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5 months old - how often should she feed and for how long?

(18 Posts)
Bridie321 Sat 05-Sep-09 15:19:54

Hi all

We have a 21wk old daughter and I'm just trying to work out how often she should feed (roughly - I know all are different) and how long(ish) should she be on the boob for?

While you're at it if anyone knows how long(ish) babies of this age should sleep (how many day naps and for how long as well as night)!

I think I may have been feeding my wee one too often. She feeds v. often and v. briefly (7-10 mins).



tiktok Sat 05-Sep-09 15:24:38

Bridie, it's an odd question

How often should you feed/drink? How long should you sleep?!

The answer is 'as often as the baby seems to need', wouldn't you say?

Trying to engineer a baby's need can be done, but frequent brief feeds of 7-10 mins are certainly on the normal many times does she feed?

ShowOfHands Sat 05-Sep-09 15:26:28

On demand still. As often and as long as she needs.

GYo Sat 05-Sep-09 15:28:18


When my DD was this age she was coming out of a huge growth spurt where I had to up her feeding from about every 3hrs to about about 2 or 2.5. She is now 24wks and is adjusting back down again a bit.

So at 21wks I was doing: 7am. 9, 10.30, 12.30, 2.30, 4.30 6pm and 11pm.

Nap wise she would have about 3 small naps a day on top of 12hrs at night (albeit broken up by a feed).

THe time to feed is really individual I think, my daughter used to take 30mins per side, now its more like 10 or 15mins per side. She sucks stronger and harder than when she was tiny. Think it depends on the baby and your let down- but Im sure someone more knowledgeable will be along shortly

I dont think you can really be feeding your baby too much if you are breast feeding. You could try stretching out the time slots a little bit and then she might feed longer as she is hungrier- but not sure if that is considered good practice in the BF world!

Good luck

GYo Sat 05-Sep-09 15:29:33

grin there you go, Tictok got there first!

sweetnitanitro Sat 05-Sep-09 15:33:33

I'm with ShowofHands, my DD has always been fed on demand. Partly because I am not organised enough to keep track, she'll remind me if she's hungry grin and partly because some days she is hungrier than others, like if she puts on a little growth spurt. iirc, she put on a fairly major spurt at 25 weeks and was feeding almost every hour, day and night, for about a week. That was tough to keep up with but it doesn't last. Your DD might be doing the same, stick with it and I'm sure she'll slow down again. Is she gaining weight OK?

hambo Sat 05-Sep-09 15:39:38

I found at 5 months they can get into a routine by themselves, which makes life a bit easier.

My DS was fed at 7am (or when he woke);Sleep at 8am - 9am

feed 11am; Sleep 12 - 2.30pm

feed 2.30pm; Sleep at 4pm ish - 5 pm

feed 5pm; Sleep at 6.30 pm

feed 10.30pm......maybe once in the night.

This suited him and me! He sometimes shouted for a bit when I put him down but literally for seconds.

Besom Sat 05-Sep-09 15:53:01

My dd was still feeding every couple of hours at this age, during the day and night. She always only every fed for 5 minutes at a time, if that. Naps, I think she also did 3 (the shortest one being in the late afternoon).

Bridie321 Sat 05-Sep-09 16:35:14

Thanks for this info guys.

Hmm - Tiktok, didn't think there were any odd questions when seeking support/information!hmm Careful what you say to sleep deprived woman!!

Anyway - there IS a modicum of what is considered 'normal' with all these things - e.g. to answer your question - if I were to tell you that I ate 25 times a day and slept for 18 hours you might suspect something was up.
When things don't seem to be going right we turn to norms to check behaviour against no? (Obviously bearing in mind that there is large variation hence the caveats in my original post).

My worry is that she is eating only a little at each feed and perhaps not getting enough hind milk. She is currently eating around every 2 - 2.5 hours (and the the 7-10 mins is tops in terms of time). I'm happy to feed her as often as she wants during the day but she's waking up around every hour at night (this is new - she was waking up at 11pm, 2am, 5am and then up at 7am with a feed)hence my wondering about day time sleeps - should I wake her from sleeps so she sleeps better at night perhaps. She was on the 75% for weight and we then went away to France for 4 weeks where it was v. hot and when we came back she was down to 50% (she's maintained this over 2wks). It's made me worry a bit. Plus - I'm getting very little sleep which I know is (fingers crossed) only temporary but when it affects the quality of interaction you have with your little one during the day it becomes important.


