Newborns and Feeding Schedule

Updated on May 26, 2014
A.F. asks from Bellmore, NY
21 answers

My daughter is seven weeks coming up and I am trying to figure out how to put her on a feeding schedule. She is formula-fed and has a milk-protein allergy so she is on Alimentum. Julia has been having crying fits sometimes during the day but usually between 5 and 7 in the evening. I don't think she is colic but wondered. She is very gassy and without testing the pediatrician noticed she had reflux. I'm also wondering if she could be allergic to corn solids as I found out the powdered formula has it and the liquid does not.

This past week I noticed Julia has had between 6 and 7 bottles. She takes between 3 and 5 ounces so at times she wastes formula. She usually cries for food every three hours but many times she cries within two and a half hours. I try to stall her as long as I can. She also falls asleep feeding which is frustrating. I try to wake her but if I can't she is up an hour or two later. It seems like a cluster feed or she is snacking.

I have a baby book that suggests feeding (a four week old) every three hours with two cluster feeds and one dream feed between 10 and 11. I just don't understand how to put her on a schedule and I have another daughter but I think I just followed her lead. One night her last bottle is at 7:00 and she wakes for a 12 AM feeding and another night her last bottle was at 11:30 and wanted food at 2:40 am.

I'm not sure how to do the interval thing especially when she is crying hysterically and the only thing that will soothe her is a bottle. Thanks for the advice. P.S. Julia was a full-term baby at 6 lbs, 8 oz.

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answers from Wausau on

About wasting formula - make smaller bottles. You can always make more if necessary.

Follow her lead with the feeding though. All babies have different needs. She will show you the schedule she needs.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

Feed her on demand and over the next several weeks or months look for HER schedule to emerge. There will be a noticeable rhythm to her eating and sleeping patterns, then use that to build a somewhat predictable routine.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Kansas City on

The schedule you should be on is hers. I'm a big believer in schedules, and our infant is on one where he eats every 2 1/2 - 3 hours. That's what he should be doing. Don't try to stall her, she's hungry! If formula gets wasted, it gets wasted. It sucks that it can only be made in even amounts, if you're really worried about it, you can buy a formula pitcher and make some in advance and then try only 3 oz, and then add an ounce or two if she is hungrier. When our daughter was little we made her bottles all in advance because it was easier for me. Our son is still on just 2 oz at a time, so I don't do them in advance yet, but if he's still hungry when he finishes his bottle I make him another 2 oz one. If he only eats one oz or whatever, I don't get mad at him for it, I'm just happy he's full.

I recommend the Baby Whisperer schedule, which is a parent led schedule based on baby's needs. If you get a chance, she has a book called "the baby whisperer solves all your problems" which I got at the library. It's all about listening to your baby's cues, which in your case is that she's hungry and needs to be fed.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

Babies that young need to be fed on demand. You don't put her on a schedule, she puts you on one. Three hours between feedings for an infant that young is way too long, she is about to go through a growth spurt and you are denying her the calories to do so.
Also, around that age, all of my kids went through a "colicky" stage, when they would cry for 2-3 hours every night for about 4-6 weeks. It was exhausting, and nothing I did seemed to help, so I would simply hold them until the crying fit passed, trying to sooth them.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

newborns are SO exhausting, and so very individual, aren't they? you poor tired mama.
i know you don't want to hear this, but julia is SO tiny. schedules are great for moms (especially exhausted ones) but they just don't work for all babies. and it sounds as if julia is hungry, so i wouldn't try to stall her, not yet, not at this brand-new age. and while formula is expensive, try not to get too angsty about her 'wasting' it. she's got her own very unique little system, and no way to convey her needs to you other than crying.
i do think you will benefit from doing some detective work and figuring out what she needs during that fussy period (of course by the time you deduce it, the phase may well be over) and how to cope with the gas and reflux. but please don't get too caught up in your baby book (which was not written with julia in mind), and parent the baby you have, just as you did with your other daughter.
whether she's cluster-feeding or snacking, the bottom line is a hungry baby who is relying on mom to fill her belly. and if she falls asleep while she's eating? so do nursing babies. kiss her, lay her down, and take a quick nap yourself. before you know it she'll be heading to kindergarten and you'll be wondering where your precious infant went.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

Definitely just feed on demand. Babies, especially such young babies, are changing so fast that by the time you "establish" a schedule, they will need a new one.

