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Schedule Feeding? Demand Feeding? Explain please?

(30 Posts)
CupcakesHay Fri 07-Jan-11 21:27:33

I'm currently 36 wks preg and my mum has just asked me if I am planning to do on demand feeding or scheduled feeding. Whilst I understand a little bit more about demand feeding, i'm pretty clueless about schedule feeding.

I'm hoping to b-feed.

I'm sure everyone has a different view about what is best - but i'd like to gather a few ideas about both so I can make a bit more of an informed decision - and I know MNers are the wisest bunch of mums in the world [shamelessly sucking-up emoticon] grin

crikeybadger Fri 07-Jan-11 21:38:37

In short- demand feeding is when you feed your baby according to when they show you (by various cues) that they are hungry (or thirsty or in need of comfort). This could be every hour, two, three or four.

Scheduled feeding is when you stick to a routine of say feeding every three hours or at set times.

Personally I would go with demand feeding. It's better for building up your milk supply and most babies won't wait 3 hours for a feed when they are very young. It's also more responsive to your baby's needs and is the current recommended approach.

I believe that scheduled feeding has its origins in routines that were designed for formula fed babies. Formula is harder to digest therefore it was felt that babies could last a bit longer than bf babies.

You'll find loads of info about all aspects of bfing here and from us wise lot on mumsnet of course. smile

DimplesOHara Fri 07-Jan-11 21:50:39

Cant give advise on the BFing unfortunatly but there is a BF army on here that will be able to help x
Before DD was born I was sure that I was doing scheduled feeding, but in the end I did a a mix of demand and scheduled feeding with DD.
Midwifes in hospital would say dont let her go more than 3.5hrs without a feed or she'll wake more through the night hmm (but DD is a good sleeper blush ) But I went along with it at first, found that DD was happy to go 3 - 3.5hrs most of the time....*but* i didnt clock watch, sometimes DD would want it sooner, some times she'd sleep for 6 hrs, I found that she really made up her own mind iyswim. She's now lovely 13wk old who's decided that she would like 7oz every 4hrs thank you please, and actually sleeps through.

So IMO dont decide until baby's here, you'll soon get to know what the lil one wants and how you feel about either option.

EauRouge Fri 07-Jan-11 22:13:31

If you plan on BF then demand feeding is best, especially in the early days when you'll both be learning the ropes. It can be tough in the beginning so to get yourself off to a good start I would get some phone numbers of a local BF group (LLL is good, group listings e ) so that you can get support if you need to. You can go along to meetings before your DC arrives too!

EauRouge Fri 07-Jan-11 22:17:17

Oh, I buggered the link up, sorry. Try again e

EauRouge Fri 07-Jan-11 22:17:38


MoonUnitAlpha Fri 07-Jan-11 22:22:06

If you're breastfeeding then you do need to demand feed at least at first - maybe after the first 6-8 weeks you could start scheduling feeds if you wanted to though.

I've tried to move my ds into a 3 hourly routine a couple of times though and he's not having it grin So it will depend on how amenable your baby is. By 4 months he'd fallen into a pretty reliable routine of his own though.

CupcakesHay Fri 07-Jan-11 22:41:40

Brilliant. Thanks for the advice - made it all a bit less confusing for me!

And thanks for the link Eau Rouge

AngelsfromtherealmsofgloryDog Fri 07-Jan-11 22:45:10

Based on international scientific evidence, the WHO recommend feeding on demand as one of the aspects of breastfeeding: seehere.

If you want to know more detail, it's explained in the WHO's model textbook chapter for health professionals here. It's a long document, but section 2 is probably the main bit which explains the physiology about breastfeeding including demand feeding.

The WHO guidelines are what the NHS recommendations are based on, although the NHS fights shy of being explicit about the 'on-demand' bit in their guidelines.

As others have said, on-demand feeding is especially important in the first few months as babies have tiny stomachs and scheduling feeds can lead to insufficient weight gain, a miserable baby and an insufficient milk supply.

Many babies will fall into something of a routine themselves after a few months.

Once my DS got to about 3/4 months I could never tell when he wanted feeding, so I just fed him every time he woke up, fed him to sleep for naps and at night, and fed him any time he was grumpy. It worked a treat. 'If in doubt, feed' has worked really well for us.

pearlgirl Fri 07-Jan-11 23:09:39

I am also in the "If in doubt feed" camp. Ds4 is 8months and I have fed on demand with all of them. They have all eventually fallen into a reasonably predictable schedule. I have an 8year gap between ds3 and ds4 and had forgotten how often a newborn breastfed baby will feed - mine would have never managed a strict schedule and my instinct was to follow their cues.

CupcakesHay Fri 07-Jan-11 23:17:22

Great for the advice. Demand feeding does seem a hell of a lot better for breast feeding.

My mum is sometimes stuck in the 70s - in a nice way - i know she means well though!

tiktok Fri 07-Jan-11 23:49:58

Demand feeding - horrible phrase! I never use it, ever

I prefer 'responsive feeding' or 'cue feeding' or 'unrestricted feeding'.

Babies don't 'demand' - makes them sound like spoilt brats! They need feeding because that's how they grow and learn and love.

Cosmosis Sat 08-Jan-11 10:51:27

I am also in the if in doubt, feed camp grin it works brilliantly, if they're tired, they fall asleep, if they're bored it's a distraction, if they just wanted a cuddle, they get that too.

CantSleepWontSleep Sat 08-Jan-11 11:37:17

Good article here on cue feeding

CantSleepWontSleep Sat 08-Jan-11 11:38:58

sorry don't know why that didn't come up as a link

AngelsfromtherealmsofgloryDog Sat 08-Jan-11 22:40:18

'Responsive feeding' - I like the sound of that better; I'll change my vocabulary now, thanks, Tiktok. wink

crikeybadger Sun 09-Jan-11 10:26:25

Mmmm I agree Angels - demand feeding does have a certain implied connotation with 'spoiling' our babies.

jaggythistle Sun 09-Jan-11 10:46:51

I agree too. Sorry to bring MIL into it, but mine almost used it as a derogatory term.

"Oh DGS, aren't you lucky to be fed on demand"

This was in response to some throwaway comment I'd made about babies not always going by the clock.

Still nips my head after all this time to think about it!

pearlgirl Sun 09-Jan-11 14:29:29

i really like responsive feeding - going to change my vocabulary too.

TheSecondComing Sun 09-Jan-11 14:34:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoonUnitAlpha Sun 09-Jan-11 14:38:07

I found once your day has a bit of structure anyway - if you get up at the same time every day, have bath and bed at the same time every day etc - the feeds tend to fall into a routine round that anyway. So first thing in the morning, before nap time, after nap time, before bed. Not scheduled by the clock but they have a pattern to them.

TheSecondComing Sun 09-Jan-11 14:52:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoonUnitAlpha Sun 09-Jan-11 14:59:59

He wouldn't starve if you went out for 3 hours though would he? His dad could look after him.

Lavitabellissima Sun 09-Jan-11 15:09:33

You all realise now Tiktok has coined responsive feeding on mumsnet it will now be replacing demand feeding in all our vocabularies!

This is a momentous occasion, I agree wholeheartedly, my two amazing little twin girls don't demand anything, I respond to their little tongue poking faces grin

TheSecondComing Sun 09-Jan-11 15:22:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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