How often should a 4 month old breastfeed each day?

Ricki - posted on 03/20/2010 ( 29 moms have responded )

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My baby is about 4 months old and I still feed him every couple hours amounting to a total of 6-7 feedings in a 24 hour period. I got on that schedule in the hospital and just continued it however, I'm sure at this point he could go longer. How many feedings should a 4 month old have?

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Kathy - posted on 03/23/2010

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I know you already got lots of answers regarding how often a 4 month old should breastfeed but I wanted to say that I nurse on demand, still, and my son is 11 months old now - he does not eat three meals of solids a day, he's just not interested. I feed him what I am eating and I have special foods just for him but he prefers to nurse and I am fine with that. He at 4 months was still nursing every two hours and some days still does especially if he is teething or not feeling well. In the end you have to do what your instincts tell you. Opinions are like @ssholes everybody has one :) do what you feel is right in your heart and you will be the best mom you can be. Good Luck!

Andrea - posted on 03/20/2010

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Ricki - my daughter is 4 months old as well - I pay attention to the clock and don't let her go more than 3 hours, but she often shows signs of being hungry closer to 2 - 2 1/2 hours, so I feed her when I see those signs. She also sleeps 10-12 hours at night, so there are only about 12-14 hours left in the day, which if I let her eat every 3 hours (or more) is only 4-5 feedings. So keeping it around 2 - 2 1/2 hours gives her closer to 6-8 feedings depending on cluster feeds or not.

I would suggest paying attention to clues of being hungry - crying is a LATE sign of hunger :)

[deleted account]

I appreciate your feedback Allison... I'm afraid we will just have to have a difference of opinion on this... Beliefs about frequency and duration of breastfeeding are part and parcel with different mothering philosophies... There are tens of thousands of exclusively breast feeding women who follow the baby whisperer method of parenting wherein feeding a four month old baby at four hour increments is the standard practice. My baby was able to make this transition easily once she passed the four month mark, and sleeps through the night without difficulty. She has never had any supplementation of formula- only breast milk. She is a healthy, thriving, very happy baby... I think the important thing to remember is that each individual woman needs to make decisions that are right for them... There are many ways of doing things that allow babies to flourish and it's important to have the freedom to have access to different choices.

Ricki- if you're looking for more information in addition to the evidence that Allison has kindly provided, you can google tracy hogg, the baby whisperer and access her discussion boards on the subject. Good luck to you! I hope you find something that works for you!!

[deleted account]

How often a 4 month old will nurse depends. A baby that is four months can go four hours between feeds- that is for formula fed or breast fed babies... Similar to adults, it's about caloric intake during the day, not about how quickly a baby digests milk...

Asti Renee - posted on 03/22/2010

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My baby is going to turn 4 months tomorrow... I feed him every 3-4 hours during the day :) Then I give him cereal in the evening so he will sleep through the night! I hope this helps!

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Charlene - posted on 05/21/2014

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Our baby is four months today and feeds every couple of hours from around 7am till about 5pm then he feed every hour or so till bed time at 8.30. We Feed on demand which works for us both. if baby is happy keep doing it :-)

Holly Janelle - posted on 07/22/2011

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The amount of nursings my 4 month old varies from day to day but it's normally 6-7 feedings in a 24 hour period. She is hungry every 2-2 1/2-3 hours sometimes even 1 1/2 hours. I just watch for her cues and sometimes it's hard to read their cues but I just offer if I think that's what she wants and she usually latches right on. Just follow your gut feeling and if you do that which it sounds like you are then your doing great!! It's completely normal :) happy Breastfeeding

Natalie - posted on 07/21/2011

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This is ridiculous! You should use your basic instincts and do what you think is right for your baby! I use the principle of babywise and it works for me and my family, both of my sons have been fed and had a routine based on babywise and they have both been anything but failing to thrive! Both have been in the top 90 percentile. It is each to their own and what suits you and your family best! There is no good or bad methods regarding parenting it all falls down to what works best for you which may be entirely different to the next person but that doesn't matter because it works for you! I think that some people should take a look at their statements before they post as some of these statements are very hurtful and harsh especially to a new struggling mother who is just reaching out for help and support! I think you need a reality check and think about why you are posting on this forum - it's not to criticize and make harsh comments to people, it is to supply a healthy network of care and support to parents who are reaching out for a little bit of help - is that too much to ask for? I joined this forum specifically and only to say what I have and I will not be back! I don't think that this sort of treatment and silly bickering is what I want to be involved with. All the best to the lovely ladies who replied with healthy and helpful information for this lady who was just wanting so friendly and helpful info not to be told what she should and shouldn't be doing in a condisending manor. Take care.

