Although present day parents are well aware of the breastfeeding benefits, concern regarding proper feeding of the newborn lingers. Mothers are often in a quandary in fixing a proper newborn feeding schedule.
Mothers need to monitor the sleeping and feeding patterns of their newborns for few days before adopting a feeding schedule. Breastfeeding newborns may require eight to twelve feeds per day, and this may vary with the formula feeding newborns. The number of feeds per day reduces as the newborns grow. Sometimes insufficient supply of breast milk compels the mothers to adopt a different feeding schedule. It is quite easy for mothers with sufficient breast milk to maintain a definite feeding schedule. Professional guidance from pediatricians and midwives are quite handy in chalking out the right newborn feeding schedule.
How to Fix a Newborn Feeding Schedule?
Breastfeeding mothers need not follow a rigid feeding schedule and the newborns should be fed on demand. Care should be taken that the newborn does not remain underfed while following a feeding schedule. Most newborns exhibit some gestures and signs of hunger and mothers should aptly follow those signs and provide the timely feed. In the initial months, newborns may demand feeding after every 1- 2 hours and the time gap increases as they grow.
A formula feeding newborn may require 2-3 ounces of feeding after every 3-4 hours. The mother should check that the newborn is not left unfed for more than four hours. Often it is very tough to feed a sleepy newborn. In that case, the mother should wake up their babies after a definite time interval and feed them. Consultation with a pediatrician will help the mothers to feed a sleepy newborn.
Factors On Which the Newborn Feeding Schedule Depends
Feeding schedule varies with every newborn and is dependent on the weight and height of the baby. A baby weighing more will have an increased appetite and will demand higher volumes of feeding. Feeding schedule changes with the age of the newborn. Feeding timings and volume consumed during each feeding also determines the feeding schedule. Feeding is frequent when the newborns go through a growth spurt.
Follow the Signs and Gestures of Your Newborn
Newborns show some signs and gestures when they are hungry. Follow these signals carefully to fix a feeding schedule of your newborn. Normally, babies cry out when they are hungry, but before that they show some signs of hunger. Again, crying does not always mean that your newborn is hungry. Your newborn may feel discomfort due to wet nappies and diapers or he/she may cry out due to some sleep disturbances.
A newborn may move his/her head on both sides and open his/her mouth frequently when hungry. He/she may also place his/her fists and hands in his/her mouth and show signs of sucking. A newborn tries to snuggle close to his/her mother’s breasts when he/she is hungry, or may show a rooting reflex of his/her mouth when something is stroked against his/her cheek or mouth. These are very common and simple signs exhibited by a hungry newborn, and you will get acquainted with these within a few weeks.
How to Determine Whether the Feeding Schedule is Right for Your Newborn or Not
It has been already mentioned that a newborn may not follow a rigid feeding schedule everyday. You should be watchful about the proper growth of your newborn while going through the schedule. Although doctors recommend on demand feeding of newborns, but mothers should check that the baby is maintaining the desired growth rate.
Check the weight of your newborn after every 2- 3 months and consult your pediatrician if your baby remains underweight. Occasionally, a newborn may require less feed in a day and you should not worry about that. Urination and bowel movements of the newborn must be monitored while following a fixed feeding schedule for the newborn. If your baby wets lesser number of diapers and have irregular bowel movements, seek consultations from the pediatrician.
Do not overlook if your newborn shows lack of interest in feeding and consume very little. You may need to readjust the newborn feeding schedule with due professional consultation. Mothers should be cautious enough regarding overfeeding of the newborn as it may invite health problems in the future. Formula fed newborns need lesser feeds and may suffer from infant colic and other digestive problems. Mothers should be aware of the sufficient milk supply to prevent under nutrition of their newborns.
How Do You Know that Your Baby is Full?
Look out for the signs to determine whether your newborn is full or not. During breastfeeding, a newborn may take a short break for few minutes. A newborn takes 15-20 minutes to suck the required amount of milk. If he/she stops too early, burp him/her and wait for a minute or two before continuing the feeding. If the baby is full, he/she will resist further feeding else he/she will continue. This is applicable with the formula feeding newborns as well.
Newborns Show Variations in Their Feeding Patterns
Your newborn will show variations in their feeding patterns as they grow, and you need to alter the newborn feeding schedule accordingly. Newborns require more number of feeds when their growth rate is high. According to Mayoclinic.com, feeding rate of newborns is high during 10-14 days and 3-6 weeks after their birth. This period again varies with every newborn. You should be prepared for variations in feeding patterns of the newborn and feed according to the demand.
Utility of Feeding Chart
Newborn feeding schedule will alter widely as you will start introducing solids. After 5-6 months, the diet of newborn should contain vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, D and Iron, necessary for healthy growth. The number of feeds gets reduced to about 3-4 times a day on demand and mothers should follow a feeding chart formulated by the pediatrician.
A pediatrician checks the body weight of the newborn and fixes the feeding schedule along with the amount of feeds required for your newborn. Your child may not follow that chart perfectly, and there may be a necessity of few additions and alterations. A feeding chart is of immense help to the mothers at this growing stage of newborns as it helps in the right kind of nourishment preventing all sorts of nutritional deficiencies.
Regular following of the feeding chart inculcates healthy eating habits, beneficial for the future. Besides feeding schedules and charts, a mother should have confidence in her instincts and feed the newborn on demand. Feeding charts do provide essential nutritional guidelines but cannot predict the feeding pattern of each and every newborn.