Does My Baby Actually Need a Feeding Schedule?
This is one area where the answer may surprise you.
Your baby grows more in their first year than at any other point in their life. Ensuring they get enough nutrition is top of mind and essential for their health. But, hey, we know worrying comes with the territory, especially if you’re a new parent. And while we, as parents, may feel better when we’ve established a routine, there is much to consider when it comes to creating a feeding routine.
As with most things in your little one’s life, there are no one-size-fits-all answers as to how much and how frequently you should feed them. As long as you try and feed them every few hours, their preferences will reveal themselves as you both get to know one another better. So, rather than diligently taking notes on how to master your newborn’s feeding schedule, read on for better ways to understand and predict your baby’s feeding patterns so that you can both benefit from mealtime.
Mommy Pro Tip: During their first six months, it’s recommended that infants only consume either breast milk or formula, as they contain all the necessary nutrients your baby needs. After that, you can start introducing solid food—doing so any earlier can result in an overweight infanthood and childhood.
There are, of course, some general baby feeding guidelines around baby feeding schedules and feeding patterns to keep in mind. Ahead, learn approximately how often babies eat (and poop), and how to get both breastfed and bottle-fed babies into a somewhat regular routine. Hint: It’s not as cut and dry as you might think.
How Often Do Babies Eat?
While every baby is different, in their early days, newborn feeding times should be about every two to three hours, including overnight (sorry!). But don’t worry if your timing isn’t exact. Avoid obsessing over feeding your baby at a prescribed time and, instead, focus on cues that they’re hungry. These can include moving their fists to their mouth, sucking on their hands, smacking their lips, or opening and closing their mouth.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on their diaper. As long as it continues to get wet throughout the day and night, your infant should be getting enough nourishment. Of course, if you’re ever concerned your little one isn’t getting enough to eat, speak with your pediatrician.
During feeding, it’s common for babies to swallow air. Doing so can result in a gassy belly—one reason you should be mindful of burping them during and after meals. If you suspect that your infant has some stubborn gas that won’t resolve through burping alone, reach for Infants’ Mylicon Gas Relief Drops in our dye-free or original formula to help it along. They work quickly to gently break gas bubbles down so your baby can naturally release them by burping or tooting. They’re safe for even the newest of newborns, and can be given at every feeding, up to 12 times a day. The active ingredient won’t get into their system either; it’s not even absorbed.
How Often Do Babies Poop?
We’d be remiss to discuss feeding without touching on your baby’s newfound hobby—pooping. This can vary widely child to child, but, in general, younger babies and those who are breastfed tend to poop more than older and/or bottle fed infants. Newborns and younger babies may also have multiple tiny poops in a row. So, don’t rush to the changing table just yet. Give it a little bit to be sure they’re done doing their business; something like a relaxed expression can be a sign they’re finished. Sometimes your baby is just full of surprises, right?
Some babies are prolific in the pooping game, going strong and often. While others are more prone to go the distance. This means that some infants poop a few times a day and, others, may go as long as every other day between “number twos.” Both are considered normal. Most importantly, things are moving.
How Do I Get My Baby On a Feeding Schedule?
Easy answer: You don’t. And that’s perfectly OK. Our little love bugs train us quickly. Initially, when they’re first born, newborn feeding schedules are on demand, whenever and wherever you may be when they’re hungry.
Thankfully, as time goes on, their feeding patterns become a little more predictable. Still, pay attention to their hunger cues—and know that an exact feeding schedule is not necessarily the answer—but expect that by the time they’re between two and four months old, they’ll likely not need to be fed in the middle of the night (yessss!). This is because they’re sleeping patterns are becoming a bit more regular and they’re eating more during the day. That adorable chubby little belly of theirs is also getting bigger, making it easier for them to go longer between meal times.
In short, put the concept of a feeding schedule on the back burner. Your little one is telling you everything you need to know about when they should eat. Your mission is to make sure that you’re listening so that you don’t have a grumpy, hungry baby on your hands.
When Do Breastfed Babies Get Into a Routine?
Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed your infant, the same truth remains: let them set the tone, not the other way around. In their first few days, your newborn may want to be breastfed every one to three hours. By the time they’re a few weeks and months old, they may only be hungry every two to four hours. Just go with it and do your best to be prepared.
Some breastfed babies may still want to eat every half hour or hour at times, even at a few months old. This is absolutely fine and there’s even a name for it: cluster feeding. It most commonly occurs in the evening, and may be your infant’s way of filling up, so to speak, before bedtime. What a smart little cookie!
Next: Your baby may cry when they’re hungry, tired, or even just bored. Whatever the reason, we know it can be stressful for you both. Learn How To Calm a Crying & Fussy Baby.