During the first six weeks of its existence, a baby is completely insensitive to the passage of time. He is unable to differentiate between day and night. This applies both to the rhythm of his meals and to the phases of his sleep. This is why, during the first weeks, fixed schedules would only contribute to stress your child .
At first, it was impossible for him to bear meals administered at relatively long intervals. These intervals between two meals gradually increase during the first weeks to stabilize, as a rule, between three and four hours. This means that during the first few weeks your child needs about six to eight meals per 24 hours.
One of the essential conditions for developing a normal feeding rhythm for your baby is to breastfeed him when he is hungry. So your child is fed according to his needs and your amount of milk will adapt to the baby’s needs in just a few days.
When your baby’s appetite increases, he will want to drink more frequently. This increased need will promote the formation of milk and your quantity of milk will automatically adapt to the new needs of your child. When the breast produces more milk, the intervals between breastfeeding automatically increase in proportion.
Important: It should however be noted that your newborn cannot do without eating at night. Babies are unable to absorb large amounts of fluids at one time. It takes at least 12 to 16 weeks before they can, so to speak, stock up on liquid, during the evening feeding or bottle feeding.
How often should newborns feed?: Drink schedule
During the first few days, most babies do not know the difference between the need to suck and hunger. They ask for a drink every time they wake up. Some babies, especially those with jaundice, may remain sleepy until they have regained their birth weight. They sometimes forget to wake up to drink. So you have to stimulate them, even at night, to make sure they drink enough.
Remember that at the beginning of their life, babies are in a learning period. During this period, they are not always very effective and need to drink longer and more often.
Later, the frequency and duration of drinking, such as sleep and wake patterns, may vary from time to time and from day to day. Babies are all different. Some babies have a regular schedule, others have unpredictable schedules. As the baby ages, the drinks tend to be shorter and more spaced.
Your baby’s schedule may depend on:
- about his age;
- of his temperament and his mood;
- the efficiency of its suction and the speed of flow of the milk;
- of the time of day.
Breast milk is easily digested because it is perfectly adapted to the human baby. The breastfed baby usually drinks 8 or more times per 24 hours, especially the first few months.
Most commercial infant formulas are made from cow’s milk. They digest more slowly because the baby’s stomach has to work longer to assimilate them. This is probably the reason why the number of drinks in infants fed commercial infant formula is generally 6 or more drinks per day.
It is difficult to predict how many drinks your baby will take each day. It is just as difficult to predict the amount of milk he will take with each drink.
Instead, you will need to learn to recognize the signs that your baby is hungry or full. Offer him a drink when he is showing signs of hunger, but do not force him to take more milk when he is full in the hope that he will space out his drinks.
At first, you may have trouble understanding your baby’s needs. Is he hungry Has he drunk enough? Is he crying because he is uncomfortable and wants to be hugged? If you have the impression that your baby drinks little or on the contrary that he drinks too much, your midwife or the CLSC nurse can help you see more clearly.
Can you overfeed a newborn breastfeeding?
How do I know if my baby is drinking enough?
Several clues will let you know:
- Your baby wets enough diapers and has regular bowel movements.
During the first week, your baby should wet one diaper per day of life. For example, it will wet 1 coat on the first day, 2 layers on the second day, etc. At the age of one week, he should, therefore, wet 6 to 8 layers a day. The meconium will disappear in the first 48 hours to make way for the transition stools. It is then common to find a saddle at all diaper changes.
During the first month, your baby wets 6 to 8 diapers each day, and at least one is soiled(yellowish and soft stools). After the first month, the baby continues to wet at least 6 to 8 diapers a day, but his stools may occur less often (as little as one bowel movement every 3 to 7 days).
- Your child’s weight is increasing enough and steadily. Follow his growth chart with your healthcare professional.
- Your baby suckles well and often, that is, 8 times or more per 24 hours.
- You see it or hear it swallow.
- He seems satisfied and relaxed at feeding.
- Your breasts are softer after feeding.
What if my baby does not breastfeed enough and is not gaining enough weight?
First, remember that it is normal for your baby to lose up to 10% of his birth weight in the first few days after delivery. If, afterwards, he does not suck enough and if he does not regain his weight quickly enough, here are some tips:
- Keep him against you by promoting skin-to-skin contact to stimulate him to drink more often.
- Check his latch, then make sure he suckles and swallows well. If your baby drinks effectively, his sucking movements will be visible near his jaw. At the start of feeding, they will be light and quick, and when the milk starts flowing, they will become slower and deeper. You will be able to see and hear your child swallowing and you will notice a slight pause when his mouth is fully open.
