Eat, sleep, take a dump, repeat — this is usually how a day in the life of a newborn goes. If you are a first-time parent, you will most likely have many questions and concerns about the eating process. How much milk should my infant consume? At what time should my baby eat? How often should I be feeding my baby? These are the kinds of questions that many new parents ask when it comes to their newborn’s feeding schedule.
If you do not have much idea on how your baby’s feeding schedule should look like, and you wish to learn from an expert, consider hiring a daytime confinement nanny who will not only help you recover from childbirth faster but will also guide you through the ins and outs of childcare. Here are some crucial things to know about your newborn’s feeding time to help you get started.
How often should a newborn eat?
Every baby is unique. As such, how often a baby should eat in one day depends mainly on their individual needs. Nonetheless, despite having differing needs, there is one fact that seems consistent among many infants — breastfed infants eat more frequently than bottle-fed infants. This is primarily because breast milk is easier to digest and empties the stomach much faster than formula.
Here is the recommended number of times your baby should eat depending on whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed:
1. Breastfed Infants
According to experts, new mums should start nursing their baby within 1 hour of birth and provide them with around 8 to 12 feedings every day in the first couple of weeks of their life. It’s crucial not to let your newborn go more than 4 hours without eating. You will likely need to wake up your infant if needed, at least until their feeding schedule has been well-established and they begin to gain weight.
As your infant grows and your milk supply increases, they shall be able to consume more milk in less time at a single feeding. This is when you may start noticing a more predictable feeding pattern. Here is an example of a pattern you might notice in your baby’s feeding schedule:
- 1 to 3 months: Your infant will eat at least 7 to 9 months per day.
- 3 months: Your infant will feed 6 to 8 times per day.
- 6 months: Your infant will eat about 6 times per day. You can introduce solids to your baby’s diet during this period.
- 1 year old: The frequency of your infant’s feedings may drop to around 4 times per day.
2. Bottle-fed Infants
Breastfed and bottle-fed infants are similar in that they must both eat on demand. For bottle-fed babies, this usually means that their feeding should be done about every 2 to 3 hours on average. A bottle-fed infant’s regular feeding schedule may look like this:
- Newborn: Your infant should eat every 2 to 3 hours.
- 2 months: Your infant should feed every 3 to 4 hours.
- 4 to 6 months: Your infant should eat less frequently, at least every 4 to 5 hours.
- More than 6 months: Your baby may still feed every 4 to 5 hours, but they should already consume additional nutrients by introducing solid foods to them.
How to come up with a feeding schedule?
Schedules are essential for all parents, both first-timers and experienced ones. As your infant grows and their ability to consume milk or formula in one sitting improves, they will naturally begin to fall into a feeding pattern. Developing a feeding pattern usually occurs between their 2nd to 4th month. Recognising this pattern is important, as it will help you develop a feeding schedule that suits your baby’s needs.
In the meantime, while your newborn has not yet developed a feeding pattern, you should focus on understanding your infant’s hunger cues, such as rooting at your breast to look for a nipple, licking or smacking their lips, placing their fist in their mouth, and fussing or crying. Once your infant is a couple of months old, you may already be able to establish a sleep and feed schedule that works for them.
When and how often a newborn should be fed are two of the most common questions many new parents ask. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to babies’ feeding schedules. Because every infant is unique, their feeding pattern may differ according to their needs. Nonetheless, the good news is that most infants are good judges of when they’re hungry or full, and they will certainly let you know it. Most of the time, you only need to pay attention to their cues.
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