Monday, March 21, 2011

Newborn Evening Feeding Schedule

Many times, new parents worry about feeding baby "too often" when following a routine or schedule. Page 115 in On Becoming Babywise talks about different reasons you might feed more often than 2.5 hours. One of the reasons listed is just that baby is more hungry in the evening for whatever reason.

I know there are many of you who worry about feeding a baby every two hours in the evening--don't worry. I am here to rest your minds at ease and make sure you know it is okay. Not all babies will need this, but a lot do.

Both Brayden and Kaitlyn naturally needed this every two hours in the evening at some point.

McKenna never needed it, but I did institute it when I tried cluster feeding (which is feeding every two hours in evening).

So all three of my kids had feedings at every two hours at some point in the early months. 

If your baby needs this, too, don't be afraid to do so. It is perfectly normal.

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46 comments:

Kelly said...

While you are on the subject of night time and newborns....
Is it unusual for our newborns (twins) not to be sleeping through the night if we have been following BW? They will be 8 weeks tomorrow and were born at 37 weeks. We usually average 4 hrs.

So glad I found your blog :)

Angela said...

Kelly,
I'm definetly not as experianced with the Babywise Series as the author of this blog but, I just have a thought.
If they were born at 37 weeks, their adjusted age is only 5 weeks. I would say to continue to follow the Babywise schedule, make sure they are getting enough feedings during the day and with time, they'll start to sleep longer. They are still so young. Hang in there...been sleep deprived is hard!

Mutterfluff said...

My daughter ate pretty much every two hours for her first two months of life. I didn't start BW till after that, but neither did I do on-demand feeding- that's just when she was hungry. Maybe if she'd been napping she could have lasted longer, who knows..

Donners said...

My baby slept through the night at 9 weeks and we did cluster feeding ( 4 and then 6 pm) until she was around 4 months I think.
It's a time when milk supply is a bit low anyway so may as well let the baby build it up!

She is now 9 months and sleeps like a log 7pm to 7am ( or 6:30 pm to 7am if we were too busy for long sleeps). Cluster feeding does not create a habit of 2 hour feeds, I think it just tanks them up to last longer and boosts the milk supply in the process.

Kelly said...

hmm... cluster feeding, I never thought of trying that! thanks!

Jamie said...

If you cluster feed, do you have them nap in between? So if I feed at 4/6/8, he would nap between 4 and 6 for sure, but what about between 6 and 8? Do they just take 2 really short naps right before bed?

Teacher Lady said...

I'm having a problem timing the wake time for my 6 week old. I have to wake him up for eating times and he starts to yawn mid feed. I'm not sure if that's him still waking up from the previous nap or if he's ready to go down for another nap. I've been trying very hard to keep him awake during the eating times so he gets a full feed. I've searched this site high and low for an answer to this but can't find anything. Any help would be great! Thanks!

Teacher Lady said...

BTW, we're on a 3 hr schedule and we just started CIO this week. He'll cry in the beginning of his nap for 5 min, then off for 5, then on... then he'll sleep about 30-40 min, then cry 5, off about 5, then on and sleep again for 30-40 min. By the time he's finally asleep, I have to wake him for his next feeding.

snydsy33 said...

I totally agree with Donners. I cluster fed both my girls, although my first DD I fed too-much, probably making her tummy hurt. But both of them slept through the night by 7-9 weeks, and consistently slept 12 hours a night by 6 months. I think tanking them up is a natural way to help them get the nutrition they need in their little bodies to make it through the night. And the sooner you can get them to STTN, the sooner their bodies get on a right schedule, which will help all their growth and development, mentally and physically. Also makes mom's life a lot better too. The only thing I had to do differently than these books tell you is that I couldn't do the dream feeds. If I got my girls for a DF after they had gone to bed, then they'd be up every three or four hours. That part didn't work for me. :)

jaclyn wilson said...

Is it okay to feed at 2 hours in the evening but stretch to 3 1/2 in the morning? I have to wake my daughter up from her 1st nap most days, but since we started cluster feeding at night she is STTN much better. Is it okay to let her go that extra half hour in the morning and adjust the rest of the day accordingly? Or should I wait until she stretches out those evening feedings?

Thanks!

Austyn said...

Jamie, I cluster feed my 10 week old at 4/6/8. I think I started this when he was 3 or 4 weeks old. He used to take 2 short naps, once after 4, once after 6, then bed at 8. The last couple of weeks, he's just had a short nap after 4 and no nap between 6 and 8, which I've decided to use as bath time after my husband and I eat dinner.

