Parent Time

Finding the Right Feeding Schedule and Routine for Your Baby Whether You Bottle or Breastfeed ...

A new parent worries about getting the right baby feeding schedule and often looks for a guide. Many new parents have questions about how often they should be feeding their babies, and they encounter conflicting advice and information. Feed your baby whenever he or she is hungry. Babies need frequent feedings: most guidelines say a newborn needs food about every two to three hours at first, 24 hours a day.

Keeping baby in your room when night feeding

It's wise to take a tip from experts who say it's better to keep the baby in your room. The biggest problem with breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby may be the effect that 'round the clock nursing has on your own sleeping schedule. Night feeding can be less disruptive if you move the baby in with you, either placing the crib beside your bed or bringing the baby into your bed. Then when the baby wakes up hungry, you can nurse without even having to be fully awake yourself.

How often will my baby get hungry and should I follow the pediatrician's feeding plan?

Your baby feeding schedule will probably be regulated by your baby. Most healthy, full term babies wake up hungry every couple of hours, so you probably won't have to keep a chart. If your baby has health problems or if your milk supply is a little low, you may have to schedule feedings to keep your baby healthy and to ensure your body is stimulated to create milk. If you feed your child on a regular schedule at first, you may find your milk production becoming more reliable.

Some infants feed more frequently at certain times of the day or night, and go for longer periods without feeding at other times. In cluster feeding, the baby eats in small amounts but more frequently than usual. Your baby's first year is a series of developmental stages: a new born may eat according to your pediatrician's feeding chart, but within a couple of months, you may need to change your feeding plan to meet your child's needs. The amount your child eats should be up to him or her. Feed your baby as much as he or she wants to eat at one time: shortening feedings can leave your child hungry.

What's different about how a premature baby learns to eat?

Mothers of premature babies or newborns who aren't instinctively eating 8-12 times per day may find that they need to keep track of feeding to make sure the baby gains weight. Signs of hunger include rooting, sucking on fingers or hands, and crying. If your preemie prefers sleeping to eating, you may need to wake your baby during the night for feedings. Keeping the baby in your room is one way to simplify feedings: an alarm clock with a gentle chime is another way to wake for feedings without becoming fully awake each time. One of the greatest stresses new moms and dads suffer is the stress of not having a complete night's sleep for months at a time: do whatever you can to minimize that problem.

What changes can you expect from your baby's feeding schedule?

As your baby's stomach grows, your baby feeding schedule will become normalize and time between feedings will increase. It's possible to night wean your child around nine months of age (some experts recommend one year, but it depends on how badly you need to sleep). Night weaning will be effective if your baby is developmentally ready for it: otherwise, you can do everything right and you'll still be waking up with a hungry child. But you can try feeding more frequently in the hours leading up to bedtime and through the day, putting in one last feeding just before you go to bed yourself, and increasing the quality of daytime feedings. Research has shown that babies will eat up to 25% more at a feeding if they aren't distracted by things going on around them. Nurse your baby in a quiet room where there's nothing else happening.

Continue reading more baby tips about Breast Feeding Diets

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