How Often Should a Baby Eat?

Updated on January 05, 2011
S.L. asks from East Providence, RI
14 answers

So I have heard many things on how to feed a baby. I have heard you are supposed to feed them every 3-4 hours and then others have told me never wake a sleeping baby they will tell you when they want to eat. As a new mom I thought that as a newborn they were supposed to eat every 3 hours around the clock so I was waking up my baby in the middle of the night to feed her. The dumbest thing but hey I learned my lesson. Now she is 3 weeks old and I wake her up during the day every 3 hours but pray that she sleeps at night but she still wakes up every 3 hours like clock work. I hope that I didn't set some sort of pattern for her.
I know it is going to take her awhile to sleep through the night but what is the proper way to feed babies and is there anyway to break her from the 3 hour cycle at night. I feel if I let her sleep too much during the day she won't sleep at night?????

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answers from Providence on

I am also a new mom and although the hospital told me to wake my son to feed him, i never did. I fed him on demand and let him tell me when he is hungry. You start to be able to tell the difference in their cry and know what they want. There are definate ups and downs to scheduled feeding. My sister in law did scheduled feedings and I think it gets the baby on a schedual easier as they get older on the other hand the baby would cry cause she was hungry and she would have her wait as long as she could because it wasn't time for her to eat yet, so it really depends on the person. However I still would not wake her if she is sleeping longer at night that is good for her and you enjoy the sleep while you can get it. Hope this helps.


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answers from Boston on

Hi I am a mom of 13 month old twins they have slept through the night since 2 months and have always eaten at the same time. at first I did feed ondemand and took notes on when they were norm hungry and they had there own pattern. so i built around that and I also read the book call the sleep lady and it tells you the right sleep amount and when they need naps and how long and it worked so fast. so I would try to hold the baby off during the day a little longer that 2 hours (not a lot because you will go nuts with a cryin baby) but try to go and extra half hour and then keep stretching it. you will be able to tell what is natural for you and the baby. good luck and be patient it will happen



answers from New York on

First off are you formula or breastfeeding. Because it makes a difference. Breastfed babies usually feed every 2 hours. Formula fed go longer. I breastfed my son and I never woke him. She will let you know when she's hungry. There is no need to wake her up to feed. Every 3-4 hours is approximate times not exact. Your daughters digestive tract is still adjusting to eating on it's own and it's only the size of her fist. It may take her longer to digest what she's given. If you continue to wake her to eat you'll regret it in the long run. Also, most babies don't sleep through the night until their 6 mos old or so. She will sleep. Be thankful for 3 hours, I was up every 2. It won't be long before she misses a feeding and you'll freak out. That's all they do right, sleep and poop. By making her stay up more during the day won't make her sleep more at night, she'll still get hungry and wake up. So now your just depriving her of the sleep she needs (about 14 hrs a day). I would only keep her up all day if her times are messed up. For example, my son when he was her age would sleep all day then sleep all night, then the next day he'd be up all day and up all night. We had to keep him up all day to get him adjusted to a day night cycle, but it had nothing to do with his feedings. Just relax and go with the flow. She will tell you what she needs and when she needs it. If you start to anticipate her every need then you won't learn to listen to her and let her tell you what she needs. She does have a voice, let her use it.



answers from Boston on

Hi my name is K., I have a 5 month old little boy and I also have eleven nieces and nephews. How often a baby eats can depend on the baby, one baby may eat every 4 hours, while another wants to eat every 2 it really depends. Babies tend to make their own schedule. My little boy Evan used to eat every three hours like clockwork and it had nothing to do with me waking him up. I believe in the never wake a sleeping baby method, that's what my Mom taught me and she had seven children. Also it should be okay to let them sleep that much during the day, babies are different then adults, most babies require 16 to 20 hours of sleep, so if they sleep that much during the day they still should sleep at night. As the baby gets older they tend to sleep longer at night time. For example, my son used to eat every three hours, as he ate a little more he seem to last a little longer, then the feedings started getting closer together and the doctor had me start cereal, he now goes to bed around 7 and doesn't wake up until around 6 or so and he takes two naps during the day also. I am sure as the baby gets older and is eating more, she will probably sleep longer.