To avoid wasting formula, make up large batches, and start her off with 3 oz. then give her another oz. at a time until she is full. As long as she hasn't drank from it, you can keep formula stored in the fridge without a problem.

The sleeping while eating is frustrating, but normal for some babies. My daughter was the SAME way. I nursed her, and it would take me up to 45 minutes to get her to finish eating. :/ my pediatrician said that you can do things like stripping her down (so she's not so warm and cozy), tickling her feet, tickle her cheek, etc. To try to keep her awake while eating.

As for the inconsolable crying, my DD was the same there too. (She also had reflux and was colicky until around 4 months) I found out that movement really helped her. She practically LIVED in her bouncy seat, for a while there, where I would use my foot to keep it moving in order to get a little rest or take care of the house.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If it were me, I would ditch the schedule for a while and feed her when she is signalling you that she's hungry.

I'm a bit wary of any schedule written by a person who doesn't know me or my child. Each child is different. Your girl may metabolize the formula faster than average and be ragingly hungry at that 2.5 hour mark, and I'd honor that. Her body is growing, telling her that it needs more food. You are the only person who call alleviate that pain for her. Remember, in her developing brain, she cannot understand why she isn't getting a bottle when she cries; she doesn't understand differences between "need" and "want", just that she's hungry and the hunger doesn't stop.

She may also be falling asleep during the feed because she has expended all that energy crying. If you let her wear herself out while you are stalling, then of course she's going to be exhausted. (Crying is exhausting, she's using her entire little body to do this).

Remember, she has only spent a small fraction of her time 'on the outside' and is still getting used to so many things. I'd feed on demand for a time, until she gets used to knowing her needs are being met reliably. There is a philosophy that you can train youngsters to 'trust' that they will be fed by holding off and only feeding during the scheduled times. I would argue, in all of my years of research on child development, that there is no evidence to support this, and that the child is NOT capable of this sort of thought because their brains are not developed to that level at such a young age. To me, schedules are great for medically fragile babies (because you do want to keep track of how much they are taking in, and really, that's a tool for US) and older kids who need to learn when mealtimes are. But they are growing so much when they are little, I figure they are good at letting us know what they need. If someone really wants to develop a 'trust' relationship with baby, meeting their needs thoughtfully is the first thing to do.

Anyway, I haven't read anyone else's answers, but that's what I did and would do.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think you just need to stop reading and do what your child needs. She's crying because she's hungry. If you don't feed her she cries more. Then when you do finally give her a bottle she sucks a bit and is comforted and passes out.

You need to stop all this stuff and feed your child when she's hungry. By making her go hungry you are teaching her that you can't be trusted to take care of her. It's trust verses mistrust. She needs to trust you. That you will take care of her.

Babies get hungry when they get hungry. Making them go without food is cruel. Feed your baby. Make a couple of bottles up with just water in them, you can add some gas drops to the water if you think it helps, then make 3 ounces with formula. Keep the formula and the extra water bottle by the place you feed her so if she takes all of that bottle you have another ready. You could even just mix up 2 ounces in the second if she seems really hungry.

As she gets older she'll take more and more.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Seven weeks is very young. She absolutely should be fed pretty much on demand at this age. I know it's exhausting (I had three in six years) but her tummy is tiny and her digestive system is still developing. You can't really "fill her up" she needs to graze, that's simply how babies feed and grow. Mine were all fed every two to three hours for at least the first four months or so, around the clock. Of course with breast milk there was never any cost or waste (it was free and ready all the time!) so with formula I'm sure that just makes things even harder for you. Can you make smaller bottles so you're wasting less?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Just feed her when ever she's hungry as much as she wants.
No schedules for now - see what happens in 6 or so months.
It's common for babies to cry for a few hours in the evening no matter how/when/what they are fed.
Google 'the witching hour babies'.
It's a stage many go through.
The rule of thumb is they about double their birth weight by month 5 and they about triple their birth weight by 1 yr - the rapid growth needs lots of feeding!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

