Do you need an infant feeding schedule? Well! You’re in the right place.
Many mums wonder how much they should feed their newborn? Are they over-feeding? Or Under-feeding? It’s a big question I’d say! So how do you know your feeding the right amount? Let’s find out.
Infant feeding schedule
Just as your baby grows day by day, his stomach also grows too.
When a baby is born their stomach is the size of a wee marble or blueberry.
How tiny is that!
So imagine how much liquid they can hold in that tiny stomach?
Were talking around 1-3 teaspoons of liquid each time. As your baby grows, so does their stomach. It stretches making bigger space for more food and drink.
Breastfeeding mums – do you have a feeding schedule?
Most breastfeeding mothers don’t have a schedule simply because it’s hard to know how much milk your baby is taking in while breastfeeding.
They kind of feed on demand and that can be anything from 10 minutes to 1 hour or even more. It all depends on how much the baby takes in and how quickly they want their next feed.
Unlike bottle fed babies you can’t measure how much they have drank, hence cannot set a timing for each feed for them.
It’s easier to measure timings and amounts for bottle fed babies. A little difficult for breasted babies unless you express.
This is a great Infant feeding schedule to measure how much your baby is taking in whether their breastfed or bottle fed and at what age.
How to get started – Infant feeding schedule
Schedules are such an organized way of getting your life together – A holy grail for most parents.
As your baby grows, so will their appetite.
You will notice this with the many hunger signs your baby will show you.
A baby goes through many growth spurts in the first 6 weeks of life.
You will notice when they are 1 month , they will start feeding more routinely. By 6 weeks they will get used to their feeding pattern and begin to keep more volumes of milk inside for longer before feeling hungry again.
The signs a baby is hungry for more – Infant feeding schedule
You can learn the signs your baby shows when they are hungry, such as:
- rooting around like a headless chicken – not quiet, but your baby will more likely be looking around for your chest, looking for a nipple, or even into the air waiting for the bottle to go in.
- putting their fist in their mouth – popular sign – hard to miss.
- licking their lips or sticking tongue out.
- fussing around which quickly escalates to crying. Always ensure to feed your baby on demand and not when their super hungry. That can lead to starvation which will make them restless through out their feed session and even after.
Once your baby is above 4 months of age, you can introduce them to a sleep schedule. That way you can feed them before bed allowing them to sleep for longer hours at night and hopefully throughout without being constantly fed.
How often should your baby feed? – Infant feeding schedule
If you breastfeed, your schedule will be CONSTANT. Abit like this one below
Breast milk is easily digestible than formula milk. That’s why you will find breastfed babies consume more milk in more quantities. For some mums it may feel like your baby doesn’t leave your breast!
Here’s an infant feeding schedule of what a breastfed baby’s routine would look like on a daily basis.
A breastfeeding session can last anywhere between 10 minutes – 1 hour.
7:00 AM | Wake and Feed then sleep
9:00 AM | Feed
10:00 AM | Nap
12 PM | Wake and Feed
1:30 PM | Nap
3 PM | Wake and Feed
4:30 PM | Nap
6:00 PM | Wake and Feed
6:30 PM | Nap
7:30 PM | Wake and Feed
9:00 PM | Nap
9:30 PM | Wake and Feed
10:00 PM | Nap
11:30 PM | Feed and bedtime sleep
2:30 AM | Feed and bedtime sleep
5:30 AM | Feed and bedtime sleep
7am | Wake and repeat
Formula bottle fed schedule
Formula milk is more difficult to digest. So, babies tend to feel fuller longer and therefore need slightly fewer feedings.
If you formula feed your baby, you can alter your schedule and measure how much milk your baby is fed. Just like below:
10:00 AM | feed
11:30 AM | Nap
12:30 PM | Feed and Nap
3:00 PM | Feed and Nap
4:30 PM | Wake
6:00 PM | Feed and nap
7:30 PM | wake
8:30 PM | Feed
11:30 PM | Feed and Bedtime
3:30 AM | Feed and Bedtime
7 AM | Wake, feed and repeat
Infant feeding amounts – Breastfed babies
A baby should not go more than 4 hours without feeding.
Even if your baby is fast asleep, ensure to wake them up every 4 hours, atleast in the early weeks of life for a feed.
This will help ensure your baby gains the right amount of weight they need to grow healthy. You can check here what weight your baby should be from birth up till the age of 1.
At first, when breast milk hasn’t established, your baby will take in smaller amounts. However, as your baby grows and your milk supply amps up, your baby will be able to take in more milk in less time at one feeding.
Your supply will flow more and flow more faster as your baby learns the sucking motions. That’s when you will be able to put a time on each feeding session to ensure your baby has had a proper feed and is full.
Amount of feeds per day according to age:
- 1 to 3 months: 8 to 10 times per 24 hours.
- 3 months: 7 to 9 times in 24 hours.
- 6 months: 6 to 8 times in 24 hours
- 12 months: 3 to 4 times in 24 hours, with the addition of Solids
Do bare in mind that all babies are different. Although the majority may follow a routine, not all will.
Infant feeding amounts – Bottle-fed babies
A baby should be fed on demand whether their breastfed or bottle fed. On average, that’s about every 2 to 3 hours for bottle fed babies. A typical infant feeding schedule may look like this:
- Newborn: every 2 to 3 hours
- 2 months: every 3 hours
- 4 to 6 months: every 3-4 hours
- 6+ months: every 3-5 hours
Things to avoid for breastfed and bottle fed babies – Infant feeding amounts
- Avoid liquids until baby is over the age of 1. Except Formula or breast milk. Juices or Cows Milk are a no-no. Your babies digestive system isn’t developed for heavy foods, yet. Yes cow’s milk is a food too! They also don’t provide the right nutrients your baby needs. Introduce water when your baby is above 6 months. Only Water.
