23 answers

How Often to Feed a 5 Week Old

OK. SO I am dad, not a mom. However, I have a serious question. We have a 5-6 week old son. He eats about ###-###-####cc of Formula a day. Breast milk is not an option.

The issue is this. He can be very inconsistent in his feedings, especially at night. For example, last night I fed him at 5:AM. 100cc, which is a pretty good meal. Put him down to sleep at about 5:20. About an hour later he is up again . After some comforting, he goes back to sleep for a little while but is up again around 7:30, but only takes about 50cc and goes back to sleep. This of course does not satisfy him for long and he is up again at 8:30.

My wife and are are debating whether it is a good idea to make the baby WAIT to be fed. Small meals like 50cc, after all don't seem to sate him for very long or allow him to sleep.

On a related not, is it possible for the baby to be too tired to eat properly??? This assumes of course that he is already awake and feeding. We do NOT wake the baby just to feed it.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Dear J., Although it has been a long time for me, babies at 5-6 weeks are pretty much on demand. They do need their sleep as much as their food. When he is awake you may try keeping him awake to eat some more so he will sleep a bit longer. I was told to tickle or tap baby's foot. It may take time but baby will be on a better schedule. Life outside is as new to him as his being here is to you. Hang in there, best wishes, Grandma Mary

I would just do what you are doing. At 5 weeks they
are very inconsistent. Give him some time and it will
work itself out. It also sounds like after he sleeps
for a bit a 5AM, he is ready to start his day by 7AM.

Yes sometimes they are just too tired to eat. You sound
right on top of things, so just go with what he wants.
Congratulations.

More Answers

i am a nurse and a new mom and here is what i have figured out. 1. a 5 week old is way to little to be on a feeding sleeping schedule. they eat and sleep when they feel the need. that is why us moms are so delirious most days and nights. the baby will eventually around 2-3 months set own schedule. by 6 months baby is capable of sleeping all night (5 hours stretch) until then...unless you have a really great sleeper, you will be up every 1.5 - 3 hours to feed. it is exhausting but that goes along with the gift of being a parent to this precious baby. as a nurse i can tell you this...baby will go through several rapid growth spurts... 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 6 weeks are the quickest. then it swaps to 2 months, 6 months, and 8 months. during this transition stage...baby will wake up much more often and eat what seems like an excessive amount on an irregular schedule. baby has no desire to over eat (like we grownups do) so if he/she is still hungry...then they are REALLY hungry whether it is 100cc or 50cc. i promise with time it will straighten out...just in time for teething when you will once again be up all night :) enjoy every second of it...it flies by! hope this helps from a parent/nursing perspective.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh he will continue like this for a while. My 8 week old is like this too. Sometimes he wants to eat and eat and other times just a little. You'll start getting a sense of whether it's a big or small feed, but I wouldn't make him wait...don't wake him unless it's been more than 3 1/2 to 4 hours since his last feed. As long as he has 8-10 wet diapers and 3-4 poopy ones in a day he's fine.

1 mom found this helpful

Please - DON'T make him wait for his food - you are his parents and are his only way to get his needs met. Don't try to structure your beautiful baby - this is what having a baby is all about.
Please- please make sure you give the baby what he needs WHEN he needs it - this will build a baby that trusts that his parents love him and will make sure that he is well taken care of.
He is only 5 weeks old - this is a change in your life - GO with it - enjoy him.
Many good wishes to you,
Celia

Newborns can be very confusing, especially when it comes to eating and sleeping. My son wanted to nurse every hour for the first month. Very exhausting and confusing because he would usually just fall asleep in the middle of the feeding. He is trying to work through his waking and sleeping and also he needs lots of conforting at this age. Feed him whenever he is hungry, even if he only eats a little. Also, bear in mind that he might also just want to be cuddled. Some babies have a very strong nursing instict (like my son who hated the bottle). Assuming he is gaining weight and otherwise happy, try not to stress because it will work itself out shortly enough.

