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Our newborn is one week old and a boy. When we were still in hospital, the nurse was giving formula milk to our newborn every 3 hours. But since we brought our baby home, we exclusively breastfeed our newborn but not every 3 hours. We only breastfeed our newborn if he is crying.

Is that OK? Which one is better breastfeed newborn periodically (for example every 3 hours, if the newborn is sleeping, we should wake him up to be breastfed) or breastfeed newborn only if he is crying for milk?

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5 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Due to individual differences, healthy full-term babies may breastfeed as often as every hour or as infrequently as every four hours and thrive.

As long as the baby is getting enough, you can follow his lead for when to feed him.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborns nurse at least 8-12 times every 24 hours. If the baby is not waking up on his own to feed that often, you should be waking him if 3-4 hours have passed since the previous feeding. This should be done until the baby regains their original birth weight, after which you do not need to wake them for feedings. If you consistently have to do this, or if your son has a hard time waking up, you should notify your pediatrician.

As babies grow and their stomachs become larger, they naturally begin to go longer between feedings and develop more regular feeding patterns. Growth spurts may disrupt the more regular feeding patterns, but they are usually short lived.

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Note that you only have to wake the baby up every "3-4" hours until the baby regains birth weight. After that, there is no need to wake a sleeping baby. –  Swati Oct 4 '11 at 19:31
    
@Swati Good point! I've edited to address that. Thanks! –  Beofett Oct 4 '11 at 19:47
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When my baby was same as your child's age, I just wait for him to wake up and show signs that he wants to be feed, like if he cries or when he tries to suck his hands. For the earlier months, his schedule changes from time to time, so I really have to adjust. There are days when I only have two hours sleep because he will feed from time to time. My doctor is also closely monitoring my childs growth weight chart, so I can also monitor my child's progress and to check if I'm feeding him correctly.

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+1 because you basically used a bunch of words to say "as much as they need it." –  monsto Jan 29 '13 at 14:28
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Took my vote back. I don't think it's productive to dig out old posts. It's one thing if they're active, but when they've not seen any activity in so long, it's not really helpful to bring them back up. –  monsto Jan 30 '13 at 0:42
    
@monsto I disagree. The idea of this site is to create "timeless" content. Digging up old posts to contribute new insight/answers is perfectly appropriate, so long as it is done with consideration (i.e. you don't fill the "active" question feed with dozens of old posts, and instead space them out a few at a time). There is even a badge for providing quality late answers. –  Beofett Jan 30 '13 at 13:46
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My daughter slept 6 hours at night a few days after she was born and we were told as long as she was eating at least 8 times a day AND making her weight gain benchmarks there was no problem. If she was not making gains, then we would need to wake her - granted she ate much closer together during the day to off set her longer sleep at night. In the end, I would consult a pediatrician you trust that has actually seen your child to make the assessment because each baby will be different.

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In my experience babies typically want to eat more often than this. But as long as your pediatrictian thinks your baby's weight gain is healthy, I wouldn't worry about it too much. It's really best not to feed on a schedule when they're this young and just focus on giving them as much as they want.

I would consider trying to observe your baby more closely though because there may be other cues that he is hungry which you are missing if you're only feeding when he cries. Examples of such cues could be sucking his tongue or lip, rooting, or just vocally calling to you.

It's also possible that early bottle feed could have caused some nipple confusion or that your baby doesn't want to have to work as hard to suckle; bottles typically flow more freely. You may want to consult a local La Leche League group to get some hands on help.

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@Christine Thanks for cleaning up my phone typing. –  William Grobman Oct 4 '11 at 23:36
    
+1 for the comment about crying. Waiting until the baby is so hungry he cries--unless he cries very easily--makes it sound to me like the feedings are not frequent enough; he is getting uncomfortably hungry every time! –  Rex Kerr Oct 6 '11 at 4:27
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From the information my pediatrician gave me, and from what I've read from other pediatricians, you should wake up your baby to feed him.

For very new newborns (2 weeks or younger), you should offer them food every four hours. Sleeping for long periods at a stretch could mean they are too lethargic to wake themselves up to feed, and could be a sign that something more serious is wrong.

However, after your 2-week checkup, I would agree with what @WilliamGrobman said: if your baby is healthy and gaining weight, then let him determine his feeding schedule.

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I'd say that a four-hour interval is much too long for very newborns. Even with infants, a 3-hour cycle is common in my experience. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Oct 4 '11 at 18:33
    
I agree with @Torben - of our 3 and most of our friends babies, the midwives recommended 3 hours if they hadn't already woken themselves up. –  Rory Alsop Oct 4 '11 at 19:11
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4 hours did sound long to me, but that was the number the doctor I was linking to gave. The main point I wanted to get across was not to let your newborn sleep through the night before 2 weeks. –  Sarato Oct 4 '11 at 19:14
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