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Is breastfeeding on demand ? Or should I use a clock?

I had a question this week from a mom of a 2 month old baby, who is gaining weight nicely, and was told that at 2 months a baby should have 6 feedings / 24 hours.

But of course her baby is feeding every 2 hours during the day, and once every 4-5 hours at night (yes: she is a lucky mom!).

So finally, should the frequency of feedings decrease with time?

Well, no: it is not like for babies who are fed with artificial milk and whose feedings are gradually spaced out by increasing the volume.

Lactation starts in the first month, and increases little by little to reach a plateau at 1 month. From 1 to 6 months, baby's milk needs are constant, around 800 ml/24h.

Depending on the mother's production and storage capacity, the number of feedings will vary. Once lactation is established, some mothers have a large storage capacity and give 1 breast every 4 hours, while others, in order to provide the same volume of milk, will give both breasts every two hours. It is the frequent drainage of the breasts that helps maintain lactation.

And if you decrease the frequency of feedings, you will gradually decrease the lactation.

Breast milk is also digested very quickly, and you don't know how much the baby has taken in. Some feeds are very short, others longer. Sometimes baby will just have a snack, other times a complete menu with starter, main course and dessert, ...

But the number of feedings also varies according to the time of day (there are often very frequent feedings in the evening), according to the weather (feedings are more frequent in case of heat wave), according to the state of the mother (if she has had a small drop in milk because of an illness: feedings will be more frequent), according to the state of the baby (if he has a cold he may have more frequent feedings) And there are also the peak days when the baby may ask for more frequent feedings. The frequency of feedings also depends on the baby's needs: the need for comfort, the need for a cuddle, the need for warmth, the need for reassurance in case of family changes (moving house, etc.). Because feeding is not only for eating!

So overall, yes, in the first few months, to maintain lactation, we recommend feeding on demand. Things change afterwards, with diversification and as the child grows.


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