I'm a mom of two (my little guy is 4 months)...and unfortunately, for a 5 week old, it's too early to put your baby on a schedule. They generally go on more predictable feeding schedules around 12 weeks. I always did 'on demand' feeding (and for a 5 week old, it usually worked out to every hour & 1/2 to 2 hours, and then stretched to two & 1/2 to 3 by 10 weeks), and I think most pediatricans would agree that this is way to early to make a baby 'wait to eat.' As far as the night goes...all babies whether breast fed or bottle fed go through the phase where they are hungry in the middle of the night, but are just too sleepy to get a good feed...you just have to go with it! It's exhausting, I know...but it will end soon enough. I know you said you didn't want to wake the baby to feed, but one thing I always found helpful was before my husband went to bed (he stays up later than me), he would wake the baby (even if it was 11 pm) with a little bath, so the baby was really awake and then get a good feed in then. Sometimes you can get a 3 hour stretch after that, and as the baby gets older - even 4/5 hours. Accrding to my pediatrician, most babies don't start sleeping through the night until 3 months or about 13-15 lbs.

Dear J., Although it has been a long time for me, babies at 5-6 weeks are pretty much on demand. They do need their sleep as much as their food. When he is awake you may try keeping him awake to eat some more so he will sleep a bit longer. I was told to tickle or tap baby's foot. It may take time but baby will be on a better schedule. Life outside is as new to him as his being here is to you. Hang in there, best wishes, Grandma Mary

I would just do what you are doing. At 5 weeks they
are very inconsistent. Give him some time and it will
work itself out. It also sounds like after he sleeps
for a bit a 5AM, he is ready to start his day by 7AM.

Yes sometimes they are just too tired to eat. You sound
right on top of things, so just go with what he wants.
Congratulations.

Please don't make the baby wait. Just trust that your baby will let you know what he needs exactly when he needs it. He is growing rapidly, both in body and brain, and also trying to adjust to his new environment. Remember too that their tiny stomachs can only hold a few tablespoons at this age, so it may seem like he's eating "too often." At this age, and for a long time after, "a baby's wants are a baby's needs," as they say. Meaning, they aren't savvy enough to manipulate or trick you--if they seem to be hungry, they need food, seem to be tired, they need sleep, etc. Once I took these ideas to heart, it actually was very freeing, because I didn't have to worry about how much or how often the baby was eating. Just roll with it and take his lead, follow his cues. You can't go wrong then.

At only 5 weeks, you need to feed him as much as he wants when he wants it. After all, that is what he was used to in the womb. The feedings will regulate themselves over time. Congratulations on your new son !!!

Hi J.! congrats on the new baby! I am a RN on the maternity floor of a local hospital, so I am pretty knowledgeable on newborns (at least I think so!! LOL) I would say to WAKE the baby every 3 hours during the day to feed him. Babies can give you usually ONE stretch of sleep (and by stretch that may only be 4 hours) but you want that stretch at night when you are sleeping. I woke my kids every three hours during the day to feed and they slept great at night!! I would also suggest trying to hold him off to the three hour mark in hopes that he would take more formula at that feeding. Obviously if he is inconsolable, feed him, but if taking a pacifier or cuddling soothes him see if he can wait a bit..
good luck!! it gets better, but different challenges lay ahead!! :)

Babies eat on demand at this age. That could be snack size or meal size. But they follow what their bodies tell them, so you could set yourself up for food issues down the road if you try to control it too much right now. Don't worry, this weird pattern will not last forever, but will come back in the toddler years.

J.,

Congratulations! How wonderful you are to try to figure this out!

Your baby is telling you when he is hungry. He isn't ready to be on a schedule yet, and this early is too early for the 3 meal a day plan. This is the part of parenting that is exhausting. Nap when he naps. Freeze meals ahead of time for yourselves so you can warm them up and relax with your baby.

You'll get all kinds of advice, but waiting this out is the best way to go. Just give him what he needs. His tummy isn't that big, and may actually be having a problem processing the formula.

Does he have other symptoms? Is he waking up gassy? Is he waking up simply hungry? Is he waking up simply wanting to cuddle? It's hard but all those things need to be met!

A baby knows when it needs to eat. Your son duly informing you. :)

On a different part of your note: If your son is not gaining weight - or goes down to eating tiny portions altogether day and night, you might be asked to wake the baby to eat.

