When to Drop a Feed

I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of letting other people get in my head. Especially when it comes to babies. After a check-up or at the beginning of a new month, I would read all about typical milestones and schedules. Sometimes my kid was right along with the pack, and sometimes, she was different. Over the past few months, I have learned to trust my gut and trust my kid when it comes to these things.



A few months ago, I was worried about how many feedings my baby was getting. It was 6 feedings per day plus 3 meals of solids. We had settled into a pretty rock solid routine. Sleeping through the night, two naps a day. Everybody was happy. But… in my head were the echoes of the pediatrician saying that the feedings would gradually taper down. Was it time? Other babies were only having 4-5 feeds a day.


I was feeding her at certain times (roughly every 2.5 hours), and she rarely gave me cues about hunger. So I ran an experiment. What would happen if I just waited for the cues? Truly feeding “on demand”? Well. I tried it.


And the results? Right before naps and meals… that’s when she was hungry. So I would nurse her and sometimes she would fall asleep on me, or wake up even more, and then we fought the nap, so then we were overtired… the whole day was shot. But I learned that I was pretty much nailing it on the feeding times.


So we stuck with the six feeds for a while. Then, a few weeks later, I noticed something curious. My wee little sweet one was popping off the boob at her two mid-day feeds (11 am and 2 pm). Anything and everything was a distraction. A suckle here, a sip there, a swallow or two later… But then she was off to the races, checking out that super fascinating tree out our window, craning to see what the dogs were doing, ready to play, laugh, sing and be entertained by anything other than my bosom.


So I ran another experiment. What if I added a snack of solids when she woke up from her nap and then pushed her late morning feed to a mid-day lunch time feed, and dropped the early afternoon one? One Friday, I tried it and it worked like a dream. She was genuinely entertained with her snack, and when we carted one along to story time at the library, she looked around at the other babies with their snacks and seemed pleased-as-punch that she had her own. She looked around with a satisfied grin, as if to see, “Check it out! We’re all eating our snacks!”


And her 5 feeds were great. They were more focused and efficient. Less wiggling, more snuggling. I was so pleased. A few weeks later, I noticed a similar issue during her mid-day feeding. So I added another snack and we've dropped down to 4 feedings, one first thing in the morning, one after each nap, and one before bed times. She eats 3 meals and 2 snacks. It's working great for us!


I had so much worry about whether or not I needed to do something different, when really, I just needed to tune back in to that sweet little baby and listen to her cues. That’s the thing I am learning about these little humans: they’re going to do what they’re going to do when they’re going to do it. Which is to say- don’t rush things. Nothing magically changes when the clock strikes midnight on their monthly birthday. I’m still learning a lot at this mama gig, but that’s one thing that keeps coming around and ringing true.



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