Val, my question for you is something I've wondering about for a week or two as he's seemed less eager for the cluster feeds in the evening. We are currently on a 3 hour daytime schedule 7/10/1/4/6/8 (evening cluster) with a scheduled night feed at 4 am. I have no wish to drop the 4am because that's when I will feed him in the morning before work when I go back.

I think we may be ready to go to a 4 hour schedule because I have to wake him from naps more often now to eat. I'm not sure if I should stretch out the day and still cluster or try to drop the cluster first. I am afraid of disrupting his night sleep by not getting enough in the evenings. I would appreciate any guidance you can provide!

Plowmanators said...

Kelly, not unusual at all. First, some people would say to do "adjusted age" which would put them at 5 weeks instead of 8. Second, Babywise says it is normal to take until 12 weeks to STTN. In my experience, they sometimes take longer.

Plowmanators said...

Jamie, some might nap between both, some might between just one. I don't think it is a good idea to not nap between both. And for a baby with a 1 hour waketime, they would just nap for 1 hour--so a short nap.

I would shoot for napping between 4/6, then considering between 6/8 optional based on the baby's needs.

Plowmanators said...

Teacher lady, How long are his feeds? If they are 20-30 minutes, I would not take that as a nap cue as in "I must go to sleep right now." Breastfeeding makes babies sleepy.

If he is eating for 45 minutes, he might be ready for a nap.

For more on optimal waketime, see that label or the waketime section in the blog index (see tab above).

It also might just be that he is tired from the new CIO.

Plowmanators said...

jaclyn, yes, that would be fine. :)

Plowmanators said...

Austyn,

How long do you plan on feeding him at 4AM once you go back to work? You might have to turn that into a pumping session for you rather than a nursing--it won't be good for him to be woken at that time unless you put him to bed around 5 in the evening.

I would work on dropping the cluster feeding first. Hogg (the cluster lady) says to not do it beyond 8 weeks. I did with McKenna, but with that info, I would say drop the cluster before moving to a 4 hour schedule.

Austyn said...

Thanks for your feedback. You were on spring break when I posted this, so I just experimented on my own. You anticipated you next question regarding the 4am feeding. I did drop the cluster feed first, going to a 4am/7/10/2/5/8pm, and he did just fine with one 4 hour interval. When he began to sleep through feeding times again, I went to a 3.5 hour routine, still with 6 meals for a couple of days, and then switched to a 4 hour routine with 5 meals (4a/8/12/4/8p) without a problem. It really went much smoother than I thought it would, even with a growth spurt, we were able to go back to the 4 hour easily. Thanks so much for your suggestions.

How long do you think I can keep up the 4am feed without doing him a disservice? I pretty much do it like a dreamfeed and he goes right back to sleep until 7am waketime. I know I will like having that time with him in the morning, but I don't want to cause him a problem. I go back to work in about 2.5 weeks, when he will be 15 weeks old. He's big boy (15 lbs. at 10 weeks). If I keep this schedule, I will still be able to nurse him 3/5 meals, which is very appealing. I am not looking forward to going back :o(

Plowmanators said...

Austyn, I don't think you can go much longer with 4 AM feeds. I think he can go maybe to 4-5 months old. At some point, even dreamfeeds start to interfere with healthy sleep as the baby gets older. I am sorry you are having a hard time :( Best of luck to you.

Christina said...

I have a question regarding our 4 week old baby girl. She is a very good baby, we start her morning at 6:30 (I work full time and will be commuting with her to the sitter once my 12 week FMLA is up). Therefore, I figure I will breast feed her at 6:30, leave at 7 with her for work. Anyways, during the day she eats every 3 hours until about 4:30-5:30'ish, when she gets hungry. I have been cluster feeding at 5:30 and will try again at 7:30. Last night she went 4 hours between night feedings. Am I doing this right, or should I try a dream feed? We tried it at 2 weeks and she just woke up on her 3 hour schedule again. I am trying to aid her in sleeping longer at night, but she is only getting 6 feedings before the 7:30 cluster, so I assume she will still need to get up 2 times at night? She is about 9 lbs right now. Thanks for any advice.

Plowmanators said...

Christina, I would try a dreamfeed, too. The Baby Whisperer says the dreamfeed is superior to the cluster feeding if you can only do one, so I would shoot for that. Good luck!

Lana said...

