As a new mother, you may be wondering if it's better for your newborn to feed on a schedule or on demand. Feeding on demand is almost always recommended. Newborns eat 8-12 times in 24 hours.
- Studies show a baby who has complete access to feeding has a much higher chance of getting the full nutrients he/she needs, compared to a baby whose access is restricted.
- Putting your baby on a strict schedule could make it difficult for him/her to get all of the nutrients necessary for proper growth and development.
- Your baby's caloric needs change constantly (due to growth spurts), and only your baby knows his/her needs and how often they need to be met.
It is best to feed your baby whenever he/she shows signs of hunger or thirst. These signs include:
- Rooting (turning head to one side or the other)
- Sucking on hands or fingers
- Smacking lips
Some babies eat every 1-3 hours, while others eat every hour for 3-5 feedings, then sleep for 3-4 hours. Every baby is different. Breastfeeding works on a supply-and-demand basis; the more your baby eats the more milk your body will produce. It is important to nurse frequently. Your baby should not go more than 5 hours between feedings.
For bottle fed babies, allow your baby to eat until he/she stops. If your baby doesn't drink the whole bottle, that's OK. Your baby's probably telling you he/she's full. Check with your doctor on how much formula your baby should have.
Try and let your baby tell you when he/she is ready to eat. This will allow your baby to get the proper nutrients he/she needs to develop properly.
If you have additional questions about feeding, speak to your doctor or contact UnityPoint Health - Trinity Regional Medical Center lactation educators and consultant at (515) 574-6052.