When to give supplements

How often should I breastfeed and supplement the baby?

Most supplemented babies feed about every 3 to 4 hours and roughly 6 to 8 times in 24 hours. They should be fed as soon as they show hunger signs. Ideally, the total time for breastfeeding, supplementing, and any expressing should be less than an hour for each feed. Some sleepy babies need to be woken up to feed until they are able to do so themselves. It is important to ensure that each feeding is effective and that the baby is growing well

A) Normal feeding patterns when babies are supplemented

Babies should be fed as soon as they show hunger signs. Most supplemented babies feed about every 3 to 4 hours and roughly 6 to 8 times in 24 hours. They may have one five-hour sleep after an evening period of fussiness.

This is slightly less often than an exclusively breastfed baby feeds as supplemented babies tend to overeat a little and may take slightly longer to get hungry. Additionally, infant formula  remains in the stomach longer than does breast milk.

The total time for breastfeeding, supplementing, and any expressing should not take more than one hour for each feed and ideally should take less.

It is important to ensure that the baby gets enough milk at each feed and is growing well.

B) Waking the baby

If babies wake on their own, they usually breastfeed better. If they are woken, they generally do not feed as well.

Some sleepy newborns need to be woken to feed for a few days until they can do so on their own. Premature babies can be very sleepy for extended periods and are closely supervised by health-care providers.

Some mothers are told to wake and feed the baby every one or two hours. This is exhausting for both mother and baby. It is more important to ensure that each feeding is effective and gives the baby as much milk as needed, that there are at least six feeds each day, and that the baby shows all the signs of growing well.