View Full Version : routine vs demand feeding - advice needed!
I have recently been thinking about routine vs demand feeding.
I started my LO on a routine from the day he was born and he has been doing pretty well - he is pretty good with telling the difference between day/night, and his feedings are pretty regular. However, I have recently been thinking about reading his cues, and I am scared I just have no idea because I was soooo intent on the clock in the first couple of weeks (there are obvious negatives to my approach).
Could someone out there who demand feeds their baby please explain to me exactly how it works? Do you feed whenever they cry? How do you organise your day? I just feel like I have somehow been robbed of the ability to "read" my baby as well as some others can, and perhaps it is because I was too intent on routine (I have eased off somewhat recently due to some research I undertook on it).
I would like to hear from mothers who successfully and happily demand feed about what you do with your baby etc; how it all works...
Have a great day!
I tried to do routine feeding as per my midwives and CHN. It just did not work for me and DS. He was impossible to wake up mid-feed so only fed for short time and as for waking him up to feed him, no way was that going to work. SO, I went against routine feeding and demand fed from 2 weeks.
For me (I may have an easy to read bub) DS generally only cries if hungry, wet nappy or tired. The feeds tend to fall around a similar time each day (give or take an hour) so when he gets cranky I either pop him on boob or give a bottle of EBM or formula.
If he is crying and I give him the breast and he is NOT hungry he pulls on and off, wriggles etc and I go to next solution.
I let him feed until he comes off the breast or until he starts doing the wriggling/ on/off stuff. Some feeds are long some shorter, during the day he feeds more frequently (2/3hours), at night he sleeps for a good 7/8 hours.
Although I dont have an exact by the clock routine to my day, it is basically the same everyday. It works for me as I feel at this point of my life I am here to be a SAHM who cares/tends/protects my bub on a daily basis. I can still do things around his demands, I just cant say to people I will be there at such and such a time, as he may decide he wants a feed.
It was alot harder for me when I didnt express or give formula and was solely breast feeding- with no bottle, I had to wait until he had fed. I made the decision to express or give formula to free me a little- now if I need (or want) to go somewhere I can express beforehand and leave a bottle for him.
Having said all that my friend is a strict routine feeder and she thinks it is the only way to go- I think you do what works for you and your baby! Every one has a different story. Good luck
OMG I Just lost all of my reply :confused: I don't know what I pressed.
I'll start again in a condensed version:
Firstly don't be too hard on yourself! You would now more than you realise and bubs constantly change and so do your skills/knowledge - you grow together!
Secondly, I have demand fed my DD from the start and have had no problems. When she would cry I would firstly check hunger (offer her the breast - if she fed she was hungry otherwise I would put it away and try the next thing!). I would check nappy, and otherwise just play or comfort her. As they grow you will become more able to tell hunger from other crys. In terms of routine I would let her guide me. I am someone who loves routine normally but hav ehad to let go a bit since becoming a mum. I found that she settled herself into a routine, but it will also change regularly as they grow and require less sleep, etc.
I found several problems with the timing suggested to me by well meaning MCHN. (This is just my opinion) By making her wait during the day I worried she would then need to feedmore at night. I figured it made sense that she would need to feed more often if she was to go for longer without at night. (within reason of course!) This did seem to work for us as she gradually went into being a great sleeper and still mostly is except for teething! The other problem I found was that bubs regulate your supply. I found Alyse had growth spurt days where she would exhaust me by feeding very often (two hourly) but be the next day would settly back to normal. I think it was important for me to be guided by her in terms of her growth and in maintaining supply.
We are now in a more consistent routine due to her age and that she is now on solids as well. I did go through a patch though (when she was about 5 months old) when I was feeding her too much - just foremilk and I was getting very exhausted, but I made her wait a bit then to work up a hunger and played with her and then she started feeding better but not quite as often. So to sum up (I know I'm not very concise!!) I've very happily demand fed and find her very contented and not fussy at all.
Mostly though go with your instincts - that is what I did.
my partner (bless 'im!) uses the rule of five! he says (whenever he's giving his child-rearing instructions to others :) ) you have to ask (in this order):
1. hungry? (try the boob or a bottle or food if they're older!)