- Don’t add baby cereal to a bottle.
- Becomes a choking hazard.
- Clogs baby bottle teat
- Don’t give your baby honey until after the age of 1. Honey can be dangerous for a baby, it can cause, what’s called an infant botulism.
- Becomes a choking hazard.
- Clogs baby bottle teat
Want more do’s and DON’T’S? Click here for the full list
But What if your baby is still hungry? – infant feeding amounts
General rule of thumb, if your baby is still hungry, feed them.
Your baby will naturally want to eat more frequently during growth spurts, which occur around 2-3 weeks, 2-3 months, and 6 months of age.
Some babies “cluster feed”, meaning they’ll feed more frequently during certain periods and less at others. This is when they like to drink lots at one specific time (usually nights) which allows them to go longer without feeds.
This doesn’t mean you should overfeed them at the next feed or distract their sleep.
Try to understand your baby’s rhythm when they do cluster feed. It’s more common in breastfed babies as formula fed babies get a set amount of ounces each time.
Still worried? The best way to determine whether your baby is feeding right or over feeding is their weight. Also their hunger cues at will help determine whether it’s a hungry cue or a comfort cue.
Infant feeding positions
Babies feed in many different positions. Let’s establish which is the most preferred.
Breastfed babies have a different position to bottle fed babies. A breast is slightly upright and tilted. A bottle fed baby is mostly head down straight flat. Keep reading to see why “head down straight flat” is NOT the ideal position.
Breast fed Babies – infant feeding positions
There are a few breastfeeding positions many mamas use the most, these below are 3 of the most popular:
Cradle hold – infant feeding positions
In this position your baby lies across your tummy. It’s what the name says, “like cradling a baby”
This is one of the most popular breastfeeding positions.
For the cradle hold, you can sit in a comfy chair with arm rests, or a bed with cushions or pillows around you. Cradle your baby in your arm and allow baby to suck. You can hold baby’s hand to avoid it getting in the way. At the same time, this provides comfort to your baby when their hand is held. It is important to ensure that your baby feeding has enough milk during feeding sessions at this early stage to meet their nutritional needs and promote healthy growth according to their own unique needs throughout their first year of life. You should talk with your baby’s health care provider before starting solid foods. Solid foods should not begin before age 4 months.
TOP TIP: You can rest your feet on a small stool which will allow you to rest back and stop you from leaning forward reducing the risk of backache.
What is an optimal infant feeding schedule?
An optimal infant feeding schedule involves feeding your baby on demand, allowing them to dictate when they are hungry. Newborns typically feed every 2-3 hours, but this can vary. It’s important to pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues and establish a feeding routine that works for both of you.
Lie on your side – infant feeding positions
This is usually a good position if you’ve gone through a Caesarean as it prevents baby from resting on your scar.
Many mums prefer this method at night when they are also lying in bed. It’s easy to just roll on one side and allow your baby to have their feed instead of getting up and cradling them.
Clutch hold – infant feeding positions
This is one of the first methods nurses will most likely teach you once you’ve had your baby in hospital.
The Clutch hold method. (a.k.a Rugby hold) gives mum full control of baby and avoids baby’s head from wondering off.
As the name suggests, you hold your baby’s necks to support their feed.
This is a good position for mums who have had a Caesarean section or mums with twins as you can feed them both at the same time on each breast.
With this method there is no pressure on the tummy or the scar area if you’ve had a c-section.
Bottle-fed babies – infant feeding positions
There are many positions you can use to feed you bottle fed baby. Each position may not suit every child, which is why you would have to alter to see which position your baby prefers the best.
My babies never liked to be held when drinking from their bottle. They always preferred to lay down on the sofa or in bed with a cushion. The only chance I got to cradle feed my baby’s was when they were under 3 months of age.
Knowing how to bottle-feed a baby properly is key.
The most popular position we see (mostly on telly) is laying baby across your lap on their back. Ideally, it’s NOT the best position and should be avoided.
Not only can a back position lead to reflux, but it can also cause ear infections in some.
You can try these bottle-feeding positions instead and find the one that suits your baby most.
Infant feeding positions:
• Cradle arm position – This is the classic position mama’s use to give their baby a bottle. In this bottle-feeding position, your baby’s head will rest on your arm. Their head and chest will be at a slight incline which is a great position for your baby to easily drink and receive nourishment through bottle feeding.
• Hold baby upright. Instead of lying down straight, lay your baby almost in a seated position, with baby’s head on your chest or in the crook of your arm.
Top Tip: Completely fill the nipple with milk by tilting the bottle so it fills it. Avoid a halfway filled nipple with milk and half with air as that may lead to gas or a bad reflux in your baby.
• Use a pillow – Also known as a boopy. This can be helpful in keeping baby’s chest and head propped up at the right angle, making it easier for baby to drink milk efficiently.
Want to read more on baby positions? Click here.
Other minors to consider
Overall all babies are different and will grow at their own pace. Some will gain weight easily, while others will not as much. Sometimes lack of weight gain can be due to some underlying health issues and not the amount of milk your baby is drinking.
Your baby’s doctor/health nurse is the best one to advise you on a healthy weight range for your baby and always consult with a nurse or doctor if you have any concerns at all.
Is your baby growing the way they should? You can find out here.