by Aarti K Singh
How often to feed your newborn baby. All that you need to know about his/her feeding schedule
As with various ways of bringing up baby, feeding is another crucial aspect that worries mothers and also a reason why mothers are nagged by those around them for either feeding too much or not feeding enough. Take this as a basic rule of thumb by various moms – feeding by schedule is beneficial to moms who need the convenience, routine and planning this provides. Also, feeding on demand is more beneficial to breastfeeding and your baby. It’s likely that routine breastfeeding results in more moms quitting due to poor supply issues. Ultimately the decision is up to you. If either method is working for you, your baby and your family then stick with it Mommy! But there is still the nagging question – how often should I feed my newborn baby?
As a rule of thumb, breastfeed your baby as often as she wants. In the early days and weeks, your baby will wake and feed frequently, day and night. When your baby is newborn, her stomach is tiny. She is only physically able to take in small amounts of milk. She digests your breast milk easily and soon absorbs it into her system. That’s why she wants to feed often. After the first few days, most young babies feed at least eight to 10 times in 24 hours. This means your baby could be asking for a feed every 90 minutes to two hours.
It’s worth keeping an eye on the number of feeds she’s had, and offering her your breast, even if she’s not asking. By breastfeeding often, you’re building up your milk supply. The more your baby feeds, the more milk you will produce. This is called responsive feeding. And your baby will love snuggling into you, whether or not she’s not hungry.
Typically, it is common for babies to breastfeed around 8-12 times per day. Some babies will desire less feeds and some babies will want more. The main indicator to how much your own individual baby needs will be the feeding cues they display. A healthy baby will let you know when they want to feed.
By and large, there are two routes that can be followed when you want to figure out how often to feed your newborn baby – a feeding schedule or feeding on demand. The best method will be the one that works well for you, your baby and your family life. But here are the pros and cons of both:
1. Feeding Schedule:
Friends and family have probably told you to get baby onto a feeding schedule as soon as possible. For breastfed babies means feeding every 2-3 hours and never more than 4 hours apart. It helps your baby develop a routine which can fit into family life. While a routine is tempting to the hardcore planner in every busy mom, the problem is that feeding schedules have developed over the few decades when formula feeding was a more popular feeding choice. The need for new-born babies to sleep longer and feed in a pattern is a modern-day need. In fact, it’s harmful to breastfeeding. So it is better to ditch that plan. Your baby’s needs will be different from other babies. That’s why feeding schedules are not great for breastfeeding. They lead to hungry babies and stressed out Mamas.
2. Feeding on Demand:
Breastfeeding offers more benefits when you and baby feed on demand. Feeding on demand, or responsive feeding is a way of closely watching your baby for signs they need to breastfeed. No more watching the clock during a feed or worrying your baby is feeding too often. You need to watch your baby, not the clock. Newborn babies don’t know how to follow routines. They do know how to instinctively give you cues to what they need when they are hungry or full, need to be comforted or are sleepy. But feeding on demand is about so much more than keeping your baby from being hungry. Your breast milk is made on a supply/demand basis. That means the more your baby eats the more milk you’ll make. Feeding on demand allows a baby to learn the difference between feeling hungry and full. This means your baby will trust their body’s judgment on calorie intake. Starting from an early age helps your baby to strengthen this ability. There is another benefit of demand feeding – it helps you learn your baby’s cues and hints. With demand feeding, you learn to recognize these cues in your baby. That way their needs are met early, and you aren’t frazzled from a baby who is screaming for hours on end. Breastfeeding is about so much more than eating. It involves lots of hormones that promote bonding with your baby. With the power of touch, and skin to skin with your baby only strengthens this bond. Breastfeeding is a great way to comfort your baby when they are upset. This means it’s much easier to calm and stop them crying as much. The response you have to your babies needs also lets you baby develop early communication skills. It’s the building blocks to teaching them how to interact with other people.
Feeding vs Latching
Do check that your baby is latched on well. Otherwise, she may be nipple-feeding, rather than breastfeeding. This can make your nipples sore, and your baby may be unsettled, because she can’t get a good drink of milk. Your baby needs to open wide and take a good mouthful of your breast. Once she’s latched on, her chin should be touching your breast, and her nose should be clear.
How long to feed for?
Usually, a feed will last anything from 5-to-40 minutes. It depends if your baby is thirsty (short feed) or hungry (longer feeds). Just like adults, some babies take longer to eat than others. Rather than timing feeds, make sure your baby is having a mixture of both short and long feeds. This gives a good indication of a healthy milk intake. If your baby is settled and relaxed after a feed it’s a sign they are full.
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