Feeding on demand, or keeping a routine?
You may wonder when is the best time is to breastfeed your baby. Should I feed my newborn whenever he is hungry, or should I breastfeed him on a schedule and establish a routine? It all comes down to the age of the baby. At an early age the baby of few weeks won’t have the same needs than a baby of few months. Let’s see the different ages of a newborn where he needs a breastfeeding routine or a breast feeding at demand.
In the first year of his life, your baby has very high calories needs in proportion to his little body. Newborn increase their weight up to 200% in the first year and quadruple their weight by 2 years old. This is why breastfeeding is very important step in your child development.
At a very early stage of your baby’s life, the best option is to feed him at demand. The need to growth and development is crucial during that period, and breastfeeding is the best answer for that. He will need to eat at minimum 8 times a day for 10 minutes to one-hour feed. Breastfeeding at demand also is beneficial for the mom milk. The milk production works in pair with the frequent feeding at demand from the baby.
Of course, not every woman has the same breasts and milk production. If you feel that you’re not ready to feed the baby, wait until you feel the sensation to release the milk. If you might encounter lactation problem if your baby is really needs a lot of milk.
At around 3-4 months old, you may expect some differences in your newborn behaviour and needs. He might want to wait a little longer between feedings (for several hours), have shorter suckling or will be more satisfied from one feeding. This will indicate you how to create a pattern and routine. As he grows and becomes bigger, he will sometime be hungrier one day and less the other day. But do not let it encourage you to establish a routine at this age. At 3-month years old, a baby stills needs all the milk he can get to grow. For the first 6 months of your newborn, it will be a good idea that you follow his cues and follow his hunger. Sense his natural schedule and do not over or under do it. In sum :
Always breastfeed where your baby is hungry
Let him suckle as long as he wants
Only around after 6 months years old, should you consider building a routine.
For example the routine of a baby of this age should consist of 32 ounces of breastmilk or formula during the day, with 14 hours of sleep a day, including both naps and night-time sleep. Have your baby take one nap in the morning and one nap in the afternoon . Also you may start including solid food at this age.
Don't forget to include playtime such as tummy time in your routine, to have your baby stimulate the important muscles to learn the basic life skills, such as crawling, sitting, walking.
Written by Mathilde Allemand