First of all she is seven weeks. Her cranky time is between 5 and 7. Just about all babies have a time when they are cranky and usually it is the evening. Babies cry. It is the way it is. How did ped determine she has reflux? Just feed her when she she is hungry. A schedule will emerge.
Just because babies are cranky does not mean they have allergies, etc. They are babies. Sit back, rock your baby and love and snuggle her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

There is no reason at all to put her on your schedule. She has her own schedule. You should feed her when she is hungry, how much she wants and that is it. I do not see why you stall when she is crying from hunger. Nor do I see any reason at all to wake her if she is not hungry. Eating every three hours is perfectly normal for her age.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Because she has reflux, you are going to need to do some things a little differently. She should sleep at a 30 degree angle, think car seat or swing. She should eat LESS MORE often. I used to feed mine 1.5 -2 oz every hour and a half. You didn't say did the doc give her any meds like zantac or prevacid? I used to use Mylanta or Maalox, use a syringe and slip it into the side of her mouth. This will help with the acid burn. 1oz or so at a time should help.

And, I hate to tell you this, but she is probably going to eat round the clock. She is too small to go for very long without eating. I am happy to help just pm me if you want details or have questions. I know how difficult this time can be!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

She's so young.
Also, in infants, growth spurts is about every 3 weeks.
And they also cluster feed.
And are always growing, may need more frequent feedings.
Go, according to her lead.
Because, everyday and night, it will vary.

Per her gas issues, well my daughter was like that. I gave her Mylicon Infant Gas Drops. It helped. A lot. My daughter had gas problems and pain, and she did NOT expel her gas, though I tried and tried. She rarely burped and rarely farted. Hence, she had pain and hence she had sleeping problems and crying fits. But the Mylicon helped.

My kids as babies, had HUGE appetites and fed, all the time. Day and night. And I fed them on-demand. I went according to their lead.
Infants cannot or should be not fed according to a schedule. That is also what our Pediatrician said. Each baby varies. Go by their lead, per feedings.

Also give her, smaller bottles. An infant at that age, does not drink an entire bottle of 9 ounces. Drinking 3-5 ounces, is a lot for their little tiny tummy. That is normal.
If you overfeed her, she will be uncomfortable. And be fussy.
If you "stall" her feedings, she will be STILL hungry. And fussy. And not be able to sleep.
Cluster feeding, is a normal natural thing, per the infant, per their growth spurts and needs for intake. So go according to her, lead.

In infants, they feed every 2-3 hours at most.
And yes, cluster feeding is every hour.

Make her bottles, according to how much, she drinks per feeding.
Then you won't have wasted formula.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

As for the crying in the evening, it is normal for new borns to have a "fussy time." They cry inconsolably and nothing helps. This will pass if i recall by about 12 weeks.
Getting baby on a schedule is not an exact science. Babies eat about every three hours, so you take it from there. Sometime that means their last meal before bed is 9:00 and sometime that means its 10:30. I would not even worry about schedules at this age. They will naturally fall into some predictability as the months go on. What you can do to help with the schedule is work towards full feedings. Snack feeding results in frequent feeding. Since your baby already goes three hours between feedings, i"d say your doing all you can.
Mine wanted to eat every three hours 'round the clock until he was 8 months old and then he started wanting to eat every two ours. Thats when I had to intervene and stop offering any night time eating.
But for new borns, you just feed 'em. Things usually work themselves out for the better in time (unlike what happened to me and my third kid.)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Feed her when she is hungry. It does not make sense to have an infant wait until the clock says it is meal time. She can't understand and it will only make all of you miserable.Try wearing her in a sling during her fussy time of the day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Below is a response I had to someone else's question about baby schedules. It's basically babywise. Hope it helps.