There may be an underlying problem (soy, milk, gluten sensitivity (and yes, you can have a gluten sensitivity to milk!)) that is stopping him from eating so much in one shot (There isn't much room in the stomach (about the size of a marble shooter at that age because breastmilk is made to go right on through; formula needs a little extra work).

Contact your pediatrician by all means - and keep an open mind - your son may simply be needing more than just food - attention might be the reason too. Babies thrive on attention - and gain weight too!

A lot more stuff if you have questions - just email.

Good luck,
M.

Hi J.,
Congratulations on the new baby! I don't know how much your baby is eating, how cc's compares to ounces and I'm more familiar with breastfeeding anyway, but here's what I can tell you. We think of newborn babies as helpless and needing us to make all of their decisions because they don't know anything. What your baby DOES know, and knows better than you, is when he is hungry and how much he needs to eat. Both breastfed and formula fed babies may not eat consistently. Your baby is not a machine, who is fed at regular intervals around the clock in exact amounts. I would not make a hungry baby wait to eat. It's not going to satisfy him to wait, it will make him scream. It will not benefit him to wait, nor will it benefit him to eat the exact same amount at timed intervals - you're thinking maybe of what would be convenient for you and your wife, but this is about your baby's nutrition. He should be fed when he indicates that he is hungry. He knows how much he needs to eat, it's not something you need to decide for him. He sounds like a very typical newborn! Good luck and enjoy him!

Does he fall asleep while eating. If so this is a good time to stop this habit. My kids were about 4 wks old when I did this. If he starts to fall asleep while eating, stop and wake him back up. Also, try introducing a pacifier. It may just be that he needs to suck to help him fall back asleep. And he really isn't hungry. Babies suck to soothe themselves and you may be confusing the need feel secure with the need to eat. If he's only taking 50cc he may not really be hungry, try giving a pacifier instead.

Don't ever make him wait to be fed! When he's hungry, he's hungry! I have a 6 week old baby girl and she's taking 4 oz every 3-4 hours, more or less. They're much too young to be on any type of schedule. My son is 2.5 years old and we're still trying to figure HIM out! :) You just need to go by what they need. All they know how to do is eat and sleep--cut him some slack!
Congrats on the new baby!
L.

If you really have a problem you should ask your Pediatrician.

J. -

I see you have gotten a lot of responses already, and I'm not sure if someone already suggested this, but I wanted to mention it because it helped tremendously when someone suggested it to me after my first child was born. Feed your baby when he wakes up - then you will know that he is (or should be) hungry and not tired. When he is doesn't want anymore, stop feeding. Next is play time. But not a lot - I think I got in maybe 15 min with my daughter at that age (all depends on how long the feeding lasts) before she started showing signs of being tired (eye rubbing, yawning, etc.). Those are signs that it's time for a nap. Don't wait until he's crying and fussy - it will make going to sleep harder. I think she had maybe an hour and 15 or 30 minutes of awake time between naps at that age.

So that's the routine: Sleep - Wake up - Feed - Play - Sleep. The idea is for the baby to be awake and not tired during the feeding, so he doesn't fall asleep while feeding and then potentially not eat enough to be able sleep for a decent amount of time. Have a routine like this also helps you to differentiate between signs of hunger vs. tired, etc. Before I started doing things this way, I found that I was feeding my daughter all the time because I thought her fussiness was due to hunger, but it probably was that she was tired (and then would promptly fall asleep during the feeding - so I was trapped!). Give it a try. I started doing this when my daughter was about 6 weeks, and it made everything go much more smoothly after that. It's hard at 5am because you want more sleep, but if you do this routine all during the day, hopefully it will help. Good luck and congrats! (and everything will get easier too, don't worry)

A.

Hi J.,

At that age, babies should be fed when hungry. I would not wait to feed him. It does not matter how much they eat each time they eat. They will let you know when they are full, or hungry again.

I nursed my daughter, and she ate on demand - I know how you feel. I felt like all I did was feed her for the first 2-4 months. That is all they really do at that age anyway, eat and sleep.

