As your baby grows, his or her feeding needs and schedule will continue to shift and change.
The First Four Months
During your child's first four months of life, his or her nourishment will come exclusively from formula or breastmilk, but the amount your child needs at each feeding will change as your child grows.
While many babies used to start eating solids at 4 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends waiting until your child is at least 6 months old to introduce solid foods into his or her diet.
However, some doctors and organizations still recommend starting your child on solids between 4 and 6 months of age, so it's important to talk to your child's pediatrician about what's right for your baby.
How Much and How Often Should My Child Be Eating?
In the first month, your child was most likely be eating every 1 1/2 to two hours, but by the time he or she is 4 months old, those feedings can be stretched out to three to four hours. Breastfed babies will eat slightly more often than their formula-fed counterparts because breastmilk digests quicker than formula.
At each feeding, your formula-fed baby will be eating approximately four to six ounces. Your breastfed baby, on the other hand, won't have such an exact measurement.
As your breastfed baby has grown, he or she has become a more efficient sucker, so feedings will gradually grow shorter (unless your child just wants to be comforted). Don't worry if your child is done after five minutes on each breast or after 10 minutes on one breast, your baby has probably gotten all of the nourishment he or she needs.
Should I Put My Baby on a Schedule or Feed On-Demand?
As your child grows older, this question may become more prevalent in your mind. While some parents put their child on a schedule as soon as possible, other parents wait until they're sure their baby is growing at the right pace before placing them on a schedule.
Deciding whether to feed your baby on a schedule (parent-led) or on-demand (child-led) is completely up to you. Some parents need/want their child on a rigid schedule because their sanity depends on it. Other parents believe strongly that feedings should be on-demand. Neither choice is wrong as long as the child is healthy and growing.
Is My Child Eating Enough?
If you're worried that your child isn't eating enough, there are a few cues to look for to see if your child is being adequately nourished.
- If your child is breastfed, do your breasts feel softer after each feeding?
- Does your baby seem calm and satisfied?
- Is your baby wetting at least six diapers a day?
- Is your baby continuously gaining weight?
If you answered "yes" to all or most of these questions, your baby is, most likely, getting enough to eat. But, if you're still concerned that your child isn't getting enough, talk to your pediatrician.
Sample Breastfeeding Schedule for a 4-Month-Old
Feeding 1 - 6:30 a.m.
Feeding 2 - 9:30 a.m.
Feeding 3 - 12:30 p.m.
Feeding 4 - 3:30 p.m.
Feeding 5 - 6:30 p.m.
Feeding 6 - 9:30 p.m.
Feeding 7 - 12:30 a.m.
Feeding 8 - 4:30 a.m.
Sample Formula Feeding Schedule for a 4-Month-Old
Feeding 1 - 6 a.m.
Feeding 2 - 10 a.m.
Feeding 3 - 2 p.m.
Feeding 4 - 6 p.m.
Feeding 5 - 10 p.m.
Feeding 6 - 2 a.m.
These schedules are just samples of what your child's schedule might look like. Make sure to tailor your baby's schedule to his or her needs.
Also, don't worry if your child's schedule needs to be adjusted during growth spurts. Once the growth spurt is finished, your child will readjust to his or her original schedule.