12 answers

Working Moms: Feeding/Sleep Schedule

When you went back to work, did you put your baby on a set feeding/sleeping schedule? I'm headed back next week (unfortunately) and am not sure what to do.

My daughter will be 14 weeks next week, but she was a little premature so adjusted age is 8 weeks. I'd like to keep letting her eat & sleep on demand (she sleeps great at night, so no issues there), but not sure how to make it work along with pumping...I don't want to get so out of sync that I can't nurse her in the evenings/night/early morning, but I want her to be able to eat when she's hungry and not have to "wait" for her next feeding time.

Advice greatly appreciated!

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

It's been several months now, and my daughter is, for the most part, still an on-demand eater and sleeper. She goes down for the night around 7:30pm (give or take a half hour on either end) and eats 4-5 times/day, depending on how naps went that day. I pretty much tried to go with the flow, and she has continued to grow and gain weight well. It was hard to not stress about it, but reading the responses really helped. She seems pretty content, so I plan to continue doing this for a while, although I'll probably start trying to get her on some sort of napping schedule soon(ish). Thanks for the responses everyone!

Featured Answers

By 14 weeks, babies usually have thier own schedule, albeit erratic but it is still there. I suggest writing down when she eats and when she sleeps for the next couple of days and seeing what her schedule is and then pumping on her schedule.


More Answers

Way back in the dark ages when I had my son (now 23 years ole), there were no good, affordable breast pumps--the battery operated one I had took forever to pump and hurt--I only used it when I had to be out of town and away from my son. Since I pulled a muscle trying to deliver him (10 lb., 4 oz.) before they decided to do a c-section, the nurses in the hospital gave him formula during the night, so he was used to formula from the beginning. We continued to use formula when we were out, but I nursed him when we were home. I thought I would have to quit nursing when I went back to work, but a friend suggested doing what she had done with her daughter (and it worked!!!). I nursed my son in the morning before work and then tried to come straight home after work and nursed him then and again before bedtime. My body adjusted to not producing milk during the day. However, if I made any stops on the way home, I would leak and end up with a wet blouse. By doing this, I was able to nurse him for eight months, when he decided that he could get more from the bottle than from me--he let me know he no longer wanted to nurse by fussing and then biting (and he had lots of teeth). He ended up to be a very healthy kid--almost never missed school for illnesses.

I went back to work when my daughter was 4 months (she was 5 weeks early). She was on demand for feeding and naps then, and only went to a "schedule" for feeding when she entered a toddler program. As for pumping, it all depends on how responsive your body is to the pump. To keep up with my daughter I had to pump every 2 hours for the first few months back. I also pumped twice (each morning) over the weekend. Milk supply will respond to demand - your body will keep up with her if you are willing to keep nursing and pumping as much as she needs. If not, you can consider supplimenting. I'd rather supplement than try to put a tiny baby on a schedule.

I don't think a feeding schedule would decrease the amount of milk that your daughter would take, since she'd just be more hungry by the time she's fed. Plus, I am really, really worried about "schedules" for preemies, who need all the calories they can get.

Also, just a warning, be prepared for the 4-month sleep regression. It can be a whopper, especially when you work and can't nap with her.

I think the feeding and nap schedule will depend on her daycare situation. most places have a set schedule they usualy have 4 babies to one provider and so they have to have a certian nap time and eating times, My daughter went to daycare at 11 weeks and she adjusted to the schedule very quickly, I don't recall how often they fed the babies and exactly when the naps were, but it worked out fine and I was able to go at lunch and nurse her.
good luck

I haven't gone back to work yet, but put my kids on a feeding/sleeping schedule at around 3 months using the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. There used to be message boards at http://www.babywhispererforums.com/ but I can't get the website to come up, so I'm not sure if there are just technical issues or if the site is gone. The reason I mention the message boards there is because at 4 months the book says to switch your baby to a 4 hr feeding/sleeping schedule (from a 3 hr one), but I don't recall what it says about premature babies. You can always check it out from the library.
Best of luck,

I am a full time working mommy and went back to work when my first son was 16 weeks and than again when my second son was 7 mths, both very different situations, but I have found that letting a child eat on demand, rather than on a schedule worked really well for my children with the transition. I also was very fortunate to have a daycare provider who believed the same thing. I have heard stories of providers putting babies on the providers schedule which makes for a little bit of a parenting battle. Will your child be going to daycare? or staying with a family member?
Also I pumped at work, in our old nasty bathroom, and it worked really really well for keeping my baby on the breastmilk longer. Your supply will change....but it's up to you on how much by how much you decide to pump at work.

