With the arrival of your newborn baby, you may have questions and concerns about their feeding schedule. This is completely normal. From sleep schedule to feeding schedule, it’s all new to you.
You can rest easy because Mustela’s baby experts are here to address your questions and concerns about newborn feeding schedules and how often to feed your baby.
General Newborn Feeding Schedule Questions
How Can I Tell If My Baby Is Hungry?
It may take a while for your newborn to settle down once they get to this point, making feeding time difficult. It’s important to recognize early feeding cues before crying sets in.
It will take you and your baby a few days — or even a few weeks — to adjust and learn each other’s cues. But this adjustment period is important because responding to early feeding cues will help eliminate hunger cries.
Look for these signs to tell if your baby is hungry:
- Opens their mouth
- Turns their head toward your chest
- Places their hands and fists in their mouth
- Moves their head from side to side
- Whimpers or makes grunting sounds
How Can I Tell If My Baby Is Full?
Don’t worry about taking the bottle or breast away for fear of your little one getting too full. Newborn babies will stop nursing or taking a bottle during a feeding session when they’re satisfied. Some signs that your baby is full include:
- Pulls away from breast or bottle on their own
- Turns their head away from breast or bottle
- Appears content after a feeding session
How Can I Tell If My Baby Is Eating Enough?
You’re definitely not alone if this is one of your concerns when it comes to feeding your newborn. If you're breastfeeding, it’s hard to know how many ounces your baby consumes during a feeding session.
Keep an eye out for the following clues to tell if your newborn is getting enough nutrients:
- Produces four to six wet diapers per day
- Produces regular bowel movements on a daily basis (Use Mustela’s Diaper Rash Cream 123 to soothe your baby’s skin at each diaper change and help prevent diaper rash.)
- Sleeps well
- Stays alert when awake
- Shows weight gain at routine doctor visits
Keep an eye out for the following clues to tell if your newborn is not getting enough nutrients:
- Unsatisfied after feedings
- Little to no weight gain
- Cries or fusses often
- Seems hungry often
Follow up with your baby’s pediatrician if you have any concerns about your newborn’s eating patterns.
Tip: Keep Mustela’s Soothing Cleansing Wipes on hand during feeding time. These resourceful wipes not only provide the best relief during diaper changes but can also be used for quick, gentle cleaning of your baby’s skin after their feeding sessions.
Should I Put My Baby On A Feeding Schedule?
While scheduling feedings may seem like a good idea for your newborn, you might want to hold off doing so, at least for the first few months. Not feeding your newborn because you’re watching the clock could reduce your milk production and may even lead to engorgement.
Postponing feedings to follow a schedule may also upset your newborn and result in crying, which is a late sign of hunger.
Newborn Breastfeeding Schedule Questions
How Often Should I Breastfeed?
Keep in mind the size of your newborn’s stomach. It’s small! Therefore, your baby may need to eat on demand, better known as “demand feeding.”
Demand feeding means that you breastfeed your newborn whenever they appear hungry. The first few days after birth, it’s OK — and beneficial — to feed your baby on demand.
In the beginning, feedings may take place as often as every one and a half hours to establish your milk supply. It’s completely normal for your newborn to nurse eight to 12 times per day, especially within the first few weeks or even throughout the entire first month.
Breast milk is easier to digest, which is why breastfed babies tend to have more feedings in a day than formula-fed babies. So if you feel like you’re nursing all day, then you’re probably doing something right! As tiring as it may be, this is a good thing because it increases your milk production.
After the first month, feedings will decrease to seven to nine per day. And each month after that, the number of nursing sessions per day will continue to decrease.
Remember, a newborn should go no longer than four hours without nursing in a 24 hour period, even at night.
Expert tip: Apply Mustela's Nursing Comfort Balm in-between feedings to relieve any pain you may experience. This soothing nipple cream will ease discomfort and moisturize sensitized nipples.
Plus, it’s environmentally friendly, made of 100% naturally derived ingredients, and safe for both you and your baby during prenatal and postpartum pregnancy.
How Long Does It Take To Nurse?
The answer to this question varies depending on the age of your baby and your milk supply. Newborns may nurse up to 20 minutes on each breast, which results in a 40-minute nursing session.
As your baby grows in size and age, they’ll become more efficient at nursing. When this happens, it may only take your baby a total of 10 to 15 minutes to nurse.
Other factors to consider in the length of time it takes to nurse include:
- Time for colostrum to change to milk (The first few days, you will produce a substance called colostrum. It will eventually turn into breast milk. When your breasts start to feel firmer, that’s a sign that your milk supply is increasing and changing. But remember some women’s milk may take more than a few days to come in.)
- Speed of your let-down reflex
- Speed of your milk flow (some are fast; some are slow)
- Position of your baby (latched on correctly)
- Sleepiness of your baby
- Distractibility of your baby
- When your baby starts nursing
Talk with your baby’s pediatrician if you have any concerns about the length of your their feedings.
How Do I Count Feeding Intervals?
If your newborn nurses every two hours, mark the time of your baby’s feeding at the start of the nursing session, not when it ends. Some newborns nurse quickly and some may take a little longer, which is why you can’t count your newborn’s feeding intervals from when they finish nursing.
For example, if your little one begins nursing at 8:00 but it takes them 30 minutes to finish, mark down 8:00 as the time of the first feeding — not 8:30. That would make 10:00 the start time of the second feeding session, even though it’s only an hour and a half after they finished eating.
How Often Should I Alternate Breasts?
Try to offer both breasts during each feeding to sustain your milk supply. Your baby may not take the second breast if they’re full.
Some women find it helpful to alternate breasts in the middle of each feeding session, while others prefer to switch breasts at each feeding so that they’re only nursing from one for an entire session and the other during the next session.
No matter which method you choose, be sure to keep track of which breast you offered last so that you’re giving both the same amount of nursing time throughout the day.
Newborn Formula Feeding Schedule Questions
How Often Should I Feed My Baby?
Since your newborn’s tummy is so tiny, you’ll need to feed your baby formula every two to three hours during their first month. As their tummy grows, so will the length of time between feedings.
Because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk, formula-fed babies won’t get hungry as often. Typically after the first month, they will eat every three to four hours.
How Much Formula Should I Give My Baby?
Within the first few weeks, make two- to three-ounce bottles every two to three hours for your newborn. Increase this amount after adjusting to their eating patterns. Look for the following cues to know when to start increasing your little one’s formula intake:
- Finishing a full bottle at each feeding
- Showing signs of hunger after each feeding
Newborns drink about 1.5 to 3 ounces of formula every two to three hours. Increase the amount as your baby grows.
Two-month-old babies drink about 4 to 6 ounces of formula every three to four hours. Increase the amount when your baby is able to consume more formula at each feeding.
A Time For Bonding
Now that you have answers to your questions about newborn feeding schedules and how often to feed your little bundle of joy, you can soak up this precious time with your newborn. It passes quickly, so embrace each feeding session while you bond with your brand new baby.
You can rest assured that you’re giving your newborn the best start when you combine Mustela's products with your newfound feeding knowledge!