Natalie - posted on 07/21/2011

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This is ridiculous! You should use your basic instincts and do what you think is right for your baby! I use the principle of babywise and it works for me and my family, both of my sons have been fed and had a routine based on babywise and they have both been anything but failing to thrive! Both have been in the top 90 percentile. It is each to their own and what suits you and your family best! There is no good or bad methods regarding parenting it all falls down to what works best for you which may be entirely different to the next person but that doesn't matter because it works for you! I think that some people should take a look at their statements before they post as some of these statements are very hurtful and harsh especially to a new struggling mother who is just reaching out for help and support! I think you need a reality check and think about why you are posting on this forum - it's not to criticize and make harsh comments to people, it is to supply a healthy network of care and support to parents who are reaching out for a little bit of help - is that too much to ask for? I joined this forum specifically and only to say what I have and I will not be back! I don't think that this sort of treatment and silly bickering is what I want to be involved with. All the best to the lovely ladies who replied with healthy and helpful info for this lady who was just wanting so friendly and helpful info on how often a 4 month old should breastfeed, not to be told what she should and shouldn't be doing in a condisending manor. Take care.

Clare - posted on 03/23/2010

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Just feed on demand..works all round for everything!
Use your instinct & babies hungry cues,and just go with the flow & do what works for you both
Both my kids were EBFed babies,and not having anything to do with babies ever before that,on demand feeding worked for me:0)

Louise - posted on 03/23/2010

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I feed my bubba on demand. He is 5 months now and feeds every 3-4 hours (except at night). If the schedule is working for you- keep it. If it isn't- scrap it! Humans don't naturally eat to a schedule which is why I chose to demand feed. Try it for a little while. It might work for you. You might also find that he wants to feed to the schedule still : )

I think a 4 month old breastfeeding 6-7 times a day is fine. If he's growing and happy- and you are happy- it's fine!

Sophie - posted on 03/23/2010

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I fed my daughter on demand throughout all my time breastfeeding and she ate frequently like this. It all depends on how you choose to breastfeed. Some mothers that I know were able to get their babies to eat and three or four hour intervals, however this did not work for me and my daughter.

Nusret - posted on 03/23/2010

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Couldn't agree with Kathy more, I think there are too many philosophies out there claiming to know best but ultimately nothing can replace a mother's instinct. How did mothers survive in the days before there was Gina Ford or the Baby whisperer etc? Feeding on demand is the way nature intended, every baby is unique and some can last 3-4 hours whereas for some it is every 2 hrs or less.

Barbora Milena - posted on 03/22/2010

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Hi, my daughter is 4 months old n her breastfeeding schedule is like this - from 10am to 6pm every 2 hours,she demands it...by night she is fed around 11pm i wake her up for this one, feed her, change her n then she sleeps until 5-6am, fed round that time n then sleeps until 10am... during the day she can last longer without bein fed while bein outside, if she is asleep in her stroller or in a company of more ppl bein interested in somethin...she has learnt this routine since her birth, but until 3mths, she was fed every 2-3hrs even at night, from 3mths she can go through the nite just with 1 or 2 feedings...

every child is different, depends on his/her needs n the routine you set up...

[deleted account]

You know I never followed those guidelines for nursing a baby at any stage - newborns or older. I just fed on demand. In the early months their demands increase and decrease so frequently depending on their growth spurts and what not. There'll be a number of days when they'll want to feed all the time (to increase your milk supply) and then go through a phase of sleeping most of the time and feeding less. I wouldn't worry too much about counting how many times in a day he feeds.

However, I don't know if your baby has any issue with spitting up or gas but if he's got some gas issues it could cause him to not be able to take in enough milk at each feeding and so end up feeding more frequently. Make sure that you burp him well.

Also, you know if his weight, growth and development is all on target and good then you shouldn't worry too much.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Chrisitina - posted on 03/21/2010

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@ 7months, my son still eats around 8 times a day probably. He clusters in the evening. I don't prescribe to anyone philosophy, I feed him when he is hungry and he happens to be a snacker at times where he will have a little here and a little there. I am fine with it and it works for us for now.

Alisa - posted on 03/21/2010

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All babies are different! Just trust your instincts regarding how often your 4 month old should breastfeed! I have tied waking my little Riley to feed her every two to three hour as recommended by almost everything I have read and been told, but she would be so miserable. So finally I asked my doctor about it and he said that she would let me know when she was hungry. So I switched to letting her decide and now her schedule goes something like three to four hours from one feed to another and then eats before she naps again an hour and a half to two hours later. I breastfeed her almost full time while we are out of the house. Talk to your doctor and find out what he suggests, and then do what you think is right.