3. bored? needs a cuddle?
4. hot or cold?
he reckons this is 'his' little checklist which he goes through whenever our daughter is crying.
also, our gp says babies under 12 months won't over-eat so i guess you can't feed them TOO much!!
i do remember what it's like when they're really little though - you feel like you are breastfeeding them all day!!! :)
I have demand fed both my daughters, and it is so much a part of our life that I am having trouble sitting here trying to think how we do it. I have to confess first of all that I breastfeed my baby to sleep, which works for all of us at this point in our lives. But she does have feeds apart from when she sleeps. So the signs I look for are a bit of grizzling, eye rubbing, getting noisier in her play, jerky movements - basically the tired signs. I feed her and if she falls asleep then she goes down, if she doesn't then she is back up to play until she shows tired signs again.
In the beginning there were days when it felt like she was feeding every hour or so but now that she is nearly 7 months she is happy to go for several hours without a feed.
I don't worry too much about routine - it was hard to let go of routine with my first but my life is soooooo different now to how it was before babies that I cope quite well without routine. That being said, by the 5 month mark with both children our life had settled into a bit of a routine anyway - I can predict roughly when the baby will be asleep and when she will need to feed, and as time goes on the predictability becomes easier. My eldest, who is 2, now has a lovely routine with sleep and meals etc - so it does evolve from the chaos of babies into some order that you can plan around.
I also thought I would add here, although it relates to other threads you have posted, that my 2 year old used to sleep for 45 minutes once a day from about the 6 month mark, but now at 2 she sleeps for 2 1/2 hours daily, which is just bliss if I need to catch up on sleep myself, or do chores, or sit on bubhub!
Hope this makes some sense!
I started writing every feed down, how long, whether it was long or short etc - even at 2.00 in the morning! As soon as I gave that the flick, feeding seemed to be easier. Don't be afraid to listen to your baby and trust your motherly intuition - I'm sure you'll be surprised how it all comes together.
our little treasures
I agree it depends entirey on you and your bubs situation, however my dd has always demand fed and she still does at 15mnths, I went to mil and she said what time do I feed her and I said whenever she wants. I remember thinking what a silly question but then remembered my sil is the ruler of routine. I however find my child sleeps eats and plays all over the place and I wouldn't have it any other way.
When she was newborn all of the older mums and our parents would say don't feed her all the time every four hrs etc, this was coming from mums who never b/f. by 4 weeks it was a hot day and my daughter cried all day well screamed all day and I had my mum visiting and she held her and allowed her to cry. That was the day I said no this isn't healthy and I started to feed dd when she wanted, this was every hour somedays and every 2 others but after a week or so I found I must have got more milk or maybe we were both happy but dd went to only feeding 3-4 hrs the same with her sleep when she gives me tired cues is when I take her of to bed. I don't b/f her but her food is the same when she says jink (drink) I get it and when she goes to the kitchen or says jeez (cheese) I know what she is after.
If your happy then overall baby will be happy.
MY baby was a very hungry litlle man and i demand fed him roughly every two hours day and night until about 8 weeks old. I found it really hard and was desperate for him to last at least three hours! but no matter what I tried (dummy, a little bit of boiled water) nothing worked. Eventually (after the second month) my bub started to slow down and feed three hourly during the day and 6 to 8 hours at night-which was great!!!
I believe my son knew what he needed and knew exactly how to get it, if you know what I mean :p
He is a very healthy, happy ten month old and still a BIG eater today!
I say let your child guide your feeding routine, whether that be demand or schedule feeding,
but most of all enjoy your time together it goes so fast!
:) Oh and HAPPY MOTHERS DAY for sunday
I guess I sorta do both! I'm never sure when I see these "demand V routine" issues what I do really..........basically, for the first 2 months I think I demand fed -when she would cry I would just go through the "checklist" (like mayasmum partner does ;) ) and usually if it was 2-3 hrs since a feed, she would be hungry.........my bub has always been pretty good though with spacing out feeds - she quickly got herself down to 3 hrs - now it's around 2-4 (she is nearly 3 months old)
Now we are sort of in a "pattern" with feeds about 2-4 hrs apart during the day and 6-9 hrs at night - around 8 weeks I started concentrating on feeding her plenty during the day (from 1st morning feed till 8pm roughly I decided was what we considered daytime) - so she'd sleep longer at night and I found it worked :) She now has gotten into a pattern of a feed about 3am, then 8am, 11am, 2pm, 6pm....................3am - sometimes in the evenings- before bedtime she may have a smaller "top up" feed - generally she is tired and ready to settle around 7pm.......
