The first few months of a baby’s life, you may feel like you are constantly feeding or rocking your infant, or trying to get your baby to sleep. Following your baby’s demands ensures that he or she gets enough to eat, but you may also consider utilizing a regular schedule for nursing or bottle-feeding your bundle of joy.
Observe Eating Habits
Your child’s current eating cycle creates the basis of the feeding schedule. A day or two of feeding on demand and observing your infant’s natural hunger patterns gives you a good idea of how often he or she normally eats. The pattern might not be the same every day. Other things, like sleep, might affect how and when your baby eats, so make notes on other things that happen during the day as well.
Pay Attention to Signs
Your infant offers signs that indicate when he or she is hungry and full. These signs help establish the routine and learn when adjustments are necessary. Signs of hunger include rooting near the breast, making sucking actions, moving the lips and stretching. If your baby’s hunger isn’t satisfied, he or she might become irritated and difficult to calm. A baby lets you know he or she is done eating by turning away from the breast or bottle or stopping the sucking action.
Accommodate Changing Needs
Your baby’s feeding schedule won’t likely look the same at six months as it did at six weeks. Babies’ eating needs change as they get older, meaning you’ll need to change your feeding schedule to accommodate that. Newborns often eat between six and 10 times a day because their stomachs are smaller, and they don’t have solids to hold them over. As a baby gets closer to six months, that might stretch out to only four to six times a day.
Allow Schedule Flexibility
Even when you get a sense of your baby’s usual eating schedule, make room for flexibility. Your baby might get hungry early one day. Making your infant wait until the next scheduled feeding leaves him or her hungry and likely irritable. When you reach the scheduled feeding time, your baby might be too upset to eat. On other days, his hunger might be lower. Offer your infant the opportunity to eat, but don’t force it.
Create an Overall Schedule
Getting your baby on a regular overall schedule will help the eating fall into place. Create a bedtime routine to help your baby fall asleep around the same time each night. Get into a rhythm with awake times and sleeping during the day. Regulating daily activities gets your baby into a routine and provides comfort to your infant so he or she is able to eat on a more regular schedule.