answers from Albany on

Every baby is different and as each baby grows their eating and sleeping patterns will change. My other children were always every 4 hour eaters and they would eat at least 6oz at every feeding. But the baby I have now never eats more than 4 ounces at a time (usually 3) and wants to eat every 2 hours during the day and gets up usually 2 times each night. As long as your baby is healthy and happy I wouldn't worry about it. Your baby will sleep through the night eventually. Again each baby is different. My daughter began at 6 weeks and one of my sons not until 6 months.



answers from New York on

I currently have a 3 week old baby girl, born Oct. 24th... but I also have a 2 year old girl, a 17 year old son, an 18 year old son, and a 20 year old daughter! I got each one of them sleeping through the night by a month and a half. If you wish for this to happen, follow what I'm telling you! :)

At night, let her sleep, and wake up and eat when she wants. The catch: at night feedings/changings, do NOT entertain her, talk to her, make smiley interesting faces, nothing. You want her to be bored at night, not want to wake up. On the other hand, try to keep her awake when she does wake up during the day. Make the room bright, let there be noises, even if she's asleep treat her like she's awake! At every daytime feed/change, talk to her, give her things to look at and engulf her in daytime activity. If she doesn't wake every 3 hours, try to wake her up, sure, that's a good idea. I find that if I take my sleeping butterball and change her diaper when she's asleep, she usually will wake right up. Then I talk to her and suddenly she's rooting for food again. In no time, your girlie will be choosing not to wake up at night, because it's boring!!! And this has worked like clockwork for me with my past 4 kids! This one only wakes up ONCE a night, and will go right back to sleep without fuss ALREADY. She's already getting it thru her head that nighttime is not the RIGHT time for fun and games! I would bet my life savings too, that she'll also be sleeping thru the night completely before the new year. She's already did it TWICE! Good luck, and trust me, try this technique out, and be PERSISTANT, and you will be a happy camper, sleeping your nights through! Incidentally, I am breastfeeding this baby. During the day, I feed her about every 2-3 hours when she "asks" for it, or at about 3 hours I'll just stick a boob in her mouth whether or not she's asking, she never declines LOL...just so she doesn't get a little tummy ache from being hungry. If you're bottle feeding you don't have to feed them as often, more like every 3-4 hours. When they're FIRST born, I'd say, the first week or so, it's probably not the best to allow them to sleep all night without feeding... but they normally don't sleep all night anyway so there's not much of a chance of that LOL My first 3 kids I bottle-fed formula, and my 2 year old and this baby I'm breastfeeding. There's no difference with them wanting more or less sleep at this point, I've found. Gina was sleeping thru the night by 1 1/2 months even though I breastfed her exclusively. And this one's only waking up once a night now, it's SWEET, I tell ya! LOL



answers from Lewiston on

It's fine to let her set her own eating and sleeping patterns (although you did help her set her 3 hour eating schedule, but you can assist her in fixing that). Let her sleep when she is tired and her body will learn to sleep in larger chunks, which will translate later into all nighters. Let her eat when she is hungry, and she will learn to eat more at a time and less often eventually. You're doing a great job being dedicated as you are. You are right to help guide her habits. But it's ok if she eats in 2 hours, or waits 4 hours. I have never set a schedule for my babies, and our philosophy at work is "eat on demand, sleep on demand." Good luck!



