Newborn babies begin their lives with three primary needs: eating, sleeping, and getting love. Giving love to your little one is the easy part. Bring on the baby snuggles! Getting your newborn adjusted to life outside the womb means helping them create a schedule that meets their needs.
Creating a feeding schedule for your newborn is the first step in helping them adjust to life. But making a schedule won’t only be helpful to your baby, it will help you as well. When you and your baby find a schedule that works for each of you, you’ll both be better rested and routined in your daily life.
Learning Feeding Cues
As you begin to learn about your baby, you’ll discover the cues they have for when they are hungry. The first signs of hunger will be when your baby starts licking their lips or making sucking sounds. They may also start sucking on this nearby or try rooting around.
It is during these stages that you’ll want to start getting baby ready to feed. It’s not advisable to wait until your baby is crying to feed them. When baby gets to this point, they may be so upset that they won’t latch or take a bottle easily.
Most doctors recommend feeding your newborn every 2-4 hours. Depending on whether you are formula-feeding or breastfeeding, the timing will vary. Breastfed babies often take more frequent feedings than formula fed babies.
A baby’s stomach is small and can only hold so much food at one time. Ensuring you allow their food to digest is important so your baby doesn’t become too full.
In those first few weeks, you’ll want to try to guide your baby’s schedule while still evaluating what their needs are. Once you have discovered consistent behaviors, you can really begin keeping track of when to schedule feedings with your baby.
For example, if your newborn strictly eats every 3 hours, you can benefit from using the BlueSmart app to schedule their feedings. You’ll be reminded of when upcoming feedings are approaching and keep track of how much your baby eats.
Eating Around the Clock
Because baby bellies are so small and can hold only so much food, feeding them around the clock is important. Your doctor will recommend how many ounces or how many feedings they should receive in a day. You want to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.
Sometimes, this means waking up your baby for a feeding. It can be tempting to let them (and you) get some rest, but it’s important to wake them. For newborns, it’s advisable to not allow them to go more than four hours without eating.
Here are a few tips on waking your sleeping baby to nurse or feed:
- Skin-to-skin. Strip your little one down to a diaper and lay them on your naked chest. Introducing them to the skin will help wake them up. The baby will likely take this as a sign for feeding and begin rooting for the breast, or wake and be ready for a bottle.
- Change their diaper. Changing your baby’s diaper is a great method in waking them up. This is something that needs to be done anyway. It will be better to change before the feeding than after as your baby is likely to fall asleep after eating.
- Rolling with your baby. Lay your baby on the bed or in your lap. Place your forearms on each side of the baby and gently roll them from side to side. This is a very effective (and gentle) wake-up method.
Knowing How Much To Feed Your Baby
Your doctor will advise you how much your baby should be eating per day. As your baby grows, they will require more. Again, listening to your baby will be very important in determining whether you need to increase feedings or ounces per bottle.
For example, if your baby follows a strict eating schedule of every 3 hours but they start desiring a bottle after 2 and half hours, it might be time to increase. Start off small at first. Try an extra half-ounce or 15 minutes longer at the breast. It can take some trial and error, but you want to be sure to listen to your baby and take it slow.
Feeding Schedule Ideas
Below are a few feeding schedules to give you an idea of what you can create for your baby.
Formula Fed Baby at 21 ounces, 7 feedings per day
7am - Wake up
8am - Feed 3oz
9am - Nap
11am - Feed 3oz
12pm - Nap
2pm - Feed 3oz
3pm - Nap
5pm - Feed 3oz
6pm - Nap/Bedtime
9pm - Feed 3oz, back to sleep
1am - Feed 3oz, back to sleep
5am - Feed 3oz, back to sleep
Breastfed Baby - 10 feedings per day
7am - Wake up
8am - Nurse
9am - Nap
10am - Nurse
11am - Nap
12pm - Nurse
1pm - Nap
2pm - Nurse
3pm - Nap
4pm - Nurse
5pm - Nap
6pm - Nurse
7pm - Nap/Bedtime
9pm - Nurse, back to sleep
12pm - Nurse, back to sleep
3am - Nurse, back to sleep
6am - Nurse, back to sleep