As adorable as they are, babies have no respect for your time. When they want something, they really don't care if it's 4 p.m. or 4 a.m. It's not at all unusual to feel like you do nothing but feed them, change them, and put them to sleep, and it can be maddening. Spacing out a baby's feedings can be a good place to start to try and make your days a bit more manageable. If you're looking for answers on how to get your baby on a feeding schedule, however, there are a few things you should know.
First of all, newborn babies need to eat when they need to eat, so don't expect to start working on a schedule as soon as you get home from the hospital. Secondly, if you're a breastfeeding mom, feeding your baby on a schedule does come with some risks. According to La Leche League International (LLLI), spacing out feedings can hurt your supply and change the fat content of your milk. If you're OK with those risks or if you're a formula feeding mother, sticking to a schedule can bring sanity back to your life.
Here are seven ways to start getting your baby to eat on a schedule.
1. Wait Until The Right Age
As mentioned above, you're not going to want to test out a feeding schedule on a newborn. Baby Center noted that for the first few weeks, a baby will probably need to eat every two hours or so. At around a month old, however, they should be able to last for three hours between feedings. It may not sound like much, but that could potentially cut your feedings from 12 a day down to eight.
2. Start Small
If your baby is used to being fed when they're hungry, suddenly pushing back a feeding by an hour is just not going to work. That's why Parents recommended starting with small increments, pushing back a feeding by just a couple of minutes at a time at first and gradually building it up.
3. Make Sure They Fill Up
You may find that your baby likes to pop on and off the breast or the bottle when they're feeding, which may make you think they're full. But according to the Mayo Clinic, they may simply just be taking a break and could still have room for more. The more they eat during one feeding, the longer they'll stay full until the next one.
4. Burp Them
The Mayo Clinic also noted that your baby may eat more if you stop for a burp. If they can get their gas out, it may create more room in their tummies for milk.
5. Don't Let Them Fall Asleep
If your baby falls asleep when they're eating, it doesn't necessarily mean they're full according to Today's Parent. They may simply be tired of sucking or struggling to pull in milk. Either way, they aren't filling up their belly and they'll be less likely to stay full until their next feeding.
6. Be Consistent
Getting a baby on a schedule takes commitment. The Bump warned parents that babies will come to anticipate their feedings and nap times, so missing or even delaying one can leave them extremely cranky.
7. Be Flexible
Babies grow and change so rapidly that you'll inevitably have to change up the schedule to meet their needs, according to Parenting. Things like growth spurts can make them hungrier than normal, and the introduction of solid foods can mean you have to change around the timing of bottle-feedings or nursing sessions.