Hi Mamma! I hope you aren’t too tired today and that you weren’t up all night with your little one! I’m guessing you’re probably still waking up to nurse overnight. It’s tempting to want to quit breastfeeding if you think your little one will sleep longer. At this point, you’re probably looking for any type of breastfeeding schedule. Some type of guide or advice on how often you should be waking up for feedings, and when you can finally get some sleep. It is HARD WORK figuring out when they are truly hungry or just waking up for comfort. The balance between wanting to make sure they’re fed yet allowing them to self-soothe is definitely tricky.
Although each baby is different, there are a few general guidelines you can reference for eating through infancy. The schedules below provide estimates of how often your breastfed baby should be eating (and waking up at night). If you’re trying to find a breastfeeding schedule by age for your little one, you’ve come to the right place!
When there is no schedule
Ok, if you’re here and your baby is under six weeks old I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re likely still on the “on demand” feeding schedule. You will still be up every few hours. Newborns nurse 8-12 times per day. Many feeding sessions are long as babies aren’t as efficient when they first start nursing. Trying to get on a breastfeeding schedule too early can actually damage your milk supply, and have negative implications for your child’s growth. If you’re in this phase the only thing I can tell you is to hang on, nap when you can, and that it will pass quickly. Even if it doesn’t feel like it.
By ~ 2 months newborns will breastfeed 7-9 times per day. However, this will vary based on the child. Some can go 2-3 hours without a feeding, but many are still nursing every 90 minutes. This can feel like a never-ending cycle if you’re still not getting long stretches of sleep at night, but it’s important to remember that this is temporary. The good news is that after a couple of months your baby will get much more efficient, and while she could have nursed for almost an hour during the early sessions, she will cut down drastically as the months move on.
SAMPLE BREASTFEEDING SCHEDULE
If you’re returning to work, it’s probably important to you to get on a semi-regular breastfeeding schedule (and pumping schedule) so that you know when to pump when you’re away from the baby. Check out my tips for continuing to breastfeed after returning to work.
Here is a sample feeding schedule for a three-month-old baby with a working mom:
7:00 a.m. – Nurse
10:00 a.m. – Pump/Bottle
12:30 p.m. – Nurse/Bottle
3:30 p.m. – Pump/Bottle
6:30 p.m. – Nurse
10:00 p.m. – Dream Feed*
+1-2 overnight nursing sessions
The good news is that as your baby gets older, feedings get more regular, and you’ll continue to get longer stretches of sleep at night. Check out my sample breastfeeding schedule for six, nine, and twelve-month-old babies who are still exclusively breastfeeding.
THE DREAM FEED
*A Dream feed is a feeding in which you feed the baby right before YOU go to sleep, presumably after the baby has already been down for a few hours. You don’t have to fully wake them, just rouse baby enough so she latches on and hopefully you’ll get a longer stretch of sleep before the next feeding.
I’ll be 100% honest, I didn’t stop our dream feed until almost 10 months. I think Baby Wise says to drop it before six months. (We were not a Baby Wise family, but I know some people who swear by it). I was already up so many times a night I was paranoid to try and drop the dream feed. Since we didn’t sleep through the night until a year I don’t know what I was so worried about. The breastfeeding schedule above will need to be adjusted for you and your baby but should provide a rough structure of what it looks like to nurse at different intervals throughout infancy.
Although the early months feel like one never-ending day and night, after a few months your baby will settle into a more predictable pattern of eating and sleeping. After six months you may even be sleeping through the night! By a year old, you’re likely in a very consistent nursing routine and have had your breastfeeding schedule down pat for a while. You can choose to wean or continue your nursing relationship beyond the first year. Although each phase is challenging for different reasons, the first year will fly by and you’ll be on to the next step before you know it!
If you want to learn to breastfeed and really set yourself up for success when you go back to work, check out the awesome resource I put together on breastfeeding and working success.
We’ll tackle questions like:
- How to set up the conversation about breastfeeding at work
- How to prepare to be successful breastfeeding when you return to work
- Getting your baby ready for bottle-feeding
- Your rights as a breastfeeding mom
You’ll also learn how to:
- Set up your day so you get more done
- Prioritize and set yourself up for success
- Outline expectations and your schedule with your boss
- Crush it as a boss mamma when you’re back at work
Click the banner below for more information!
If you have any questions you can always reach by using the contact menu in the toolbar!