I used the eat, play, sleep method with my second son. I waited until my younger son was about 5 or 6 weeks, before I started. ( I didn't know about it with my first son). Wake up about the same time each day. Only about a 30 minute difference. By the time I started I had a good idea of when my son would wake in the morning to eat. I would get up half an hour earlier so I could go to the bathroom get a little something to eat and be ready when he woke up. I had to go back to work soon, so I once he was fed, I would put him in a bouncy facing me, while I pumped and I would talk to him. (I would wait to change his diaper until after he ate, so it would wake him up). After I cleaned up the pumping supplies, I would put him on his belly for a few minutes and play with some of his toys while he watched. He was usually awake for about 45 minutes.When he started to get cranky, I knew he was tired and would cuddle and rock him until fell asleep. No nursing!He would fall asleep right away. Let him sleep until he wakes up and do it all again. I was feeding him every 2 to 2.5 hours. At night I would nurse him to sleep. If I remember correctly, it only took about 2 nights before he was sleeping 6 hours a night.

It will take a couple of days, but you'll be able to figure out a schedule. It all starts with getting up at the same time everyday.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Green Bay on

I would pay attention to her sleep schedule as well. How often is she sleeping? If she is falling asleep during a bottle, she could be crying because she is TIRED, not hungry. My son's tired signals and hungry signals are very similar - he sucks on his fists for both. But if I try to feed him and he is hungry he will eat well - he is nursing. But if he is tired, he falls asleep. It is hard to catch their subtle cues with an older sibling running around - that is what I am finding now :-) You could see if she settles with a nuk.

I have worked with infants a LOT and often found that sometimes their sleep/eating schedule would throw them off. If they didn't eat enough, they wouldn't be "held over" long enough to get a good nap it. Then they wouldn't nap well because they would wake up hungry and trying to feed them, they would fall asleep. Infants need more sleep than a lot of people give them - their wake periods shouldn't be more than two hours - sometimes only an hour! (Recommend Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child book)

GOod luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree with Marla. For a reflux baby, the general rule of thumb is to feed half as much, twice as often. So when a non-reflux baby would get 4 oz every 3 hours, you should feed a reflux baby 2 oz every 1.5 hours. This helps the milk stay down and causes less pain for the baby.

And yes, many babies have fussy time in the evening. They are worn out by a day of stimulation, and start to melt down. It's frustrating, but very normal newborn stuff.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

My oldest was a terrible sleeper. He would take really short naps and be up for hours in the middle of the night. I was so stressed! With my second, I had a pretty good idea of what having a newborn meant, and I just kind of went with the flow. Looking back, I wonder if I caused the sleep problems in my oldest just by being so tense all the time. I was also too concerned with what I thought he was "supposed" to be doing instead of just letting him do his thing.

I think you'll find if you go back to following her lead, you will have a much happier baby and a much happier mommy. Most babies do have a fussy time. You can try rocking her or wearing her in a sling. Our boys really liked the swing, and my youngest liked the bouncy seat. Since I was a SAHM, I would often give our son to my husband when he got home. Sometimes just being in Daddy's arms made a difference. My boys were with my all day, so Daddy was a nice change.

Hang in there! But definitely relax about the feedings. Let her take the lead.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Babies do not know what time it is just that they are hungry. I have two adult children one bottle fed and done breast fed.

My bottle fed baby was my son. He arrived at our home at 5 weeks old and had a "schedule" of baby does this that and the other at said times. I looked at the size of the baby and the quantity suggested and changed them up. Hubby showed me how to make bottles (glass ones) and we did 8 oz. even though schedule said 5. Baby was a the "demand" feeding schedule. The schedule was about every 3 hours or so.

You plan what you have to do while the child sleeps and you get things done around the house. You feed the baby at 9pm and 12 midnight and 3am and then at 6am. So you sleep from 9 to 12 and go back 1230am to 3am. I know it sounds simple but it is. You get into a groove and routine but you have to do the same routine every day, day in and day out, for the first six months of life. You find time to spend with the older child in between. Everyone takes a nap in the afternoon so that everyone is happy.

Make smaller bottles and when baby demands more you add more formula to the bottle. I know formula is costly now days and I wonder how you guys can do it but that's another story.

Have you thought a formula change as this could be a problem? There are other brands for milk proteins and things. My son would up on a soybean based formula and he began to thrive and be happy.

Hang in there. Just hold her, love her, cuddle her and put her down when she is drowsy. A few more months and this will be a memory.

the other S.

PS One of the unpleasant parts of parenthood the new baby.

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