How Often Should I Feed My Baby: New moms guide

Let’s discuss the right way to set up a feeding schedule for the baby, regardless whether it’s done through breastfeeding or baby milk formula.

Usually, a first time parent worries about setting up a feeding schedule for the newborn, and is often seeking a baby feeding guide. Majority of parents have questions like how often should I feed my baby, and often come across contradictory information and advice.

Bottom line, feed your baby whenever he is hungry. Babies need frequent meals: most specialists agree that a newborn needs to be fed every 2-3 hours in 24 hours of the day at the very beginning (especially during the first few weeks after birth).



Sleep With Your Baby in the Same Room for Smooth Night Feeding

It is in your interest to listen to the expert advice which says it’s best to sleep in the same room with the baby. The biggest challenge for breastfed babies or babies fed with baby milk formula is that for the breastfed babies, the mother adapts easier to the baby’s sleeping schedule during feeding at night. Feeding the baby at night can be less of a disturbance if the baby is already in the same room with the mother, whether it’s by setting up the crib in the same room, or sharing the same bed; once the baby wakes up crying and ‘asking’ to be fed, the mother can breastfeed him without entirely waking up.

How Often Should I Feed My Baby? Do I Need To Follow The Feeding Schedule My Pediatrician Suggested?

Your baby’s feeding schedule will more likely be established by…your baby. Majority of healthy babies born at term, wake up hungry every 2 hours, so it is not likely that the mother will need to keep a schedule to begin with.

If your baby has some health problems, you should seek advice on feeding from a pediatrician. The doctor will use the best pediatric stethoscope to find out if your baby has a problem. If the problem is you, the mother, not producing enough milk, it is possible that you will need to schedule the feeding times in order for the baby to be fed correctly and to stimulate the mother’s milk production. If the baby is getting fed according to a per-arranged schedule, you will soon notice that the mother’s milk production will follow that set schedule.

Some babies need to be fed more frequently during the day or night or can go unfed for a longer period than usual. Breastfed babies eat less (quantity-wise), but more often. The first year of your baby’s life has several stages of development: a newborn may follow the feeding schedule suggested by the pediatrician, but after a few months you may have to adjust according to your baby’s changing feeding routine. The quantity of milk your baby takes in depends only on himself. Feed him as long as he wants, as often as he wants: shortening the feeding time may starve your baby.

Are There Any Differences In The Feeding Schedule Of A Premature Born Baby?

Mothers of premature born babies or newborns who do not feed 8-12 times from own initiative, find themselves in the situation where they need to keep track of the quantity and frequency of the baby’s feeding throughout the day, to ensure the baby is gaining weight. Signs that the baby is hungry are when the baby is searching with his mouth for the mother’s breast or the bottle nipple, the sucking of his fingers or hand, and crying.

If a premature baby prefers to sleep instead of feeding, he should be woken up to be fed, even during night time. Having the baby sleep in the same room as the mother is a convenient way to ease the feeding process: a clock with a quiet alarm set at regular intervals is an easy way to feed the baby without completely waking up.

One of the most worrisome situation a new mother has to face is the stress that she will not have a complete, restful night sleep for months: so do whatever possible to minimize this discomfort.

What Changes Should You Expect in Your Baby’s Feeding Schedule?

As the baby’s stomach grows, the feeding schedule will normalize and the frequency of meals will reduce. It is possible to stop the night time feeding when the baby is around 8-9 months old (some suggest 1 year old, but it all depends on your baby, and of course, how much you want to get back to your normal sleeping routine.

Stopping to feed the baby during the night time should be considered if the baby is prepared from a physical and development point of view; if not, you can go ahead and do everything by the book and wake up during the night to feed your baby. You could also try feeding the baby more frequently some hours before his  sleep, or throughout the day, feeding him one last meal before you hit the bed.

Research and studies have shown that babies will feed up to 25% more during a feeding period in which they are not distracted by anything surrounding them. So your baby should be fed in a quiet room, where nothing can distract him.

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