I asked a question on another post, but this seems a better place to put it, so if you already answered it on the other post, you can skip this one... Anyway, my 3 week old (who is bottle fed due to a very low milk supply on my part) is on a pretty consistent 7-10-1-4 schedule during the day. I do a dreamfeed at 10 or 10:30, then she wakes on her own at 1 or 1:30 and 4or 4:30. Other info is that she has trouble falling asleep at bedtime (8:00) and again after her 4 a.m. feeding. Last night she had a 10:30 dreamfeed, woke on her own and ate at 1:30 and 5:15, then was up by 7:00 (our normal start time) ready to eat again. I am wanting to try to extend her nighttime sleep, but I am thinking she is waking out of habit right now. How do I get her to stretch her sleeping after the dreamfeed? I was thinking about cluster feeding and then skipping the dreamfeed, but I just read that you say the dreamfeed should trump the cluster feeding. Or can you do both cluster feeding and a dreamfeed? How would that work? 4-6-8 then 10:30 or so? And if I cluster feed, how do you do bedtime? I usually feed at 7, then bath and songs/prayers, then bed at 8:00. Would I do a feeding at 6, have a longer than normal waketime (her normal waketime is 45 - 60 min.), feed her at 8:00 and put her right to bed? I kinda didn't want to put her to bed right after a bottle, though, not wanting her to get used to falling asleep to a bottle. So, I guess I'm confused with the cluster feeding thing. My main question is just how to extend her night sleep without her waking every three hours. Thanks!

Lana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aquanetor said...

Hi!

Need your help and advice for my slightly over 4 week old newborn girl.

She is currently on a 3 hourly schedule and her day routine of wake-feed-sleep works fine except for an evening feed at about 8pm.

She usually refuses to go to sleep after 8pm feed and remains very fussy and crying for about 2 hours despite us trying various ways putting her to sleep.

We realized that the only way she finally settles down is after being fussy for 2 hours, we give her a bottle feeding and that will usually put her to sleep.

I remember Babywise indicates to put the baby to sleep immediately at night feed without waketime. My question is should we put her to sleep immediately after the 8pm feed or to continue practice the feed-wake-sleep routine after this feed.

In any case, she just simply refuses to sleep after the 8pm feed and stays awake being fussy until we feed her again usually after 1.5 to 2 hours.

Could the reason for this behavour be due to colic or gas?

Ushi said...

Hi. I just found this blog while looking for a sleep solution for my baby. My baby is 13 weeks old and I'm trying to sleep train her so she sleeps through the night. Her ped suggested that we feed her at 8 then 12 am. And let her cry it out till 6am. I am on my second night of this and its really hard hearing her cry. I was wondering if I'm doing this correctly. She had cried for an hr the first night. And abt 1.5 hrs tonight. I'm wondering of I should try cluster feeding her at 4 6 and 8 as well. Maybe it will help her sleep better. Any suggestion u have will be really helpful. She was getting up every 3 hrs at night that is why I'm trying to sleep train her.

Plowmanators said...

Aquanator,

You can try the going to sleep immediately, but check out the "witching hour" posts. My guess is that is what you have going on.

Plowmanators said...

Ushi,

I would do cluster feeding like you said. I would also try a dreamfeed around 10/10:30 (but be sure to put to bed after the 8 feeding. See posts on dreamfeed for more on that). Then I would let her sleep until she wakes.

I don't know what else you are doing so far as sleep in the day and feedings in the day. Do a 2.5-3 hour feeding routine all day. Do regular naps. I would teach her to sleep on her own in the day before having her cry at night. Good luck!

Kelley E. said...

Hi! I need babywise advice! My husband and I recently adopted a newborn. A lot of people have recommended the book Babywise so I have read it, but I'm not sure how to start with a 5 week old who is not breastfed. For the past few days I have put her on a 3 hr feeding schedule, just because I wasn't sure where to start. Before that, she would sometimes go 4-5 and occasionally even 6 hours in the daytime but at night it was often just 2 hour before she would be ready to eat again. We let her sleep until she was ready to eat (even if it was 6 hrs) because the pediatrician said since she was gaining weight that she should be fine. So, I guess my question is- should I stick to a 3 hr schedule (and just let her sleep as long as she will at night), and how do you know when to stretch your time to a longer time frame? Thanks for all of the help!

Plowmanators said...

Kelley E.,

Yes, I would do a three hour in the day. Then at night let her go as long as she will--but do a "dreamfeed." So feed her around 7/8ish, then put in bed, then get her up around 10/10:30 to eat, but try to not wake her. Then get her up around 7/8 in the morning if she isn't up.

