Baby Feeding Tips and Schedules
New Mom of 4 Month Old
Baby Feeding Doesn’t Have to Feel Complicated
Feeding a newborn is one of the most controversial topics out there for new mothers. With that being the case, it has us confused and second-guessing how we should be feeding. It shouldn’t feel that way!
I’ll break down a few common questions without bias and I hope this helps you find what’s best for you and your LiLHuman!
How soon after birth should I feed my baby?
You can actually start feeding your baby immediately after birth! If you are breastfeeding, the first couple of days your breasts will produce colostrum which is super nutrient dense and important for your newborn to intake!
What is the right position to feed a baby?
You’ll find that there are many positions to feed a baby. With breastfeeding specifically, you could play around with a few positions to find what works best for you and your baby. Those first couple of weeks, though, it may be easiest for you and baby to perfect the latch in an upright cradle position.
With formula feeding, it is best to hold your baby in an upright position and have the bottle parallel to the ground. This prevents your newborn from overeating and reduces air intake.
Is it normal for a newborn not to want to feed?
You may notice in the first 24-48 hours that your newborn isn’t wanting to feed or isn’t latching. Don’t stress! This is actually super common. Babies generally want to sleep at least the first 24 hours but sometimes even longer.
If you are feeling super stressed about it, practice skin-to-skin to encourage your baby to feed and take full advantage of your lactation consultant! In this time trust your baby’s natural instinct. Your baby is smarter than you think and if they need to eat, they will.
Save Your Sanity with Pumping Early
Try to pump in the morning when you put your baby down for his first nap and then again in the evening after his last feed. These are generally the best times for higher milk production, but if they don’t work with your schedule then one pump a day when you find the time is perfect!
What is Cluster Feeding and How it Can Benefit You (and your baby) 👍
Your LiLHuman is doing a whole lot of growing in these first couple months and with that growth comes some quirks. One of those quirks is cluster feeding! You’ll probably notice it happening when your baby is going through a growth leap.
Leaps are when your baby moves through big transitions. Something that may seem so simple to you – like grabbing things or smiling – is actually really huge to your baby! During these leaps, your baby will be so preoccupied with their own growth that their normal feeding routine will go out the door!
Your baby will feed in short bursts throughout the entire day with no real pattern. This is all totally normal and you shouldn’t worry. In fact, this helps boost your supply too, Mama! That way when your baby is done going through their leap, you can feed them the undoubtedly increased supply they’ll crave.
How to Survive Cluster Feeding Your Newborn
Cluster feeding can be stressful but remember – you are not alone.
Here are a few things you can do to help take the load off:
- Keep water and snacks handy
- Change positions often when breastfeeding to avoid soreness
- Set up a nursing area somewhere in your home where you are the most comfortable (book nook, in front of the TV, with a headset if podcasts are your jam)
- Ask for help! Reach out to friends or your partner. Have them bring you food or help with housework. You are not expected to do this alone!
- Keep communication open with your partner – you don’t want to have the added stress of an argument if unspoken expectations aren’t met
Cluster feeding can be really unpredictable so don’t feel like you are expected to be fully prepared! There are a couple things you can do to help ease the stress of it. I’ve touched base on this before but set up a feeding station somewhere comfortable. Make sure you have snacks, water and anything you may need to keep you sane.
Educate Your Partner ✏️
Avoid the added stress of arguing with your partner in the moment by educating them beforehand. Let them know what cluster feeding is and establish what the expectations are for you and them. This way you aren’t trying to explain all of this in the midst of it all!
Remember Newborn Growth Spurts Don’t Last Forever
You will find that you quickly learn when a growth spurt is happening and you’ll become a pro at spotting the signs in no time! When your baby enters a leap, it’s tough! Just remember it’ll be over before you know it and you’ll be on to the next stage of life.
