World Breastfeeding Week: Here is everything you need to know about your baby's feeding schedule
World Breastfeeding Week occurs from August 1 to August 7. This year, the theme for breastfeeding week is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”.
Motherhood is a beautiful journey, and it can be full of surprises especially for new moms. Taking care of a newborn can be a little overwhelming in the initial phases and it’s normal to feel exhausted. It is important for mothers to take care of themselves and a little help from the family and medical experts can make this period memorable for them.
Since a baby’s diet will form the foundation for his/her nutrition, growth and immunity, it is of utmost importance that mothers pay additional attention to feeding in the first few months. Breastfeeding has many advantages to both baby and mother including higher intelligence in baby, better bonding as well as prevention of various diseases in later life. Breast milk provides the best nutrition to your baby. All efforts should be made to give exclusive breast milk to your child till 6 months of age.
Your baby’s feeding schedule:
It is recommended that your baby is fed every 2-3 hours in the first 2-3 weeks. Initially, you should be feeding your child at least 8-10 times per day.
After 2-3 weeks your baby should be on-demand feeding, by this time your baby will sleep for longer periods especially during the day.
Babies are generally awake during the night and will demand frequent feeding. This sleep pattern may continue for few months.
Opening of the mouth, sucking movements, taking hands to their mouth are feeding cues. Babies should be fed whenever they give such hints. Crying is the last feeding, you should not wait for your child to cry.
Avoid feeding anything to the baby apart from breast milk and prescribed medications for the first 6 months. Prelacteal feeds in form of water, honey, ghuti should not be given.
Gradually, the number of feedings will go down. As the baby gets older, they'll nurse less often and have longer stretches between feedings.
The use of a breast pump to express breast milk to feed the baby may be recommended for mothers who cannot breastfeed directly. It is important to maintain proper temperature & use a sterilised bottle while feeding the baby
Baby’s sleeping and feeding patterns may be erratic for the first 1-2 months. Feel rest assured, by 3 months you will be able to recognise a pattern as babies start to form a schedule.
Start complementary feeding after 6 months. Remember complementary feeding is in addition to breastmilk and not a substitute for it. Continue breastfeeding for at least 2 years or even longer.
About the author: - Dr Gaurav Mogra, Consultant Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Indore.