- Breastfeed your baby more often, that is, 8 or more times in 24 hours. Wake him up if necessary.
- Use the breast compression technique.
- Offer him each breast more than once at each feeding.
- Contact a breastfeeding support group located in your region, a breastfeeding nurse who works at your CLSC or a lactation consultant. These resource persons will be able to verify with you that no external factor (eg, birth control pills, unexpelled placenta fragment) is affecting your milk production.
|Can certain herbs increase my milk production?Certain herbs are recommended in several cultures for their possible effect on milk production. However, the mechanism of action of these herbs is not very well known and there is very little research on their actual effectiveness. Some studies report that the use of fenugreek and milk thistle could be associated with an increase in the quantity of milk. However, the quality of these studies is not sufficient to recommend the use of these herbs.Breastfeeding experts generally agree that the best way to increase milk production is to improve breastfeeding practices, that is, breastfeed more often and ensure breasts are well emptied at each feeding.|
My baby asks to drink every hour. Is my milk sufficient or nourishing enough?
It could be a growth spurt. The growth spurts occur around 2 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, then 3 months and 6 months. The baby then needs to drink more milk for one or two days. It is not because your milk is not nourishing enough, but because your child is growing and his needs change.
The more your baby suckles, the more your milk production will adjust. You can also offer him each breast more than once at each feeding. Your milk production will quickly adjust to your baby’s new needs.
Should I wake my newborn to feed?
As we adapt to newborn routines, everything becomes easier. However, many questions arise during the first few days. How and when should I feed him? Is it necessary to wake the baby to feed him?
Feeding with breast milk is necessary and beneficial for the baby, at least until the age of six months. Even when he shows his needs himself, doubts arise about the number of takes he needs. Sometimes we may believe that if he sleeps, he may end up spending a lot of time without eating. Other times, we are afraid of missing the breastfeeding time that we had estimated if he continues to sleep.
In case you do not know, we inform you that babies know better than us how much milk they need and when they need it. Feeding infants during their first phase of life may be subject only to their needs. In other words, we will produce as much milk as he needs and he will take as much of it himself as he wants. In this sense, during his first months of life, it will not be necessary to wake him up to give him food.
However, in some special cases, many recommended by our doctor, you will have to wake your baby up to feed him. For example, if the child is premature, not completely healthy, losing weight or not gaining enough, it may be necessary to feed him more often. In other words, in these cases, if the baby is sleeping too much, you will have to wake him up to feed him.
How long should a newborn sleep without feeding?: Food on demand
It is normal that doubts arise when we have not breastfed for a long time. This happens especially when we take the initiative to feed the baby every 4 hours. If this time has passed and the baby is still sleeping, we may feel that something needs to be done. It is also frequent that we are afraid to modify the timetable that we have prepared.
However, some mothers opt for demand feeding. Feeding your child on demand means breastfeeding him when he needs it and expresses it. In other words, give him food without worrying about the time between one take and the next. In this way, it will not be necessary to wake the baby up for each take.
Many specialists recommend on-demand feeding because all babies have the ability to identify when they are hungry and cry to manifest it.
While we are breastfeeding on demand, the baby will take the lead in choosing the meal time. In case he is asleep, he will wake up himself to suckle. Thanks to this type of food, the little one eats when he is hungry, so his needs will always be met.
He will look for the breast, cry and suck to indicate that he wants to eat. It is important that the mother breastfeeds even if little time has passed since the last dose. At first we may not be sure of many things, but when breastfeeding is fully established, he will wake up in due course.
When is it necessary to wake the baby to eat?
As we said earlier, if the baby is healthy, you will not need to wake him up to eat. However, in some cases, he will need to be fed even during his sleeping hours. If the following circumstances are ever present, it is advisable to wake the baby up to eat:
- If the baby needs to gain weight or lose weight and has spent several hours sleeping without eating.
- When the baby has not yet adapted to a breastfeeding schedule. This usually occurs in the first days of birth.
- If the baby is premature or sick.
Although these are exceptional cases, we recommend that you do so as gently as possible each time you wake up the baby. For example, it is good to take advantage of the fact that he is moving, coughing or turning around to offer her the breast. Having it nearby, for example in the baby sling or baby carrier, will allow you to breastfeed without having to wake it up suddenly. The key is to try not to wake him from deep sleep. Rather, take advantage of its movements and interactions with the environment.