Soak in those moments as much as you can – even when it feels hard. I have found The Wonder Weeks app super helpful as I have raised my son. It tells you when you can expect the hardest days and preps you for signs you’ll see in each growth spurt! Also, the Glow Baby app could be really useful if you want to keep track of your baby’s feedings!
Newborn Feeding Cues
Believe it or not, your baby’s instincts are already pretty top-notch. They know when they need food and they know how to tell you! In those first couple of weeks, don’t try to put your baby on a schedule – just keep an eye out for all the feeding cues he gives you.
I felt like one of the better pieces of advice my nurse gave me was to feed as soon as I saw cues and not to wait until he’s crying. Thankfully the cues are actually pretty easy to spot! I’ll break it down so that you know what to look for.
The earliest cues are hard to spot at first. You’ll soon learn that when your baby starts moving his hand to mouth or making mmm noises that’s him telling you he’s hungry! You can spot these even when he is asleep and can try to sleep feed him so that he doesn’t get fussy.
If he didn’t get your attention with those early cues, you’ll start to notice your baby moving his head from side to side and pursing his lips in search of a nipple. He will throw his hands to his mouth more actively and his eyes will start to open.
At last, the late hunger cues your baby gives you will be those of fussiness. He will be moving around a lot more and crying by this stage. Your baby needs to feed every 2-3 hours and sometimes even after you have just fed him he will fuss for more. Especially in those early weeks, try not to ignore your baby’s hunger cues!
Insight to a Baby Feeding "Chart" or Schedule 💡
Once you get past those first couple of weeks, you can finally start getting back into a routine. I think I started my son on a feeding schedule when he was about 2 months old. At that time, he was a little more aware of his surroundings.
He understood when night and day was and with that, I was able to establish a clear ‘play/ awake’ from a feed and then nap time. Setting a schedule at all is totally between you and your pediatrician but if you are interested I got you!
There are tons of schedules out there but my husband and I use the “Moms On Call” book by Lauren Hunter and Jennifer Walker. It gives a basic layout of what a schedule should look like but you can tweak it to you and your baby’s needs.
Newborn (0 to 2 Months)
At last, the late hunger cues your baby gives you will be those of fussiness. They will be moving around a lot more and crying by this stage. Your baby needs to feed every 2-3 hours and sometimes even after you have just fed them they will fuss for more. Especially in those early weeks, try not to ignore your baby’s hunger cues!
2 to 4 Months
Once that awareness is very evident, your LiLHuman will be around 2 months old. Then you can start trying to incorporate some sort of routine into your schedule and try to get that baby sleeping through the night! I used the pattern I noticed from his early stages and the Moms On Call book to make a schedule that worked best for my boy.
This is our schedule shared directly from my notes, that way you can see what it looks like:
Baby will be drinking 5-6 oz per feed.
- When days are crazy just be sure to at LEAST do the times with * in front of them
- NO naps longer than 1.5 hrs, set an alarm to get him up if you fear he will sleep through. Let’s try to get him napping in his crib or bassinet now instead of the swing. (Catnap is the only nap that should be done in the swing)
6 Months and Older
Here’s the schedule we will be using for my boy:
Baby will be drinking 6-8 oz bottles. The sippy cup will have 2-4 oz.
- When days are crazy just be sure to at LEAST do the times with * in front of them
- Baby should be napping, sleeping and sleeping through the night in crib at this point
There are so many different adaptations to a baby schedule out there. The most important thing is that you are communicating with your pediatrician and that your baby is getting his needs fulfilled.Source: Moms On Call by Lauren Hunter and Jennifer Walker
Breastfeeding Tips From Real Parents
Bottle-Feeding Hacks Every New Parent Should Know
Bottle feeding is an absolute necessity for the working mom. That and of course the formula-feeding mom. There are so many perks of it for even the stay at home mom, like giving dad a chance to bond with the baby by feeding or giving mom a break from breastfeeding. It can even be useful to introduce your baby to a bottle earlier so that you can prepare him for sippy cups (come 4-6 months)! Whatever your reason for bottle-feeding, I’ll go over a few hacks that will make it a breeze.
