Demand Feeding: Feed the baby is hungry

Your grandmother, or even your mother, may have fed the baby whenever the baby seemed hungry or cried. This is called the self demand schedule. Later, it must have become customary to feed the baby at fixed times according to the clock, three hourly for a baby below 3 kg and four hourly for a baby above that weight.

Demand Feeding

Demand Feeding [(Excerpts from You and Your Child]

Earlier, even if the baby cried, he was not given a feed unless it was time for his food. It all sounds so senseless and silly today, but it was practised for a long time and even today has not been given up completely. Many mothers have been led to believe that fixed feed time is essential for the baby’s digestion and his training.

The feeding of the baby should be guided by commonsense. Feed the baby when he is hungry and let him sleep as long as he wants to. Within a few weeks he will make a schedule of waking, feeding and sleeping, which will be fairly regular. So even though you have not followed the clock, the baby has made a schedule for himself. The same applies to the night feed. The baby does not know the difference between night and day and since he does not sleep for long hours at a time, he gets hungry at night. So the only logical thing is to feed him at night if he wants it.

The baby will form a routine fairly soon, and you can adjust your day around his needs. Once that is done, you can coerce him a little to change the feed time to either earlier or later to satisfy the other demands on your time. A baby who was taking a feed at 9 am can be gradually coaxed to take it a bit earlier, if you have to go out at 9 am. The same applies to the evening feed. By two or three months most babies have a well-set routine. Problems may arise if you do not have enough breast milk, and the baby never really feels satisfied.

Breast-fed babies do not swallow much air and so burping is not so essential. Many do not need burping at all. Usually the baby goes off to sleep after the feed. But there are individual variations and so the baby should be held up against the shoulder after his feed. This will help the gas bubble to come up.