As adults, we are constantly operating on schedules. Wake up at 7:00, get to work by 8:00, eat lunch between 12:00 and 1:00, get home at 6:00, start dinner by 7:00, and hit the hay by 11:00. We rarely break out of these routines, and we follow them because they actually make our lives easier. When you bring home your newborn, you’ll be tempted to get into a routine, especially with feeding.

It makes sense to establish a feeding pattern with your infant. If you start feeding him at the same time every day, you’ll know exactly when to get ready, and eventually, his body will be hungry at the right times. This makes a lot of sense to us, but babies simply do not make life that easy.

Your baby will have his own schedule, and it will not be organized at all. He will be hungry at different times every day because he is growing every day with no concept of time. He doesn’t know about lunchtime, and he will simply be hungry whenever he wakes up from a long nap. There is no predicting his schedule, so you need to get used to going with the flow for now.

Experts say that after three months, you can start trying to get into a feeding routine. That’s when their circadian rhythms start to kick in and they’ll start getting used to the day-to-day schedule that adults follow.

Even though a feeding schedule seems like it would be easier, it’s extremely important that you watch for your baby’s cues and avoid trying too hard to change his needs to meet a schedule. By making your baby wait too long for food, he will get cranky, and the feeding process will be much harder. For the first few months, you simply need to give your baby what he wants when he wants it, no questions asked.

As your baby starts to get older, don’t create a feeding schedule by making him wait for his lunch. Instead, make the rest of his day structured. Always wake him up at the same time, take him for a walk at the same time, and put him in his bouncy chair at the same time. That way, his body will get used to the events of the day, and he will naturally get hungry on a schedule that you can work with.

Source: Rachel Cramton et al: Optimizing Successful Breastfeeding in the Newborn. Current Opinion in Pediatrics Volume 21 Issue 3 pp. 386-396 June 2009

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