Good luck, and don't worry. Follow your instincts!

Happy New Year,
L.

Hi, it sounds like you're on top of things. I agree with one of the mothers there who said she has 4 children. Babies at that age are inconsistent. He will eventually have a time set for you to know what he wants and when. You both will eventually learn what he wants by his cries. If it's gas, it's a pain cry, if he just wants comforting, you'll notice the sound of it.Right now, his stomach is a size of a walnut and you don't want to make him eat when he doesn't. He'll eat when he wants and he'll sleep when he wants. The only time I had to wake up my oldest when that young was when he was a preemie because he would sleep 24/7 and he was soooo small. After some time, he finally woke up and cried when he was hungry. He was a great baby and didn't fuss or cry much. If he was tired, he just go to sleep. The other two were different, but blessings as well. He may need comforting, or he may have gas so enjoy him while he's little. It may seem that it's forever and never get any sleep, but I have learned and seen that they grow up fast. Take pictures of him here and there if you can so you can go back and see the growth in him. You're doing great and keep it up. We, as parents, learn about our children AND ourselves through raising our children because they did not come with an instruction....thank goodness because then we will take the time to learn and grow and play and teach our children!! God entrusted those precious gifts to us, let's do what we are called to do by God Almighty! Congrats on your baby!!

J.,

Its nice to see a dad here, good for you for being involved in your child's care. Moms need help, especially with newborns.

The previous posters got it right on the nose. At 5 weeks you need to feed the baby when he's hungry, they are still way too young to put on a schedule. You also do not need to wake a baby to feed him unless its been about 4 hours.

Some babies will skip a night time feeding at around 2 months old, so you will get a loger stretch of sleep. Its exhausting, but this is temporary. They will grow out of things so fast and move on to something else, just to keep you on your toes.

Good luck. I hope you and your wife get some sleep soon.
Happy New Year!
R

Hi J.,

Congrats on the new baby! I agree with the other responses in regard to not to make your baby wait to feed just to get a bigger meal into him. He knows how hungry he is and at his age should be eating every 2 1/2 to 4 hours depending on how much he weighs and how big the last meal was. Don't let him go longer than 4 hours between meals & wake him up if you have to. If he isn't eating that much for a particular meal, try to keep him awake longer to get more formula in. I had 4 children and each was different. Enjoy him while he is little as it doesn't last very long.
Happy New Year!

A.
www.DontPayDayCare.com

My suggestion would be to actually try to keep him awake instead of letting him fall back to sleep right away. Just use a toy or a cool face cloth to keep him awake an extra few minutes to get a little more food into him before he goes back to sleep. Only do this when you know he's actually hungry. Remember that sucking soothes the baby to sleep, which can mean that baby falls asleep before he's actually full.
Question though, is he actually hungry? Would a soother accomplish the same task? He may just like to suck and may not need the food at all for some of those small feedings. If he's hungry the soother will annoy him and you'll know he wants to eat. If not the soother should be enough to put him back to sleep.
I definitely would not wake him to feed unless its been more than 4 hours and I would not make him wait. Feeding on demand is necessary at this stage.
Hope that helps!

My babies were each in the NICU for a while after birth even though they were full term. In the hospital they did have the babies on an every 3 hours or every 4 hours schedule (they changed the schedule a half hour at a time). They did let the babies cry for a while if it was way early but fed them up to 30 minutes before a scheduled feeding. They also really pushed to finish a full feeding and would try and keep a baby awake to finish their meal. The Baby Whisperer book has a similar plan to do at home.

I was not this structured at home but it did work to get the baby on a schedule. In the hospital they would also wake a baby up to eat. In my experience the only good time to wake a baby to eat is if the baby has been sleeping an hour or two already and you wake them up to feed them right before you go to sleep yourself. Usually changing the diaper gets the baby awake enough to eat a a medium or small meal while half asleep. It is worth it to get you a few more hours undisturbed sleep before the baby wakes you up hungry. My kids did sleep through the rest of the night after a 11 pm or midnight feeding to 6 or 7 am by 3-4 months age. They ate mostly formula.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.