.
Woolridge, M. Baby controlled breastfeeding: Biocultural implications. In Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives. New York: De Gruyter, 1995.

A gift to all Russian mothers is a translation of a memo on the signs of readiness to suckle from the latest edition of the legendary book “Women's Art. Breastfeeding” (2010). Download and print

Readiness to suckle behavior

  • At first, the baby makes a subtle sign that he wants to suckle. The eyes move quickly under the eyelids, the eyelids tremble before the child opens them. The kid brings his hands to his face, opens his mouth.
  • Then there are more obvious signs - the baby is looking for the breast, whimpering and squeaking.
  • If you notice this behavior at this stage, the baby will latch on gently and easily.
  • As the baby grows hungry or upset, his whole body and mouth tense up. He starts breathing faster or crying.
  • When the baby has already started crying, it is more difficult for him to take the breast. Crying - late a sign of hunger or that the child wants to suckle. Reassure your baby before breastfeeding.
  • The baby is easy to breastfeed when he "asks" for the breast, and much more difficult when he "demands" it.
  • Don't wait for milk to accumulate in your breasts. If the breast is full, milk production in it has already slowed down.
  • Even if the baby does not ask, you can let him suckle at the breast at any time convenient for you.

When it's time to stop breastfeeding :: City Polyclinic № 12

There are a lot of opinions on this matter: the time when it's time to wean a child from the breast varies from several months to infinity from the point of view of self-weaning supporters. But this issue has always been considered from the point of view of benefit to the baby. And what does medicine say about what terms of involution will be useful not for a child, but for a woman?

What is lactation involution?

Lactation involution (from Latin involutio - coagulation) is a physiological process that completes the period of breastfeeding. This biological mechanism starts on the 40th day from the moment the baby was last attached to the breast. Since the onset of involution, the mammary glands decrease in size and stop producing breast milk. Usually, the process of involution is recommended to be carried out gradually so that the child can adapt to a new way of getting food, and also learn to calm down without being attached to the mother's breast.

Under normal conditions, each mammary gland will continue to lactate as long as milk is removed from it - and this phenomenon, the same for animals and humans, is used in agriculture. As the volume of milk production decreases, its composition changes: the content of fat, immunoglobulins increases, and the level of lactose decreases. If lactation is not stopped forcibly, it can continue until the baby is weaned from the breast; under natural conditions, this usually occurs in 2 - 2.5 years.

The process starts when the pituitary gland stops producing enough of the hormone prolactin. Milk production continues for some time after the cessation of its suction. As they write in the materials of the WHO, “if in most mammals “drying” occurs on the 5th day after the last feeding, then the period of involution in women lasts an average of 40 days. During this period, it is relatively easy to restore full lactation if the child resumes frequent sucking.

Thus, as soon as attachments to the breast become rare and short, the process of involution begins. This can happen at any time - it is known that sometimes children themselves refuse breastfeeding for a variety of reasons that need to be discussed separately. There is an inhibition of protein synthesis and structural changes in the mammary gland - the reverse replacement of the glandular tissue with adipose tissue begins, which allows the breasts to return to their previous size and shape.

Signs of lactation involution

If involution occurs naturally, it usually begins when the child is two years old. At this time, the frequency of attachment naturally decreases: the child has other interests, including interest in "adult" food. How can a nursing mother understand that involution has begun?

The breasts shrink slightly and do not fill with milk even if you do not feed for more than 12-24 hours. That is why if at this time the child stops breastfeeding, this does not cause any frustration and suffering from excess milk in the mother. Milk, in terms of composition, properties and appearance, is increasingly reminiscent of colostrum.

The baby's sucking activity is markedly increased. This is due to the fact that milk production is reduced, and the child is still trying to suck out the same amount of portion. A child for one feeding can be applied to one breast, then to the other - and so on several times. The period of such sucking activity can last up to several months.

Mother's psychological readiness for weaning. This is a very important sign that should not be ignored. As soon as a nursing mother is tired of breastfeeding, this is a sign that the process is either incorrectly regulated, or, if there have been no problems with lactation so far, it is coming to an end.

Psychological readiness of the child for weaning. Usually, by the age of two, the child is socialized, ceases to experience an urgent need for tactile contact with the mother, and begins to receive the necessary nutrients from other sources. The psychological need for the child gradually disappears

Forced involution

If there is a need to wean the child prematurely, then you need to be prepared for the following consequences:

  • pain and discomfort in the mammary glands of varying intensity;
  • formation of seals in the area of ​​the mammary glands;
  • fever;
  • deterioration in general condition;
  • purulent-inflammatory complications (breast abscess and mastitis).

If the need to interrupt lactation is associated with medical indications, then it is necessary to carry out involution under the supervision of a physician. What needs to be done first? Reduce the number of feedings by offering the baby a different food source. In addition, strict control of fluid intake with its restriction is necessary, and additional pumping may be required in order to avoid stagnation of milk.

If you are tired of breastfeeding

The psychological state of a breastfeeding mother is a very important criterion that must be paid close attention to. Lactation is a very energy- and resource-intensive project for the female body, and it is not surprising that exhaustion sets in sooner or later. Some nursing mothers can wait for natural involution without any problems, but for many there comes a point when, due to fatigue, continuing to feed is impossible. Unfortunately, this objective situation (the amount of forces and resources is strictly individual) often causes a feeling of guilt in a nursing mother, since the advertising of the need for breastfeeding before self-weaning has reached its maximum in recent years. What needs to be assessed at this moment? On one side of the scale, there is a benefit for the child, and on the other, the psychological and physical comfort of the mother.

Many will choose the comfort of their mother in such a situation, and they will be right. How long breastfeeding will continue is up to her to decide, since only she can assess the degree of her exhaustion. After all, there are now excellent breast milk substitutes, and a calm and rested mother is an irreplaceable resource that cannot be replaced by anything.

Many experts say that breastfeeding up to a year and a half may be optimal. Thus, the well-known pediatrician Dr. Komarovsky recommends starting breastfeeding correction starting at the age of one: at this age it is already time to introduce calming rituals that replace breastfeeding, and also gradually reduce the number of daily feedings. WHO recommendations to breastfeed children for more than two years, according to Komarovsky, are due to high infant mortality rates in Asia and Africa, where a child's life often directly depends on how long his mother breastfeeds.

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