We haven't been "Strict" about this routine - but have just fallen into it pretty easily - if I think she is hungry - I feed her, no matter what time and like the others say, she won't drink if she's not hungry........BTW, I bottle feed her now - weaned at 8-9 weeks, but she was already getting into this same "routine" when she was breastfed anyway - the only difference with the bottle feeding is that since the day I started it, she has slept that longer period at night..........might be becuase it's more filling, or just coincidence!! I certainly wouldn't advise people to stop breastfeeding just to get a longer sleep at night - I think it's just a developmental thing as they become more aware of the "night/day" difference...iykwim?
As for "cues" - all I can recommend is that you get the book "Secrets of the Baby Whisperer" - she has some great tables with explanations about different types of crys and what to look for as "signs" of various things - I have found these to be absolutely SPOT ON and have found her book very useful in this regard.
Try not to stress it too much - I'm sure you know more about your bubs cues then you consciously realise & good for you for getting you both into a routine so quickly.........one thing I keep telling myself is this - as my bub is genetically "mine and hbs" then it stands to reason that she is somewhat like us in personality, likes & dislikes.....hence, if you LIKE routine and do well with it as that is your natural instinct - your bub may very well be teh same and that's why he responds so well to your way of doing things ;)
Not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but just thought I'd put in my 2 bits. From when my baby was about 8 wks (I think!) we fell into a kind of pattern, which was basically:
1) Wake up
3) Look around / play / whatever
4) Start yawning / grizzling etc
6) If won't sleep, try feeding again / rocking etc
7) Repeat ad nauseum
This way it's easy to know when to feed her - I basically give her a feed every time she wakes up (I can only remember 1 time ever that she hasn't wanted to feed after waking) and then I know that the next time she grizzles it will be because she's tired (usually!). This lets her set the pace because she wakes up when she's hungry, but it still gives me some idea of what to do. I find that the actual times vary each day, but the general pattern stays the same, and strangely enough it usually fits in with what I need to do that day. I find it's a good balance between predictability and flexibility.
I have a routine with my daughters feed times. But I wouldnt really say she's "routine fed". She kind of set herself a routine from day 1. I tend to really pay attention to her "signs" and I base a lot of what I do on that. We kind of run with this:
*Feed (including nappy change) :eek:
*Play (this can include bath time!) :D
She feeds every 3 1/2 to 4 hours during the day (from start of feed to start of the next feed). She sleeps through at night + has done for months now. (YAH!) But with this said, there are times that this just doesnt work. For instance, if she's been sick, had needles, teething, or extreemly unsettled. You just have to pay extra attention at those times.
I think if you're relaxed about it and go with the flow your baby will pick up on those signals and be happier too! (they are so smart they pick up on everything)
Every baby is different, this is just what works for us!
I demand fed from day one. Regardless of what the nurses said (and that made for some grumpy nurses mind you). I also have an ample supply and often express a bottle or two for the times when I need a rest (to have my breasts to myself for a change). The first few weeks were the worst but now my daughter is 11 weeks old and feeds roughly (times vary a little) at 4.30am, 8 am, 11am, 2.30pm, 6pm and 9pm (then she goes to bed). At the moment she has a cold and tends to eat a little more often but not too much differently from the above times. I let her set her own routine and that has worked well for me.
i have demand nursed evander from birth. he is now 10 mos old.. but times hes teething and/or sick its very helpful to nurse them following their cues. basically for a younger baby work off averages of around 3 hr intervals, once solids get introduced stretch it to 4-6 hrly with solids in between but when your baby fusses offer the feed . the breast is also a comfort tool, i dont just see it as nutrition (thirst, hunger).
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