I have used many of the baby wise principals with my son. I have followed a lot of the advice they have given about feeding schedules. They have worked really well so far. I exclusively breastfeed Cooper until he was almost 5 months old. My son is now 7 months old and I am still breastfeeding and have not lost my milk supply. I should also add that Cooper has always been in the 50 %ile for weight and 90-95 %ile for height.
Common Issues with Baby Wise and Breastfeeding
I have hear the common issues that people have when it comes to babywise- “you can decrease you milk supply or lose it all together if you follow babywise and your child may have failure to thrive. After following a feeding schedule that is similar to the one they suggest in baby wise, I can understand why that might happen. People misinterpret how to implement baby wise while they are breast feeding which results in low milk supply (or loose ability to nurse) and children who fail to thrive. I wanted to give some helpful suggestions to make sure this does not happen to you!
Don’t feed by the clock- this type of feeding schedule is not baby wise. Baby wise is a parent-directed feeding schedule. This type of feeding schedule has designated feeding times, but also allows for some variation due to child’s hunger. For instants, let’s say you’re feeding schedule looked something like this- 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm. If you child is suppose to eat at 10am but is crying and fussy at 9:50 should you make them wait an additional 10 minutes to eat- no, that is hyper scheduling! The schedule serves as a guide line for when to feed and how to schedule naps. It helps you as a parent know when to expect your child to be hungry. This was great when my son was a newborn. I knew if he was crying around a scheduled feeding time he was most likely hungry. But if he was crying and he had just eaten a hour prior, he most likely was not hungry and perhaps he was tired or had gas. Babywise gave this diagram to help drive home the point to not feed only by the clock:
Hunger Cue + Clock + Parent Assessment = Feeding Time
Feed More Frequently During Growth Spurts- During a growth spurt, you will need to feed your baby more frequently if you are nursing. This will help stimulate your breasts to start producing more milk. If you fail to follow your child’s hunger cues, you could damage your milk supply. The result is less milk and a fussy, underfeed baby. If you were feeding on a 3- hour schedule, consider moving back to a 2.5 hour schedule to fit in an extra feeding. Remember to follow your child’s hunger cue’s and feed your baby when she is hungry. Growth spurts really don’t last longer than a few days, a week at most. Yes your schedule will be a little messed up for a few days. Don’t fear, after the growth spurt is over, you little one will return to the previous schedule fairly easy.
Add a feeding- Once your child is on a 4-hour schedule, that means you will only need to feed your little one 4 times a day. Your schedule might look like this- 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm. For some breastfeeding mom’s 4 feedings is not enough. Baby wise recognizes this and writes, “Your baby will maintain four to six liquid feeding in a 24- hour period, three of which will be supplemented by babyfood.” Some moms can nurse 4 times and maintain milk supply but others cannot. If you are on a 4 hour schedule, how do you fit in the 6 feedings to maintain milk supply? You can add the late night feeding (dreamfeed), this is the feeding you usually give to your child after they have been asleep around 10/11pm before you go to sleep. You could also try cluster feeding in the evening since your milk supply is lower at night any way. Your schedule might look like this- 7am, 11am, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm, with an optional late night feeding at 10/11pm. Once your baby is older and will stay awake longer, they may not be on a perfect 4 hour eat, wake, sleep cycle. NOTE: if you see your milk supply dipping, just add an additional feeding. Shorten the length between feeding to accomplish this.
Pump: Once your little one is sleeping through the night and no longer taking the late night feeding (dreamfeed) you may only be breastfeeding 4 times a day. I tried doing that, but my milk supply started to dip. I added a 5 feeding, but I pump this feeding right before I go to sleep between 10/11pm. I save the milk that I pump and use it in his cereal for the next day. Once I added the 5 feeding back with pumping, I was able to maintain a healthy milk supply.
Here is what my feeding schedule looks like with my 7 month old currently:
- 7am Breastfeed/ breakfast
- 10am nap (1.5 hours)
- 11:30 breastfeed/ lunch
- 2:30 nap (1.5 hours)
- 4:00 breastfeed
- 6:00 Dinner
- 7:00 Breastfeed
- 10/11:00 Pump (save breast milk for cereal next day)
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