Breast and Bottle: Knowing When To Drop A Feeding

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When you bring baby home from the hospital, you will most likely be feeding her anywhere from 8-10 times throughout the day.

By the time she is 1 year old, she will be down to 2-3 bottles and ready to transition from formula/breast to cow’s milk!

 

There are constant changes in feeding schedules throughout this first year.

It can be difficult to know when to drop feedings, especially if you are breastfeeding.



     
Here is a look at what the timeline looked like for us during the 1st year with regards to breastfeeding:


Note: MOTN means middle of the night

 

Newborn (1-2 weeks):
8 scheduled feedings during the day + ~3 MOTN feedings
Newborn (3-4 weeks):
6 scheduled feedings during the day + 1 MOTN feeding
Month 2:
7 scheduled feedings during the day + 2 MOTN feedings
Month 3:
5 scheduled feedings during the day + 1 MOTN feeding
Months 48:
4 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding
*Started solid food in month 4 

Month 9:
3 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding

Month 10:
2 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding

Month 11: 0 scheduled feedings (we had to wean to cows milk 1 month early due to a medication that I needed to be on) & no MOTN feeding.
*I would have dropped to 1 scheduled feeding during this month otherwise

 

You’ll notice that in month 2 we upped the number of daytime feedings from the previous month. Caroline started waking more at night and seemed to be going through a growth spurt, so we tried a technique called cluster feeding to help combat this issue.

It helped to stretch the feedings out at night, but did not eliminate them. The cluster feeding is why you see the spike in the number of daytime feedings.

Check out the page on the wake to sleep method to see how we eventually and successfully eliminated the second MOTN feeding.

 

We were typically ahead of the recommended curve when it came to dropping feedings. The Babywise book and all of my other research tended to recommend 1 more feeding than what we were doing.

I mention this, because it is key that you listen to your baby’s cues. Caroline simply did better and ate more when we used the above schedules instead of what was “recommended”, and she always gained weight perfectly, so there was no cause for concern.

 

Knowing when it is time to drop a feeding:
    

– Baby is snacking instead of taking full feeds.

If bottle feeding, you’ll see a drop in the ounces eaten; if breastfeeding, you might notice a drop in the amount of feeding time.

Where this gets tricky for breastfeeding moms, is that babies also get more efficient and effective with breastfeeding as they get older.

So, she could still be taking a full feeding, even though the nursing time has gotten shorter. You’ll want to watch for other signs as well…
– Baby is disinterested. 

She might be looking around, and just more interested in other things. This happens a lot when babies learn new skills, so if your baby is doing this for a few days, it is normal.

Wait it out and see if she comes around. If it continues for a week or longer, it may be time to consider that she isn’t hungry enough, and a schedule change might be in order.

 

– Baby pushes breast or bottle away.

This is the clear cut sign that baby doesn’t want food. Don’t force it.

Just try rearranging the schedule to see if she’ll eat at different time intervals. Again, make sure that this is a pattern for several days before adjusting your schedule.
– Baby starts to take longer naps, and there isn’t time for another feeding in the schedule. 

Sometimes a schedule change occurs because of other factors. This is completely okay. As long as your baby can handle the new schedule and isn’t too hungry, she will make up for the dropped feed during the other feeding times.


Note: if she is sleeping, she is not hungry. 

 

An example of a change we made at the 9 month mark:

Caroline was still nursing 4 times a day. She did great with the first morning breastfeed, but then the next 3 were getting shorter and shorter. It felt very forced, which was frustrating for Mama and baby!

She would feed for only a couple of minutes on each side and was completely disinterested in nursing. She’d literally take a few sucks and be done.

I waited it out for over a week, and then made the decision to drop to 3 feedings. Almost immediately, she started taking nice long feeds for all 3 that I offered.

I knew she was getting more food with 3 nursing sessions than she was with 4.

After our morning nursing session.
Happy Mama and happy Caroline!
9.5 months old

As a breastfeeding mama, I know that it can be a nerve wracking decision to drop a feed. Your supply is at stake (especially if you are over 30 and are getting down to fewer feeds a day).

If you are nervous about this, make sure you drink plenty of water, and you can also choose to pump during the dropped feeding time, if you feel it is necessary.

I have never pumped just because of a dropped feed, however, and my supply has never been negatively impacted.

From my research, it sounds to me that if you are going to have supply issues, it is going to happen regardless of the schedule that you keep or the number of times you pump, feed, etc.

I was very nervous to drop to 3 feedings though, since I don’t pump. With each change, I worried. No supply issues ever came, even when down to just two feedings a day.

-Katrina

Other Posts of Interest:

8 Benefits of Keeping Baby on a Schedule (Feeding on Demand vs. Feeding on Schedule)

Knowing When to Drop a Feeding

How to Drop the Last Middle of the Night Feeding

Schedules- Info on eating habits, times, etc can be found here listed by age

Advantages of Breastfeeding on a Schedule

Handling the 3-6-9 Growth Spurts (When they happen and what to expect)

When and How to Give Solid Foods to your Baby

When to Introduce Water to Your Infant

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mamasorganizedchaos

Hi there! I’m Katrina (aka Mama). I am a former engineer and chemistry teacher, turned stay at home mom and mom blogger. I have been blogging since 2015, and have taken my love of engineering and science, and tried to applied many of the same methods to my parenting adventure.

I have a huge passion for Babywise and prioritizing sleep for our children. I am mom to 3 (including one angel baby that had trisomy 13). A huge mission of mine is to share her story and legacy. I am a big believer in being real and doing what works for YOUClick here to subscribe to my weekly newsletter to follow our story. 

This blog is intended to be our story and our ideas- including successes and failures along the way. You can also find me published at Today Parenting, Her View From Home, and VitamedMD. Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for more parenting tips and to hear more about our journey!

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