For stretching, see the "four hour schedule" posts. Long answer shortened--it is when she is needing to be woken from each nap a day AND sleeping through the night. Some people wait until the dreamfeed is dropped also.

Reid said...

I have a nine week old that is still waking for a 1:30am feeding. how can I eliminate this feeding? Should I wait until he does it on his own, should I wean him off by slowly reducing the oz, or do I let him cry it out? Also right now he is eating 6oz 8 times a day for a total of 48oz when one feeding is eliminated do I up the oz of the rest to equal about the same so 7 7oz feedings?

Tara said...

I have 6 week old twins that are on a 3 hour feeding schedule during the day. I like the feeding times of 6,9,12,3,6,9 because that's going to work the best when I go back to work in 4 weeks.
But during the night I have been letting them wake on their own to feed. I have 2 problems with this: it throws the schedule off for the next day and I can't seem to get back in track, and I have no idea when I'm supposed to let the cry it out during the night or when they are hungry! I don't want to starve them but I don't want to feed if it isn't neccesary.
What should I do? Should I set a regular over night schedule and then just start dropping feeds over night?

Plowmanators said...

Reid, you can do any of the options you listed. I know moms who have done any one of those with success. The best thing for you to do is to decide what you think is best.

I didn't formula feed, so I can't say for sure if you add those seven ounces in the rest of the day. My guess is yes, but I don't know for sure.

Plowmanators said...

Tara, I wouldn't do regular feedings at night because then it sets up a schedule that is hard to break in the future.

I just feed in the night when the baby wakes. Then even if they wake at 4, feed them again at 6 since that is what you want to end up with.

Kelley E. said...

What time is your "last" feeding of the day and what time is the "first" feeding? We formula fed and our daughter started sleeping through the night right around the 8 week mark. Actually, right around that time was when we realized she was waking up and crying, but not necessarily hungry. We gave her a paci and she would go back to sleep. The first few days she'd wake up around 1:30, we'd give her the paci, then she would wake 10 minutes later, then 20 minutes later. Sometimes we'd have to give her the paci 2-3 times, but we could tell that she wasn't really hungry. After a couple of days of that, she was sleeping through the night. We would do a dreem feed at 10:30 or 11 before we went to bed and then she would sleep until about 7am. She's 7 months old now, and still a great sleeper.

Rhonda said...

Val,
Thanks for this post! I currently have a 3-week-old boy who is pretty much on a 2.5 hour schedule. His daytime starts at 8 am, and night starts at 8 pm. He eats at 8, 10:30, 1, 3:30, and then I lose the schedule, and just feed him when he seems hungry to try and tank him up. But this seems to get me into feeding him at 5pm, 6, 7, and possibly at 8pm, then he still wakes 2-3 times a night. Should I try going to every 2 hrs after the 3:30 feeding? So 5:30, 7:30, then bed. I'm afraid he'll wake even more. I can't do anything for the next few days, he's in the growth spurt and has a cold. Poor thing! I'm feeding every 2 hrs to hope and get more sleep tonight. He's gaining weight like a champ though, he's gained almost 2 lbs in 3 weeks. So my milk supply is fine. Just need help with that evening schedule. My 2 girls were both BF and did wonderful, STTN around 2-3 months. B ut I've always had this schedule problem with the newborns.

Danelle said...

Hi, my son is 7 weeks old and i was wondering if it is too early to start CIO with him. We have been doing it for about 3 days now. He refused to sleep during the day and then cry the whole time cause he is tired. Then around 6 or 7pm he would fall asleep after a feed and then sleep for 5 to 6 hours. Now i feed him every 3 hours during the day 6am/9/12/3pm/6/9. He sometimes fall asleep not long after i put him down but sometimes he will cry and cry and by the time he falls asleep its almost time for his next feeding. Is this normal? Should i continue with the CIO? Will it get easier? How long can it take for him to stop crying when we do put him down to sleep? Hope you can help. I am a firt time mom and all this is so new and difficult for me.

Plowmanators said...

Kelley,

First would be your morning waketime, so for you around 7 AM.

Last could be called the "dreamfeed" or some could call it the one before the dreamfeed.

Plowmanators said...

Rhonda, I would definitely try to get some more consistency with your afternnon/evening feedings. It will help to have more full meals and it will also mean naps will be more consistent, which will prevent overtiredness.

Plowmanators said...

