How do I Set up a Breastfeeding Schedule?

Article Details
  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

A new mother can establish a breastfeeding schedule by watching a clock during nursing sessions to learn how frequently her baby needs to eat and guarantee she receives an adequate supply of milk. Mothers may need to wake their newborns while nursing so that they completely drain both breasts. The process of weaning may begin around six months of age at which time table foods begin to gradually replace nursing sessions. Most babies stop nursing completely between one and two years of age.

Doctors recommend that babies be breastfed until they have reached their first birthdays. The breastfeeding schedule established by the mother at birth will require modifications as the child develops and her nutritional needs change. These alterations will allow both mother and child to prepare themselves for an eventual weening when they are both ready, nutritionally and emotionally.


Newborns typically need to eat every two to three hours, and will wake during the night to maintain this cycle. The mother can establish a breastfeeding schedule by watching the clock when her child cries during her first week to determine how frequently she needs milk, and then equating it with other activities, such as consistently feeding the baby on every odd or even hour. The baby should be allowed to remain at each breast between ten and fifteen minutes to adequately drain them. The two or three hour gap between feedings should be measured at the start time of each feeding. For example, if a baby cries to eat at one and nurses for a half hour, then she will need to be fed again at three.

Very young babies tend to fall asleep during these meals because the sucking motion and the sensation of being close to their mother combined are extremely relaxing. New mothers can keep the baby interested by gently massaging her limbs, removing any blankets, and stroking her jaw or cheeks. The baby should be wakened frequently until she has completed her allotted nursing time to ensure that she has received a full supply of milk. If she is allowed to sleep after nursing for only five minutes, then she will wake up hungry earlier and the breastfeeding schedule will not work.

Mothers may begin the weening process around six months of age by introducing one meal of pureed baby food. Babies of this age no longer need to eat during the night, and if they are still waking, should be allowed to put themselves back to sleep or be soothed without nursing. A new meal can be worked into the breastfeeding schedule by eliminating one feeding or reducing the amount of time spent nursing. Some mothers prefer to introduce this at the time when their milk supply feels lowest, such as late afternoon. Baby should typically be made to eat her food first when her stomach is empty, and then allowed to nurse for a few minutes after.

Breastfeeding sessions may be decreased one meal at a time as the baby and her nutritional needs become more complex. One meal per day may be increased in size and frequency until baby is eating three semi-large meals per day around eight months of age. At that time, she will typically still need between 18 and 20 ounces (511 to 568 milliliters) of breast milk as well.



Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?