ShowOfHands Sat 05-Sep-09 16:48:37

Their weight gain slows down around this time. This is the norm for a breastfed baby. If you're interested, you could try plotting her weight on a chart that's designed exclusively for bfed babies. I assume you're using the chart in your red book. There's a strong chance that this is the standard bf/ff/mixed one.

As far as 'normal' with a breastfed baby of 5 months, the spectrum is actually vast but you can safely say that it is common for them to feed little and often and to feed a lot at night (too much to do during the day to waste time feeding). Throw in a time of great growth and development and it's almost expected that they feed this frequently.

At 5 months I would think your body is very good at responding to what you individual baby needs and therefore, assuming your baby is well, would not interfere with nature.

The fore/hindmilk think can be a bit misleading tbh. Your body will be very good at providing what your baby needs and this does not follow a foremilk and then hindmilk pattern per se.

You say things don't seem to be going right, but I think what you're dealing with is a normal 5 month old baby.

I always found (had a hungry bfed baby myself) that it was easier to find ways of dealing with what dd did need instead of trying to convince her otherwise ie co-sleeping, taking all offers of help, taking it easy, slinging, napping myself in the day etc.

Bridie321 Sat 05-Sep-09 16:49:13

p.s. I went to a breastfeeding workshop before my baby was born and they advised us to only ever offer one breast per feed (to be sure the baby got the hind milk) and to offer the same breast again if the baby wanted to feed again within the hour.

Any views on this?


ShowOfHands Sat 05-Sep-09 16:54:41

I think most people offer the other breast once the baby has come off the first side naturally. I actually never did this as dd only ever wanted one side (maintained a 99th centile or above weight feeding on the single side and swapping for each feed so caused no weight/supply issues). I, in this as in most breastfeeding matters, tried to follow dd's lead. Milk composition does change from the beginning to the end of a feed but there's nothing to say that a 10 minute feeder isn't extremely effective at receiving the hindmilk it requires.

TikTok's your woman though for specifics.

Besom Sat 05-Sep-09 17:04:54

Mine did exactly the same at 4/5 months - started waking up every hour and a half at night. To me, it sounds perfectly normal what your dd is doing and I think at this age you just have to go with it, hard as it is and you do have my sympathy!

My dd always put plenty of weight on even though she only fed for about 5 minutes, so I don't think the length of the feed is that relevant if she is an efficient feeder, the latch is good and you feed on demand.

I did used to only do the one breast at a time thing I think.

Eventually we took steps and cut out the night feeds but not until she was about 8 months and well established on solids. At that point she did lengthen her bf's a bit because she wasn't feeding all night.

Bridie321 Sat 05-Sep-09 17:10:14

O.k. - many thanks for this info.

It would be great to have access to research on these things so that I could make an informed decision. I find that HVs often say you should or shouldn't do certain things without giving information as to why/why which, I think means people are less likely to take their advice and more likely to go on intuition.

Just timed the last feed and it was 4 mins. I still feel that this is v. brief!


Besom Sat 05-Sep-09 17:25:15

I have a friend who's ds used to feed for at 30-45 minutes every feed at this age but he consistently lost weight. I don't know but I suspect this may have been because there was something up with the latch and he wasn't feeding efficiently for some reason. So a longer feed does not necessarily mean they are getting more I don't think.

I really wouldn't worry about the length of the feed. Five, seven, ten minutes is fine.

tiktok Sat 05-Sep-09 19:30:42

Bridie, sorry, I didn't mean to criticise your question. My was intended to lightly point up the illogicality of exploring what a healthy, thriving baby 'should' be doing vis a vis sleeping and feeding.

You're right, of course, that extremes of sleeping and feeding might well be thought of as an indication that something's not right.

But you've gone on to describe a perfectly normal pattern of sleeping and feeding, plus a perfectly normal weight gain.

The bf workshop has misled you about fore and himdmilk - you and your baby are doing fine, from what you write here

SarfEasticated Sat 05-Sep-09 20:29:33

Hi Bridie, just want to direct you to, lots of very good research there

Bridie321 Thu 10-Sep-09 20:18:33

Cheers all!

Thanks for the Kellymom link - found it really useful.


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