Good luck, feel free to ask questions if you'd like to know more, I never know how much to write on these things ha ha


By 14 weeks, babies usually have thier own schedule, albeit erratic but it is still there. I suggest writing down when she eats and when she sleeps for the next couple of days and seeing what her schedule is and then pumping on her schedule.


I want back to work when my son was 18 weeks old. I found that keeping a regular pumping schedule while at work was the only thing that worked for me. I would pump or nurse (depending on if he was awake or not) before leaving the nouse, and then pumped every two hours while at work. SO my basic day looked like this:

5:00 get up and get ready
6:00 nurse or pump
6:30 leave for work
7:00 arrive at work
8:00 pump
10:00 pump
12:00 pump
1:00 leave work (30 hour per week schedule)
1:30 pick up at daycare
2:00 Home nure/naptime for both of us
remainder of the 24 hours feeding on demand.

I always had pleanty of milk for the daycare and the every two hours schedule kept "the girls" producing more than enough for both the boy and the bottles.

For me the key to successful pumping at work was to take enough pump parts so that I didn't have to do any washing or sterilizing (huge time expenditures), and a pump that was easy to set up and put away. I got the Ameda pump first which was a great pump but a pain to set up, and then ended up with the Medela Pump-in-Style original (no real set up required). I got a "hands free" pumping bra and would take what I could work related into the pumping room to maximize my effectiveness. The other thing I did was put "appointments" on my calendar to reserve that time for pumping. Hope this helps!


As a general rule, your body should adjust to whatever schedule you end up on- if you currently feed on demand- it is already use to feeding being a little irregular so it should be no problem. When I returned to work I generally pumped three times at work during the 9 hours I was away from baby- I would feed when she first woke up- sometimes as soon as we got home and again at bedtime- and had no supply problems- the best thing you can do is try to stay on a consistent schedule (within 1/2 hour or so) for pumping at work. Hope this helps and makes sense.


I went back to work when my daughter was 4 months old. I nursed her before I left for work. Pumped at work 3 times a day. Nursed when I got home and at bedtime. We've always had to supplement with formula because I never produced enough milk. My daughter weaned herself off of breastfeeding at 10 months and she is a happy, healthy 15 month old now. Try not to over think or stress yourself with a strict schedule. Go with the flow and your body will know what to do. Take care.

Before I went back to work, I started paying attention to the times my son would get hungry and made that my schedule...when I went back to work he was 5 months old and was feeding about 6-8 times a day...i'd feed him as soon as i woke up, right before we left, he'd feed 3x while i was at work (and i made it a point to pump while he was feeding), then i'd feed him right before we left for home...i'd feed shortly after we got home then again before bed time...but eventually as he got older, he fed less frequently (thank goodness!) and it all became much more manageable. it takes some getting used to...but it all works out. goodluck!

I went back to work when my son was 7.5 weeks old. I breastfed on demand when I was home with him and when he went to daycare, I asked them to also feed him on demand. As for work, I have scheduled breaks so I ended up pumping every 3 hours, which is pretty much how frequent my son was feeding. In the end, I ended up with more milk than I needed - great for extra freezer store - because usually my son feeds from just one side whereas when I pump, I do both sides at once. You can also ask your daycare provider to please not feed after X time or feed only a small bottle to tie her over, so that you can nurse your daughter when you pick up. Your body will adjust to whatever feed/pump need that you. Good luck!

My baby ended up working out her own schedule. I went back when she was 12 weeks and I let her eat/sleep on demand. After about a month or two a regular schedule just worked itself out. She's 8 months old now and she still eats 2x at the exact same times at night - one time at 11:34pm and one time at 4:32am. Her daily schedule and napping time also worked itself out. I would recommend writing out the schedule so you can find her pattern. I still pump everyday at work around the same time I'd nurse her if I were at home. If for some reason I ran late one night and she had to have a bottle, I just pumped when I got home. Just be patient and find what works for you.

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