Children, teens and adults typically eat three meals a day at the same general time each day. This is not how baby eats. When breastfeeding, schedule is not as important as flexibility. Breastfeeding mothers need to be ready and willing to adapt to baby’s need as those needs are constantly changing. Infants grow at an alarming rate and their stomachs are extremely small. Frequent feedings are more necessary with breastfed babies than bottle fed babies and often baby will change up the feeding schedule to meet his own needs.

Is There No Rhyme or Reason to When Baby Breastfeeds?

Infants are born with a natural sense of hunger. When they are hungry they want to breastfeed. When they aren’t hungry, they stop eating. Breastfeeding schedules will vary widely depending on the physical activity and growth rate of your infant. Remember, that tiny tummy holds only a small amount of breastmilk. If baby is exceptionally active one day, they may feed every hour or two hours. If baby is not as active the next day, three hours could pass between feedings. Alternatively, if baby is having a growth spurt, they could feed more often than when grow is slower.

Setting Up A Breastfeeding Schedule to Monitor Feedings

Life outside the womb is new to baby. Many mothers want to set-up a breastfeeding schedule for personal reasons, but baby will not adapt to that schedule even if you spend hours planning everything out. You can, however, use a whiteboard or sheet of paper to track feeding times and duration. This information could come in handy if baby is inexplicably cranky and you can’t remember that last time baby fed.

Feeding Based on a Breastfeeding Schedule May Ruin Your Schedule

If you try to feed baby every two hours on the dot, you may find baby is crankier and fussy between meals. Babies are naturally drawn to the breast. If you introduce the breast by the clock, baby will likely latch and feed, but it could just be a snack. An hour later when hunger sets in, your schedule says it’s not time to feed and you’re left wondering why baby is cranky.

Will Baby Ever Adhere to a Breastfeeding Schedule?

Yes, eventually as baby grows, feedings will become more patterned. You can use a breastfeeding schedule to plan when to expect baby to feed, but again variations will happen. Think of your schedule as a loose guideline for feedings and be ready to feed in between scheduled times if baby desires.