Reasons for Feeding Sooner than 2.5 Hours

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On page 115, On Becoming Babywise talks about several reasons you would feed sooner than the 2.5 hour mark. These reasons include hungry baby, low milk supply, growth spurts, medical reasons, desire to go to bed earlier, and early morning feedings. Let’s discuss each of these.

Hungry Baby

There are lots of reasons a baby might be hungry, and those will be discussed below. “…just know that hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed less than two hours” (page 115).

Hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed baby less than two hours later.

Hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed baby less than two hours later.

Hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed baby less than two hours later.

Okay, whew, I think I got that simple point across. It seems to be a hard one for some people to understand when they decide to bash Babywise, claiming you starve a baby.

Hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed baby less than two hours later.

I am not making this up. Page 115. Last sentence of second paragraph.

Low Milk Supply

You can have a low milk supply for various reasons.

The first and most common is simply that by the end of the day, you have been running around taking care of at least one child and whatever else you have going on. The energy and stress of the day can possibly affect your milk supply. If so, your baby will need to eat more often.

I definitely needed to feed Brayden and Kaitlyn at two hour intervals in the evening hours–so around 5/5:30 and then around 7/7:30.

With McKenna, she didn’t need the food that often for whatever reason. However, for a short period, we did cluster feeding, which is feeding every two hours. See this post for more on cluster feeding Baby Whisperer: Sleeping Through the Night and see also the cluster feeding blog label.

You can also have milk supply issues for other reasons. If you have low supply and need to boost it, you can feed more often. There are also other things you can do to improve milk supply. For some babies, they won’t necessarily need to nurse as often as you want to to boost supply. In those cases, I would recommend you get a good pump to get the extra stimulation in. Many hospitals will rent them out for a good price. See this post for more: Milk Supply Limit.

Growth Spurts

Growth spurts are a reality. They happen usually every 3-4 weeks. I have written extensively on growth spurts, so see Index: Growth Spurts for more.

Medical Reasons

There are a variety of medical reasons for feeding often. Some premature babies might need to be fed more often. Small full-term babies might need to feed more often. Babies with jaundice need to feed more often. Babies with reflux might need to feed  more often.

Always consult with and listen to your baby’s doctor on these issues. Also, don’t be afraid to feed more often if your baby has a medical issue that might require it and you feel like it would be beneficial.


If you do a dreamfeed, you might feed at two hours just so you can go to bed earlier.

Early Morning Feedings

This is a situation when  you feed sooner than three hours just to keep everything on track. This is the situation when baby wakes at 5 AM hungry and your normal start time to the day is 7 AM. For extensive information on this scenario, see Early Morning Feedings Before Waketime.


There are lots of reasons to feed baby sooner than the 2.5 hour mark–and they are all legitimate. If  you find  your self feeding more often for these reasons, that’s okay! That is part of normal life.

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook


  1. Sarah
    May 3, 2011 / 1:21 AM

    Thank you for this!

  2. Scottkids
    May 3, 2011 / 3:24 AM

    I know!! I find it so annoying that the book is criticized for that, and it is not even the truth! The book clearly states that you should feed your baby under those circumstances!!

  3. miraclebaby
    May 3, 2011 / 3:31 AM

    Val, Thanks for this! My LO is 4 days old and I was just facing this predicament…awesome to open your blog and see the answer to my question right away! Thanks!Angel

  4. Heather
    May 3, 2011 / 1:52 PM

    This is a great post! I find it so ironic when I see people bashing BW because of its "rigid scheduling." I actually ran into the opposite problem early on — I was so worried about making sure my infant had enough to eat that I was following the BW advice to treat early wakings as a hunger problem first…ended up feeding, feeding, feeding for weeks until our pediatrician finally told his it was o.k. to back off and start working on getting him to sleep longer:)

  5. Kristin
    May 5, 2011 / 2:39 AM

    Thanks for this! I often wonder if critics of bw have read the book???!!! The other point that is criticized is "rigid" scheduling but I never see that either- instead I see "the schedule should serve you" and keep everything in context and change when you need to.

  6. Plowmanators
    May 18, 2011 / 9:03 PM

    You are all welcome!

  7. Plowmanators
    May 18, 2011 / 9:05 PM

    Kristin, I think most have not read the book and have only read online and heard from friends what is in it.But others have surprisingly read it and seem to just have reading comprehension issues. That is why I like to point out what the book DOES say along with page numbers so things can be crystal clear as to what is actually said. 🙂

  8. LeeSwim4us
    March 21, 2012 / 9:40 PM

    Thanks so much for your blog, I did BW with my firstborn and everything was wonderful! Now with the second only 4.5 weeks old, I am on your blog every day to learn more – you'd think I would be an expert my second time around!We are having a lot of issues with nursing. Because of weight gain issues, he has been taking his 7 feedings / day of 4-5 oz since he was 2 weeks old with 2 of those 7 feedings being nursing so that he stays familiar. Now he is 4.5 weeks old and I've tried to increase the number of nursing sessions but he seems to only get 2-3 oz per feeding when he nurses (I can guess because of my pumped amount after a nursing session). Then he wakes up early hungry after those nursing times. I want to get back to exclusively nursing but how do I encourage my little guy to take more at each nursing? He tends to fall asleep and we work hard (for an hour at times!) to keep him away for a "full feed". He seems content and happy but obviously isn't getting enough. Should I switch back to 2 hour nursing sessions? Will he be able to eventually take more than 2-3 oz from the breast? When? I feel so silly having problems nursing my second!

  9. Plowmanators
    April 5, 2012 / 4:44 AM

    He might be getting more than 2-3 ounces. A pump won't get as much after he eats than it would without him eating. It could be that he is not interested in working as hard to nurse–bottles are easier. He is definitely young enough you can get back on breastfeeding. I think I would go into it thinking it would take 2 weeks to get there, but it would likely go faster.Be sure you are relaxed so you get good letdown while he is eating. Good luck!

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