There are two schools of thought when it comes to feeding a baby. Feed on demand or feeding baby on a schedule. This post will give you tips for feeding baby on a schedule and give you general guidelines by age how many feedings they need.
At birth, the hospital will tell you that your baby needs to eat at least every 3 hours and you may even have to wake your baby to make sure he is getting enough. Keep in mind that breast milk digests faster than formula, so you will need to keep this in mind when you are considering feeding baby on a schedule. If you are a breastfeeding mom, your baby will need to eat every 1 to 3 hours. If you are a formula feeding mom, you will need to feed every 3 hours.
3 to 6 months
Feeding a baby on a schedule at 3 to 6 months can still be challenging because they are starting to roll and move around more, but aren’t eating many solids, if any (the AAP recommends delaying solids until closer to 6 months). Breastfed babies may still be eating every 2 to 3 hours and formula feeding babies can eat every 3 to 4 hours.
7 to 12 months
Once you start solids, it gets a lot easier feeding baby on a schedule. Most breastfed babies can now go longer between feedings and formula fed babies are still eating every 3 to 4 hours only now they are also eating solids with their milk / formula.
Tips for feeding baby on a schedule
• Keep track of feedings and your baby’s schedule, so you can monitor progress and find the best schedule for your baby. You might want to keep a breastfeeding or formula log and consider using our baby care and schedule software for easy tracking and reporting. It makes it easy to see the forest through the trees.
• If your baby is struggling with going long enough between feedings, try stretching your baby slowly by waiting just 15 minutes longer between feedings.
• If you’ve started solids and your baby does not have the patience to try new foods, try offering 1/2 of a bottle or nursing session and then offering the solids and then the rest of the bottle / nursing session.
• If your baby doesn’t have the patience to wait for the second half of the bottle / nursing session as mentioned above, try giving the whole feeding and then offering solids half-way between the two milk / formula feedings.
Sample Feeding and Sleep Schedules
If feeding baby on a schedule is very difficult, try taking a break and try again a few weeks later. Babies change a lot during the first year and it will go fast. Try not to stress too much about it. Some babies thrive on a routine and schedule while others tend to make their own. It will all come together in the end!