July 02, 2015

Q: I nurse my newborn on demand, but she always seems to be hungry. Can I get her on a schedule?

A: Unfortunately, a set schedule doesn't necessarily work for a newborn. Rather than breastfeeding by the book -- every two to three hours, say -- you want to make sure you're feeding a new baby enough. Moreover, some newborns take a long time to eat, which can make you feel as though you're feeding your child constantly. Keep in mind that you don't have to jump the minute your child fusses and assume she needs to be fed. Your child could be crying for any number of reasons, such as feeling tired or overstimulated. Also, infants often want to nurse for comfort -- they need to suck but aren't hungry. Once your breastfeeding is established (usually by 2 to 4 weeks) it's good to offer a pacifier if you feel as though your baby has just eaten. As far as getting her on a schedule, once you go to your next well-baby visit and confirm that she's gaining weight properly, you can try holding her off for a reasonable two to three hours. But remember that babies go through growth spurts, such as between 3 and 6 weeks and at 4 months, when they'll want to nurse more often. --Gina Bevinetto Feld

Originally published in American Baby magazine, October 2007.

Answered by American Baby Team