Should my five-month-old still be eating every three hours?

Q: My child is 5-months-old and he is still eating every 3 hours. Is this okay or should he be waiting longer to eat now?

A: Because every baby is different, there’s no single right answer. How often your baby eats might depend on whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Breastfed babies generally nurse more frequently throughout the day than babies who are formula fed. How often your son eats also depends on how much your milk he’s drinking at each feeding. At six months of age, most babies are consuming 6 to 8 ounces per feeding. If he’s not getting this much milk at each feeding, he’s likely compensating by taking the breast or the bottle more often.

As long as your pediatrician says your baby is growing and gaining weight appropriately, there’s no need to worry. Normal weight gain and development are far better indicators of feeding success than the frequency of a baby’s feedings. If your pediatrician finds that your baby is gaining weight too fast, your son is getting too much milk. He may be taking the breast or bottle because he wants the comfort of sucking rather than the nourishment provided by milk. If that’s the case, you can offer him a pacifier to satisfy his need to suck. If your son isn’t gaining enough weight and he seems hungry all the time, your pediatrician will likely want to order some tests to find out why.

Feeding schedules vary among babies and their parents, and that’s okay. While some parents feel better if their babies feed on a rather rigid schedule, other moms and dads are more comfortable allowing their infants to eat whenever they’re hungry. If you and your son are healthy and happy with your current feeding schedule, you can relax and enjoy your special time together.

Answered by Dr. Rallie McAllister

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