answers from Springfield on

Hi. I have a 3-month-old son and when he was born until about a month and a half he woke every couple of hours to eat. He now sleeps for about 8-10 hours at night. I breastfed exclusively for the first month and when my son was a month old I started to give him one bottle of formula a night before bed ... it didn't really help him sleep any longer though. I used to not let him sleep longer than 2-3 hours a stretch during the day and I think this helped him sleep longer at night. He also won't nap in his crib (we moved him to his crib at a month because he wasn't sleeping good in his bassinet and sleeps good in the crib) so he has learned that crib means nighttime and to sleep. Hope this helps.



answers from Charlotte on

I have a 3 month old who has been sleeping 7-9 hours through the night. My motto is "It's all business at night." Meaning, I keep the lights low, I don't talk or interact with my baby at night. I change my baby's diaper, back into the sleep sack, nurse until full, burp and back to the bassinet. Even if on occasion my baby is awake after nursing, I rock for a max of 5mins then lay my baby down with the pacifier. And now I am starting to stretch the nights longer by using the pacifier to push out the early morning feeding inch by inch until he gets the recommended 10 hours of night sleep. Did you know that the ACP recommends a pacifier to reduce the risk of SIDS?



answers from Las Vegas on

hi, my baby is now 4months old and sleeping through the night. i followed the BABY WISE book schedule every 3 hours. she wakes at 630 eats 4-5oz plays then nap so she is up for about 2 hours then sleeps for 1-2 hours.example 630 usually goes back down till 9 from 9-11 we eat play then nap time. what i have found works best is giving her a larger bottle 6-9 oz before bed then she has a full tummy and sleeps. at first when i waas doing demand feeding she was waking every two hrs at night OUCH!!! but now she is doing better and it makes it easy to plan the day around her sleep schedule. hope this helps



answers from Buffalo on

My son was being fed every 2 hours for a long time and this went even into the night....occasionally he would sleep 3 maybe 3 1/2 hrs at the most before he was up to eat again. I eventually increased his btl. by an ounce and tried to wait an extra hour or 2 before i fed him again. I slowly kept doing this. Eventually he just started sleeping longer at nite (about 8pm until 530-6am eats and sleeps until 730-8) and he eats @every 4 hours during the day (6oz btls) I never ever woke him up to eat though. I was always told that newborns make their own schedule and will eat when they want to. I think too, babies are like us still and we don't eat every day every meal at the exact same time. He's 5 mo. now and he's started eating oatmeal (rice constipates!) and he's going longer during the day with no btl.! hope I helped in someway :)



answers from New York on

Dear S.,
hi my name is L. and i just had a baby too, a baby girl her name is Leyla Marie is is now 7 weeks old ,she was also 6 weeks early her due date was 11-10-2006,but she desided to come into the world sept.30,06, she was in the hospital for 10 days because she was jurdice she was eating every 4 hours in the hospital that i was waking her up too she got home and was doing every 3 , she was eating 2 ounces of milk only......... now she is home and it is now every 2 2 1/2 hours of eating i tried to give her alittle more nilk to feed her that worked for a little while so i know the feeling . she too sleeps great durning the day but when it comes to night time omg .. so i to have not let her sleep to much durning the day and believe me it doesnt matter as she gets older i think they sleep more , i havent had a good night sleep yet ..... but she is well worth the bags under my eyes lol................i even gave her a half of teaspoon of baby cereal in her bottle .... not every night....good luck and let me know L.



answers from Boston on

Don't wake a sleeping baby!! let her sleep and when she wakes up, she'll be hungry, but let her sleep!!! that's how she'll learn to nap and learn to go longer between feedings. Just be ready to feed her fast when she wakes up. good luck!!



answers from Knoxville on

You have to let babies sleep dont wake them up that is the worse mistake.. like me i let my 4 month old sleep and never wake him up and when it comes to i have to put him to bed he goes right off to sleep, but not all babies are the same.. just let your baby sleep as long as she can then your can feed your baby she should start gettin used to that.. that was my problem but i let my baby do what he wanted to do and now i go to bad at nine when he does and he don't wake me up until 7-9 in the mornin...

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