Danelle, if you feel good about it, go for it!

Read through the CIO bootcamp post and also the "Optimal Waketime" post for some help in getting him to sleep instead of cry so much.

BlakesJourney said...

Our 11 week old currently feeds at 10:30/11:30, 3:00, and 6am. We want to drop the 3 am but we don't know if it's time. He usually takes a bottle at that time, but lately he has been refusing bottles. I have resorted to breastfeeding him at 3am, and while he does make the little mouth movements, he. doesn't root like he typically does, and he seems to be soothed by being held. Is it time to try to drop the 3am?

Mallory Goodall said...

HELP!

I have a 4 week old boy. He was a pretty regular 3 hour feeder until the last few days. Now he wants to eat 2oz every 2 hours vs 3oz or 4oz every 3. As of today he'll be napping upstairs (my two year old was waking him too often downstairs) So I'm hoping some peace and quiet might help him.

Any advice on stretching his feedings? Also, if he wakes early from a nap should i feed him immediately to keep on the eat play sleep? Entertain him? Or let him CIO?

Thanks!

Unknown said...

hi, thanks so much for creating this blog! i am a first time mom and have been doing BW since day 1. my son is 7 weeks old, 14.8 lbs and has been on a 3 hour schedule (7,10,1,4,7,10) since just about birth. he sleeps about 5 hours at night, i feed him and put him back down until 7 and we start again. i was rereading BW last week and on p 113 it states that b/w 5-8 weeks you will feed every 2.5-3.5 hours. i thought maybe i could try to get him to 3.5 hours and we tried it for about 6 days. he did well going 7/7:30, 10:30/11, 2/2:30, 5:30/6 and then i was pushing him to 10 for a DF, and feeding him once in the middle of the night. i then talked to a lactation consultant about some pumping questions i had and she basically told me he should be eating 8-10 times a day. this, of course, is not the case with the 3 hour or the 3.5 hour schedules. so i got nervous and second guessed myself and went back to the 3 hour. my question is--is it too early for him to be on a 3.5 hour schedule? should i continue with the 3 hour, and, if so, when do i move towards going longer? he did well on the 3.5 hour schedule, but i don't want to take away a feeding if it's not good for him developmentally. thanks so much for your help--BW is a good tool, but i get so confused in the application!

Plowmanators said...

Okay so the 3.5 shouldn't be straight at that age and shouldn't be to the point of dropping a feeding. What I have done is a 3.5 hour interval in the morning, maybe even for the next interval, then 2.5-3 hours for the others. You don't want to be dropping any day feedings when you still have a nigt feeding. So you could do:

7
10:30
2:00
4:30
7:00
10:00

Then you will have your nigt feeding. You could do 5 pm, 7:30 pm, then 10 pm also.

The Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EQN said...

We have an almost 4 week old Boy who has been doing wonderfully on BW from day 1 and sleeps well at night. He's currently on a 2.5 hr daytime schedule - 7a,9:30a,12p, 2:30p,5p,7:30/8pm - but he will not wake for a dreamfeed or eat while sleeping (it takes me up to an hour to get him to latch). This week I've been letting him sleep from bedtime at 8:30-9 until he wakes, which is usually almost 1am, then he sleeps until waking naturally for our 'scheduled' 3:30am feed and again until the 7am wakeup. He's gaining 1.5oz/day (!!) right - born at 7lb3oz and will be 10lb by his 4 wk bday, so he's certainly eating plenty and growing plenty.

My question is whether I'm setting us up for an issue to STTN by skipping his dream feed or if someone has advise on how to manage the transitioning given our current schedule of 7:30/8pm, 1am, 3:30am, 7am. Can I just work on extending that 1am to 1:30 and so on until we can merge with the 3:30 (replace 1am & 3:30 with a 2am?) or am I asking too much to start this from the early night feed?

Valerie Plowman said...

If he won't eat, there isn't a lot you can do.

Let me say, kaitlyn was the same way. I remember many frustrating nights trying to get her to take a dreamfeed. It was frustrating to me to have stayed awake that long for basically nothing.

I kept trying and she eventually did take the dreamfeed.

So I value it enough that I really out a lot of effort into establishing it.

If you don't do it, in the long run, it will be okay. You just need to have your expectations set that you willowy likely have nighttime feedings

Valerie Plowman said...

Sorry my phone gets weird--you will have nighttime feedings longer than you would if you had a dreamfeed. Managing expectations is important for the sanity if motherhood :)

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