Why your baby is feeding non-stop

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Feeding a newborn baby is exhausting, especially if you’re breastfeeding! New parents can expect to feed their newborn baby at least eight times every 24 hours (for more info, see this Dr. Pam Q&A).

Most newborns feed every 3-4 hours, however some may need to feed as often as every two hours (see this Dr. Pam Q&A). This can be hard if you need to start each two hours from the time you started your last feeding, not two hours from the time you finish the last feeding… meaning you may have an hour or less between the time baby has finished feeding and the time you need to start the next one.

Our feeding and sleep program recommends feeding newborns every 2.5 to 3.5 hours to help create flexibility for parents and consistent meal times. But for a variety of reasons your baby may not be ready right away (more about when to start here). You should always consult with your baby’s healthcare provider first.

I had to feed my first baby every 1.5 to 2 hours for health reasons which was not easy exclusively breastfeeding/expressing milk. It was such a relief when my physician gave me the okay to feed every three hours. Feeding my second baby every three hours from day one was much easier.

Below are five common reasons why your baby may be feeding so frequently. 

1. Health reasons

As mentioned above, you should only start to feed in 2.5 to 3.5 hour intervals when you get the okay from your baby’s healthcare provider to feed that often.

Your baby may need to feed more frequently, especially as a newborn, to help treat health concerns like blood glucose issues, dehydration, jaundice, or to make sure baby is gaining enough weight

2. It’s your preference

There is no one parenting approach that works for everyone. If feeding more frequently or demand feeding when baby wants to feed works best for you, go for it!

3. Habits

Habits can form in as little as a day or two. If you’re interested in a feeding and sleep schedule, keep in mind that your baby doesn’t know what breakfast, lunch, dinner times are until they learn — they’ll follow your lead if you guide them.

If you’re transitioning to longer periods between feedings, your baby may wake up at night to feed out of habit even if they aren’t hungry (even if their diaper is dry and clean) just for a cuddle. Babies are smart and it’s easy to get wrapped around their cute little fingers! For tips to help stay on track and avoid certain habits, read this post.

4. Growth spurts

You should always feed your baby when they are hungry! Even if your baby has been consistently feeding every three hours, there may be times that you need to feed them more often. If your baby is going through a growth spurt, they may finish a full feeding then wake up hungry 1.5 hours later for another full feeding! Find out when to expect growth spurts here

5. They’re not getting enough milk

Another reason your baby may need to feed more often is because they are not getting enough milk, causing them to wake up from sleep to feed every hour or two. This could be caused by a few things. For example, Mom may not be producing enough milk, baby may be lethargic (sleeps too much), or baby may not be latching to your breast properly. If you’re bottle feeding, make sure the hole in the nipple is large enough so that the milk flows for them — formula tends to be thicker than breastmilk so over time you may need a larger round hole in the nipple or “y” tip.

One girlfriend told us that her baby was not getting enough milk at feedings because of a tongue tie and couldn’t latch properly. Baby would exhaust himself trying to breastfeed and fall asleep on her. It wasn’t until the issue was fixed that he was able to latch properly and finish a full feeding within an hour or so (i.e., the band of tissue below the tongue was surgically cut by baby’s physician, which also took a few weeks to heal). 

Consult with your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about your baby’s health (including if you think they’re sleeping too much), or if you have breastfeeding concerns such as latching or supply.

Find out how to extend your baby’s feeding times to every three hours (from every two hours or less) here.

Top 5 sleep routine (and sleep training) tips for parents with small children

Top 5 sleep routine (and sleep training) tips for parents with small children

After many tears, trial and error, I'm happy to say that my three boys consistently sleep well each night. When you have more than one baby you quickly realize how truly individual each child is. Some children are more spirited than others, and each one has different needs and bedtime negotiation tactics! As parents, we know there isn't always one answer for all kids. 

After trying many sleep training methods with my second child and none of them working, I knew I didn't want to risk more sleepless nights with my third. I used the Calmmother feeding and sleep program to transition my third baby on a good sleep routine. It is much easier to gently put your baby on a sleep routine when it's the only thing they know, compared to breaking the well-established sleep habits of a toddler, preschooler or school-aged child. 

Our top 5 tips for sleep training babies over one year, toddlers and small children are below.

Read More

3 things to create a consistent bedtime routine for children

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I can still remember my three boys were all under the age of 4 and putting them to bed. Developing and following a consistent feeding and sleep routine was an absolute necessity (mostly to preserve my sanity!). Even though my boys are older now, our bedtime schedule hasn't changed very much. Me being out of the house for an evening doesn't have an impact on our well-established bedtime routine because they know the drill.

These are our top 3 tips for creating and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine for children.

1.     Create bedtime routine ASAP! 

Hopefully you've figure out what sleep habits work for you and your family when your baby is a newborn or soon after. This is particularly helpful if you also have older children with their own scheduled activities. Know what is convenient and your preferences in terms of after school activities, your bedtime routine (dinner, playtime, bath time, snack time and story time), and what bedtime and breakfast times fit within your family's schedule.

If you have more then one child with varied age gaps, you may want to choose a bedtime routine starting point that is based on the youngest child. For example, if you have a a 15 month old and a 4 year old and bedtime for the 15 month old is 7pm, consider having the 4 year old start quiet time at 7pm, either playing quietly or reading in their room and go down for bed at 7:30pm. Staggering bedtimes helps mom and dad out and also allows for each child to get some individual parent time. 

2.     Be consistent

Whatever sleep routine you choose, make sure that you are executing it in the same order every night as often as possible. Little children do well when they know what is expected and what is coming up next. So having a snack follower by bath time, brushing teeth, story and then bedtime allows them to know what to expect next (and also less whining and asking for things outside of the routine).

3.     Do not negotiate

If you give an inch, they may try to take a mile. If you build a snack, drink of water or potty into the bedtime rountine your child can't ask to get out of bed for the toilet, a bedtime snack or a drink after you have put them to bed.

For potty training purposes, transitioning to a small snack before bed rather than a drink can be helpful to avoid accidents at night. See this post about potty training.

Visit our FAQs page about feeding and sleep for babies and children.