So your new baby is about 1 month old – congratulations! You’ve survived what was likely one of the most challenging periods of your life, and I’m here to tell you that everything gets easier from here on out, including breastfeeding.
Whether you were feeding on demand for the first few weeks or following a routine, generally by this point your baby has really gotten into the groove of breastfeeding, and you may be wondering how to you get them on a nice schedule. I’m a big believer in having a schedule, and it’s worked very well with all five of my babies.
By the time your baby is 4-6 weeks old, she’ll be eating 6-7 times a day (every 3 hours or so). Let’s say your first feed of the morning is at 7 a.m. Nurse your baby thoroughly, on both sides, and make sure she gets a complete feeding. 1.5-2 hours after the feeding began (so 8:30 or 9 a.m.), put her down for a nap, whether or not she catnapped before that point. Wake her up no later than 3-4 hours after that first feed began for the next feeding (10 a.m.). Here’s the schedule based on feeding every three hours, double check with your doctor as to how frequently you should feed:
Feeding and Sleeping Schedule:
7 a.m. 1st Feeding
8:30 a.m. Nap (1.5 hours)
10 a.m. 2nd Feeding
11:30 a.m. Nap (1.5 hours)
1 p.m. 3rd Feeding
2:30 p.m. Nap (1.5 hours)
4 p.m. 4th Feeding
5:30 p.m. Nap (1.5 hours)
7 p.m. 5th Feeding
8:30 p.m. Bedtime
10 p.m. 6th Feeding (directly back to sleep)
1 a.m. 7th Feeding (directly back to sleep)
Two things are hopefully happening here as a result of this schedule and your baby’s own natural development: your baby is awake for a significant part of the day, and she’s getting a lot of the food she needs during the day. Therefore, she might well be starting to do longer stretches at night. So, from between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m., you might get a nice stretch of sleep. Trust me, five hours of straight sleep will be life-altering and you’ll feel like a new woman! You can also introduce a bottle around 1 month or so, once breastfeeding is well established. If you pump and have your partner give a bottle for the 10 p.m. feeding, you can get another stint of sleep.
Over time, that 1 a.m. feeding will start to drop off, and the last feeding of the eventually will ALSO go away! At that point, you can do your final feed at 7 p.m. and not feed again until the morning, which could happen as early as 4-6 months. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!