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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
7 scheduled feedings during the day + 2 MOTN feedings
5 scheduled feedings during the day + 1 MOTN feeding
4 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding
*Started solid food in month 4
3 scheduled feedings during the day & no MOTN feeding
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.
Other Posts of Interest:
Handling the 3-6-9 Growth Spurts (When they happen and what to expect)
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