Understanding Baby Hunger Patterns

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Learn why it is so important to feed your baby at the same times each day while you are establishing a daily schedule or routine.

baby ready to eat and hungry

One of the most important things you can do to get your baby on a consistent schedule is work to have baby eat at the same times day after day.

This can be much easier said than done. Your baby might now wake up when you expect her to. You might not want to wake up in the morning to get baby up at the same time each day.

If you want a predictable routine day after day, however, this is something you need to focus on, work toward, and be willing to sacrifice for.

Consistent Feedings Lead to Consistent Hunger

I remember when I first started high school. Do you know what was one of the hardest things about high school?

Lunchtime.

Why?

Because at our school, we couldn’t all fit in the lunch room, so we had two or three (can’t remember right now) lunch sessions.

We also had alternating schedules, called “A” day and “B” day. Every other day, we had a different schedule. Four classes on A day and four different classes on B day.

We also had the potential to have lunch at different times. I was one who had it that way.

So one day lunch was at 11:30. Another, it wasn’t until 12:30. Talk about difficult for a teenager! There was no consistency to my eating, so my body had no idea what to do.

If you eat at the same time each day, that is the time your body will get hungry.

On Becoming Babywise says,

“…the hunger mechanism (digestion and absorption) operates as if it has a metabolic memory reinforced by routine”.

(page 48)

So if your baby eats at the same times, she will be hungry at the same times.

Why you need to feed baby at the same times daily if you want a consistent schedule

That is why it works to have baby get up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

That is why it is worth your efforts to track your schedule each day so you can find patterns in what works and what doesn’t.

That is why you want to work to get waketime length down correctly so you can make sure baby can take great naps.

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There are Exceptions

Granted there are things that can change this focus on consistency.

Think back to being pregnant. There are times when you are hungry all day long. This will be true for a baby, too, as she enters growth spurts.

There also might be times she doesn’t eat well for one meal, in which case she might be hungry sooner than her usual time for the next meal.

>>>Read: Baby Growth Spurts: Everything You Need To Know

Focus on Consistency

Consistency really pays off when you are establishing hunger patterns.

Keep this in mind as you are starting to establish a consistent morning time for baby to wake up.

The recommendation is to keep the time of the first feeding consistent within 30 minutes each day. That means a 30-minute sway total, not 30 minutes in either direction. So from 7:15-7:45 or 7:30-8:00 etc.

Feed baby within this window each morning so she will be hungry at that time each morning.

If baby wakes early from naps, you might wonder what to do. If baby is not hungry, and you do not have a really consistent schedule from day to day yet, then wait to feed baby until the normal feeding time so you can establish that hunger pattern.

>>>Read: What To Do When Baby Wakes Early But Isn’t Hungry

Conclusion

If you are trying to establish a predictable routine, keep this idea in mind. The times you feed baby establish baby’s hunger patterns.

Eating at the same times each day means the child will get hungry at the same times each day. Do watch for growth spurts because they happen often. Feed your baby when your baby is hungry. But when baby isn’t hungry, worked toward that daily consistency.

And don’t worry, once you get baby on a consistent schedule, you can have days where you sleep in without throwing the next month off. You can have some flexibility once you have a solid foundation.

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Understanding baby hunger patterns

This post originally appeared on this blog October 2010

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