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.
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!
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.
Growing up I was lactose intolerant and still don’t eat dairy. I introduced dairy to my son as a baby and it seems to agree with him. He is now a year and a half and drinks about three cups of milk a day. Because he also gets dairy from other sources like cheese and yogurt, I started making plant-based hemp milk to mix it up.Read More
Eating healthy isn't always easy! Of course there will be days you do not eat optimally, we are all human after all and life happens. Try your best to have a great diet 80-90% of the time and be gentle on yourself the other times.
The core of a healthy diet includes the following:
- fresh vegetables (colourful, leafy green, cruciferous, etc.)
- whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, steel cut oats)
- legumes/beans (chick peas, lentils, all types of beans)
- nuts/seeds (tree nuts, hempseeds, flaxseeds, chiaseeds, sunflower, etc.)
- certain meats (free range when possible especially poultry, and certain fish - wild, cooked, and low on list for contaminate – see www.EWG.org or https://davidsuzuki.org for lists).
Here are some strategies to help maintain a healthy diet:
1. Prepare foods in more wholesome ways
Try using healthy ingredients and cooking oils like coconut oil instead of highly processed, hydrogenized oils; extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are also good options. If wanting to speed up with the cooking process by using canned foods, ensure the product you buy has BPA-free lining or choose frozen vegetables. Avoid microwaving if you can especially for long periods as this depletes important nutrients from our food.
2. Eliminate junk and highly processed foods & eat more fresh vegetables (and fruit)
Eating junk food is throwing away an opportunity for healthy calories, not to mention money. Pre-packaged foods are actually more expensive then fresh foods.
3. Ask for support
There will be days that you just don’t feel like cooking, reach out to your community. Humans are naturally social and it is way more fun to eat together then alone. Some communities even take turns to cook, one house hold is responsible for dinner then the next night the next one does the cook. Just make sure there is enough leftovers for everyone.
4. Read labels
If you can’t pronounce it, it probably is not good for you! There are many foods that contain hidden sugars, way too much salt, and chemicals dyes and additives. There are great resources online and apps that can help you understand what is written on the label.
5. Keep track of what you're eating
A great way to get started is by creating a list of foods that you currently eat, then add in foods that will provide more nutrition or will make the meal more nutritious. For example, instead of spaghetti noodles use a spaghetti squash and add diced veggies to the sauce. Adding an avocado to a smoothie instead of flavoured yogurt creates a creamy texture without the excess sugar.
Check out our nutrition tips, recipes and meal plans.
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