Breastfeeding at set times or breastfeeding on demand, what difference does it make, and above all, what is the best solution for you and your baby?
How to breastfeed on demand?
The principle of breastfeeding on demand is simple, you just need to breastfeed your child every time and for as long as he or she wants it . But that's the principle
In practice, to breastfeed on demand and not let yourself be "phagocytosed" by your baby, learn to recognize hunger signals is a good starting point. But this is also where everything gets complicated. Hunger, fatigue, infant colic or first teeth, dirty diaper or need for cuddles, in the first months, it's not always easy to navigate.
According to its rhythm, a baby up to 6 months old breastfeeds on average 8 times per 24 hours. So many opportunities for you to wonder if your child is hungry and if it is time to breastfeed.
Besides, to make yourself understood baby will have sent you a multitude of signals more or less clear, more or less direct and more or less easy to identify, to express your need.
Recognize when your baby is hungry
Even if he doesn't speak, baby is able to let you know that he is hungry. All physical, the indications they send you, also called “signs of awakening” are gradual until the most imperative of them, crying.
- It all starts with a little agitation . Whether baby is awake or asleep, he moves, turns his head, perhaps opens his mouth and may make small noises.
- After that — this time baby is fully awake — the Sucking movements become clearer . He seeks the breast, brings his hands to his mouth and may even try to suckle on her skin, hands or tissue.
- It is only afterwards that the baby starts to cry, when the hunger becomes intolerable for him.
Get organized so you can breastfeed “all the time”
Day, night and at home, but also outdoors, if you choose exclusive and on-demand breastfeeding for your baby, prepare to be able to breastfeed anywhere and at any time.
The task is easiest at home. Choose one or several comfortable and quiet places (the bed, a rocking chair, etc.) where you can sit with your child without risking being too disturbed. Some feedings can last 30 minutes or more if baby takes his time drinking.
There, place all your small breastfeeding equipment. Swaddle, pads, bib, diaper, book, cushions, water bottle, biscuits, blankets, anti-crack cream… whatever you want. In a basket, a bag or a basket , you keep them on hand.
The rest of the time, if your baby's rhythm allows it and if the organization of the day fits with this solution, give for example one feeding before leaving and another when coming home .
Otherwise, on a walk, shopping, visiting friends… As soon as you arrive, identify places that are a little out of the way, sufficiently comfortable and which allow you to sit comfortably with your baby.
Breastfeed on demand for the first month
Breastfeeding on demand is a real adventure. However, it is mainly During the first month, your attention to your baby and patience with yourself will be most required . Establishing lactation can happen very quickly, but can also be a tiring and disconcerting learning experience.
During the day, your baby feed every two to three hours approximately. It's that high rhythm which initiates and regulates your milk production, gives you the opportunity to spot the first signs of hunger in your baby and resolve possible breastfeeding problems.
After the first 4 to 6 weeks, your baby's feedings gain strength and become more effective. You can continue to breastfeed on demand, while slowly establishing a rhythm that is perhaps a little more in line with your needs.
Breastfed on demand, can baby drink too much or not enough?
To make sure your baby gets enough to drink, let him nurse as much as he wants . Then offer her the other breast to find out if he still needs to drink. That's all !
We take this opportunity to give you some tips against congestion and pain. To alternate between the right breast and left breast at each feeding, download for example a breastfeeding tracking app (Baby Manager, My baby: breastfeeding…) or:
- set a safety pin on the right side, on your bra strap,
- use a nursing pillow that you change sides at each feeding,
- make one of your rings, a nursing ring carried on the side of the last given breast.
Follow baby's needs and find the right rhythm
Once the first weeks have passed and the feeding is well established, try to push your observation of your child further. The goal ? That baby no longer needs to ask for his milk meal, that you can organize yourself more easily and that your little one begins to find his rhythm .
To help him, you can (in addition to other feedings) offer the breast at regular times , in the same way that you prepare meals every day at the same time for older children.
There magic and uniqueness of each breastfeeding is unique. However, breastfeeding on demand is recommended during the first month because it allows the baby to regulate its own nutritional needs, to establish lactation and to establish this unique bond which exists between a mother and her breastfed baby.
From around 6 weeks, but especially when you feel the time has come, when your mother's instinct encourages you, trust it, it is the most powerful, you will be able to gently slide towards a more regular feeding rhythm.