The benefits of feeding on demand vs Schedule
August 9, 2020
When do you feed your baby? Do you follow a strict schedule or can you be flexible and allow your baby to choose when to feed? Here we answer these questions and give you reasons why one is better than the other.
The most important benefits of feeding on demand are:
Your baby will get the full benefit of every feed
Research shows that your milk production will depend on when and how much your baby feeds. When you feed on demand, you establish a schedule that matches your baby’s. When your baby is hungry, he/she will feed more and suckle strongly. This need is essential to establish a good milk supply. Your baby will empty your breast and so get the benefit of the first milk which has more water to quench thirst and the hind milk that is high on fat.
If you feed on schedule, your baby may be sleepy when at the time or may not be hungry enough to even latch on correctly. The baby will not feed as much as necessary and will feel hungry soon. The baby will also not get the full benefit of your milk. It may not be time to feed as per the schedule so you will not feed your baby. Your baby’s whole world will seem to crash down as hunger is painful for the infant. It will make the baby cranky and the next feed will not go as planned. This will establish a vicious cycle that can be broken only by feeding on demand.
Your baby will be emotionally balanced
When your baby feels hungry, it is one of the most painful experiences in his/her short life. Your baby’s whole existence seems threatened. So, waiting for a fixed time to feed will cause great anxiety and pain. When you lift your crying baby and hold him/ her skin to skin, your baby’s normal world is restored. He/ she is enveloped in a warm blanket of comfort with the reassurance that you will always be there in every need. This establishes a strong bond between you and your baby and promotes emotional and psychological well-being.
How to recognise if your baby is hungry?
Your baby will become alert, mouth or make sucking motions, suck on hands, turn towards you or your hands when you brush his/her cheek. These are the first signs. As hunger increases, your baby becomes fussy and starts crying.
If you initiate feeding in the early stages, your baby will always get a good feed. If your baby gets cranky, you will have problems in establishing even a proper latch, so your baby will not be able to feed well.
There is no fixed rule or schedule that can be followed universally. Follow your baby’s lead and feed whenever your baby demands. This will establish a healthy and happy relationship with your baby and make every feed an enjoyable bonding time.
If you have any questions or need any support or guidance contact Dr. Rela Hospital. We provide comprehensive lactation guidance to get through your initial months of motherhood.