Many parents are eager to get their infants onto a breastfeeding schedule. When Hooper was an infant I heard other moms talking about how they put their babies on an every-three-hour schedule. It sounded like a nice idea. I tried it. It didn’t work for me. For starters, I think it diminished my milk supply. It’s for reasons like this that lactation consultants recommend feeding your infant on demand. So what’s the happy median between a feeding schedule and feeding on demand, you ask? How about a feeding on demand schedule? An oxymoron, you think? Maybe, but in my experience there becomes a routine when feeding on demand.
Here’s my suggestion: Over a three day period, feed your baby when your baby wants to be fed. Write down the times. When the three days are over, look for consistencies or similar times that your baby fed on all three days. You’ll notice that while they may not be on your schedule, that they do in fact have a schedule. After noting the consistencies, try to keep to their schedule in the following days. And there you have it, your very own baby-made feeding schedule.
Interested in boosting your supply? Milk production is most plentiful in the morning hours. After determining your baby-made feeding schedule, look for holes in the morning hours where you can fit in a pumping session or two. I pump right after Van’s morning feed and, again, one hour after that.
Here’s what our schedule looks like:
6am- breastfeed, followed immediately by pumping
7am- pump
9am to 9pm- breastfeed on demand. If there are any long stretches, I pump. If he refuses a feeding and it’s been a while since the last, I pump.
The reality with a baby-made feeding schedule is that it’s always changing. You may determine a schedule that lasts for an entire month, but then it will change. Therefore, you are constantly having to make small tweaks along the way. But such is life, no?
Would love to hear what you schedule looks like and what you’ve found works for you.
You can check out my other posts on breastfeeding here and here.

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10 Responses

  • As I gear up for breastfeeding again, I wanted to share my own tips. I BF my daughter for 9months (wanted longer, but was she was all ‘enough of this lady!’), and plan to go for a year this time around (whether or not he wants it!!).
    I was lucky/cursed with a plentiful supply, so initially, there was LOTS of discomfort. Bed being soaked nightly. Breasts so engorged I had to invest in cabbages just to freeze and put on my breasts. My letdown was so strong I would have to take her off when it happened, or deal with her choking/being shot in the face with milk. Eventually I learned to pump one breast while she fed on the other, to angle myself so she was wasn’t being shot in the throat with milk, and to feed on one breast per feeding, while pumping the other.
    I went back to work full-time at 3months, so I pumped that whole time. I found that I was again lucky, as I could pump out 6oz easily and quickly. What helped tremendously was to stimulate my nipples (kind of TMI, but seriously, it worked!!), wait for the feeling of that letdown, then PUMP! Within minutes, my supply was flowing, and I could empty my breasts quickly.
    Anytime I worried about low supply (which was really just me being a crazy person), I ate more oatmeal, ensured I was drinking 50+oz of water daily, and tried to pump more frequently.
    I hope its as easy this time around!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m always envious of you mamas with such a plentiful supply… but it’s easy to forget about the discomfort that comes along with a plentiful supply. I hope other readers find your tips helpful as well. Thanks again for sharing and best of luck in round two of breastfeeding.

  • This is exactly how I have found a schedule with breastfeeding both times. By writing down when the feed, working out the pattern and then maybe moving it around to make it work for me if I need it to.
    I think if you try and put a baby on to rigid a schedule then they’ll only fight it and be miserable. x

  • My little boy is gaining weight great thanks to a very plentiful supply but I think if I let him make his own schedule, he’d never eat. He is completely uninterested in it and I have to remind him during the day. The last time I didn’t watch the clock he went five hours without food! In the early days this caused mastitis, so these days I force him to have snacks, popping him on to eat every two or three hours or so, even though he is showing ZERO hunger signs, but since I WFH I’m okay with this completely.

    • Van is the same way. I feel like I’m forcing him to eat more often than he’s asking to eat. It worries me to let him go too long because I’m always neurotic about my supply. As he’s getting older, he’s either gonna eat or he’s not. He won’t just latch on anytime my boob is in his face. I pump in between his feedings because of this. Whatever works, right? Thakns for sharing!

  • I’m curious what Vans naps are like and how he sleeps at night. I’m also curious how long he nurses at every feeding. My 2 month old still takes up to 45 minutes…. I can’t imagine doing that more than every 3 hours (from start to start).

    • Hooper was like that, he took forever to eat. Van is more efficient. He took longer when he was 2 months old but since about 3 months, he takes an average of 20 minutes to eat. I think it’s totally normal for your 2 month old to take 45 mintues. He sleeps, on average, 7 or 8 hours at night then wakes to feed, then sleeps another 3 hours. During growth spurts, he wakes every 3 hours or so. I’m lucky to get an hour nap during the day. His naps are not consistent at all, but so long as he’s sleeping through the night, I don’t care.

      • That sounds almost exactly like my son. He sleeps so well at night (he “goes to bed” between 7-8, I dream feed at 10, he sleeps until 6:30, and he takes a killer AM nap ) but his naps are just NOT reliable.

        I’m really hoping that Hendrik will become more efficient soon! 3 months isn’t THAT far away – you’ve officially given me hope

  • My nursing schedule is simple now that my daughter, Sloane, is almost 8 months old. I breast feed her the following times: when she wakes in the morning around 7-8am, again at 11 am, at 3PM, 6PM, and 8ish… She eats homemade baby food at noon and 5:00PM. I’ll be honest, there’s the occasional 5am feed when I don’t feel like pumping. When she was younger I breast fed her every 2-3 hours and pumped at midnight and again around 5am. I agree 100% with you Ashley, breast milk is more plentiful in the morning, rather than the evening.

    Question: When did you start breast feeding Hooper less and spoon fed him more? What was that schedule like? Reason why I ask, my husband and I both agree we should add a third meal and reduce the breast feeding from 4/5 to 3/4.

    • Funny thing is that I don’t remember. Toward the end of breastfeeding, my milk supply was so low. I tried increasing my feedings to every 2 to 3 hours like the good ol’ days, but it didn’t seem to help. It sounds like you are on top of things with the added pump sessions, so you may be able to decrease your feedings without compromising your supply. Whenever I’m in doubt, I ask my pediatrician. Good luck and thanks for sharing your feeding schedule 🙂


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