Stay Committed to One Brand of Bottles and Consider Which Nipple to Use
To avoid nipple confusion, try to stick to one brand of bottles! My best advice is to test a few at first and find what your baby likes best. Breast shaped bottles are great for moms who are also breastfeeding and try to find bottles that allow for easy air release. Do your research and maybe invest in a bottle box from somewhere like Babylist that has a few options you can try before you commit to one brand. Then when you commit – commit!
Prepare For Serious Burping and Gas 🥴
Even when you get bottles that release air you get gas. It’s inevitable but the easy solution is lots of burping! If you notice your baby getting fussy on the bottle then burp him. Try to prevent gas by pace feeding your baby with the bottle level to the ground. Pediatricians do not tell you that there is any scientific proof that gripe water works for gas but, as a mama, I’m gonna tell you to have it on deck! It was a lifesaver for us.
Feed On-the-Go Like a Pro (Parent Hack)
Ever heard of a pump you can wear, walk around (in public even) hands-free and it’s not noticeable at all?
The craziest breast pump I’ve ever seen was released in recent years that actually mocks the shape of your breast so you can wear it in your bra!
The science behind the Willow Pump is to mimic the suction of your LiLHuman rather than the normal ‘tug and release’ effect of other breast pumps. The more natural suction is not only quieter but it actually helps increase your pumped milk supply by 20%!
As far as classic pumps go, the Willow is probably second best to actually putting baby to breast!
Create a Bottle Station Before Your Baby Arrives
Have your bottle warmer, formula, and all of your bottle-feeding necessities in one place. This makes those night feeds 10X easier and it will reduce your stress tremendously to not have to search for what you need.
Is Formula Feeding Easier?
The ever-popular controversial topic for mothers: is formula feeding easier? Honestly, I don’t have a great answer for that because there isn’t one good answer for it. Hear me out. Every mom is different. Our bodies and our minds are different. Our babies and their needs are different. No two moms will have the same experience. Some may have better luck with formula and some may have better luck with breastfeeding. The most important thing is that you are taking care of yourself, Mama! Do what is easiest for you, whatever it is.
In light of answering the question, though, I’ll share my real experience! I went into the hospital prepared with a pump and everything I would need to exclusively pump. I knew I wanted to feed my baby breast milk but for personal reasons, I didn’t want to put him to breast. I pumped his colostrum at the hospital and fed him frequently and I honestly couldn’t keep up. He was such a hungry baby. We brought our own readily prepared baby formula (I read nurses were judgey – and they were, but I was going to do what was best for me) and I continued to pump.
By the end of the hospital, I was pumping enough to feed the baby. I took full advantage of my lactation consultation and asked her all the questions I could before we packed up to go home. Once we were back home I was finding it hard to keep up with him again. So, we supplemented with one formula bottle a day. Those long nights where he would cry and cry we would wake up and go warm up a bottle. His dad would feed him and I would pump.
I think it was when Ezra (my son) was about 2 weeks old – he woke up one night hungry and he was crying and I was exhausted and my husband was preparing a formula bottle but the three minutes it takes to make a bottle felt so long when our boy was crying. I just held him close and brought him to my breast, he latched instantly and I was kicking myself for not doing it before. There’s a lot more between that moment and now, like keeping in touch with my lactation consultant and learning a whole new way to feed. Long story short- breastfeeding was easier and is easier for me now months later. But that’s me. Mama, what’s easier for you?
How to Combination Feed Your Baby
If you are primarily using breastmilk, just feed as usual and then let one feed be a formula bottle and you can pump during that feed to get a stock going. Another way to combination feed is if you are a working mom and you are only pumping 4oz bottles but your baby needs 6oz (this is an example), then you can feed the baby the 4 oz bottle of breast milk first then follow up with a formula bottle for the final 2 ounces!