Good Luck!!

Ricki - posted on 03/21/2010

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Thank you to everyone. Devon and Laura, I really appreciate your viewpoints on how often my 4 month old should breastfeed. You're right, as a new mom it is scary when people say there is a good/bad way of doing things. I'm just trying to do the best I can for both baby and my own well being.

Miranda - posted on 03/21/2010

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Don't try to schedule feedings. Feed on demand. Some days it seems that my 4 month old is breastfeeding all day long, other days he only feed every 2-3 hrs just depends on his moods.

Allison - posted on 03/20/2010

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Devon - I don't see where I said anything was "wrong." I did say that Laura was mistaken, but I was actually referring to the point that she made that talked about feeding being strictly a caloric intact issue and not how frequently they feed. Then I posted some info on that. She never mentioned what philosophy she was following or referring to or anything.

I said it wasn't generally recommended. I said it was linked to particular issues (FTT). But I did not say it was wrong.

To move away from this debate (since I know neither of us are going to change our opinion), I'll just share with Ricki what I've done with my 3 kids WRT feeding:

I just feed on demand. Whenever and how ever often they want to eat. With my oldest, I worked full-time, so she nursed a TON when I arrived home from work - I'd sit on the couch and nurse while my husband made dinner. I'd often nurse through dinner and then off and on for the rest of the evening. My daughter also nursed frequently at night (we co-sleep). So much so that she ended up reverse-cycling, taking few if any bottles of expressed milk during the day but making up for the milk she needed when I was home. I stopped pumping at 9 months and she continued to nurse until age 3.

With my son (who is 3 and still nursing), I didn't work, so I just nursed whenever he wanted. He nursed frequently, every 2-3 hours or more, until about 1 year, unless we were out of the house - then he was too busy to nurse. I survived by wearing him and nursing in a sling or nei tai. Once he was about 14 months, he was nursing less frequently. He is still nursing at 3.

My 10 month old is nursing about every 2-3 hours, but he has gone longer, especially at night. When he nurses now, they are typically very quick feeds, like 5-10 minutes. He is a very busy little guy and sometimes is so busy playing he doesn't nurse, which is fine. Today he seems to be cutting 4 teeth, and has been either nursing or sleeping pretty much all day.

One thing to keep in mind is that they do get much more efficient at removing milk as they get older, so the frequent feeds that take a long time typically go to the wayside once they hit 3, 4, or 5 months. They might not even take both sides each feeding.

And, finally, breastfeeding is also about more than just food. Sometimes they nurse for comfort. Sometimes they nurse to reconnect (my daughter did that because I was away from her all day). Sometimes they nurse because they are in a strange place (*very* helpful on an airplane or hotel when traveling!). For my daughter, nursing was always her "reset" button: she'd have a bad day, or get hurt, or just get really frustrated at the world and lose it. If she nursed, she was a new person, able to face the day :-) Her troubles ceased. It was great. My 3 year old doesn't have that reset button, but he's less intense than she and doesn't tend to get as upset and frustrated like she did.

No matter what, they do stop nursing as frequently and eventually altogether. Kinka bittersweet ;-)

Devon - posted on 03/20/2010

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I couldn't agree more Allison. Before someone adheres to a particular approach they should definitely know the pros and cons of said approach. But in my opinion that entails understanding the philosophy using the primary source and not third party opinions, such as book reviews on random websites. We read extensively before our daughter was born (including LLL) and, like all parents do, have taken the parts of different philosophies to make our own. Again, to suggest that some approaches are "wrong" (as you have done) and to elevate other philosophies to "right" is misleading and entirely unhelpful.

I still believe that parenting philosophy and feeding cannot be separated. As I read back I see that the Baby Whisperer was only mentioned as a resource to help understand a four month old's feeding behaviour and capabilities—it was you that questioned its legitimacy as such.

And just to clarify (once again) if you had read the primary source (the Baby Whisperer) that you have deemed "wrong" you would discover that it is not about schedules at all, but about reading your child's cues and providing a framework to your child's day.

Allison - posted on 03/20/2010

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@ Devon - Agreed. There are different approaches and anyone can choose one they think best. I don't want to talk about parenting philosophies, as the OP really wanted to know about feeding. And the best breastfeeding resource out there, Kellymom, recommends against feeding schedules. LLL doesn't agree with schedules, either.

Just to show I'm not just spouting things out of my arse:

http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/reviews/p...

This particular review discusses Babywise in depth, but does mention (and lump together) The Baby Whisperer.

I think if anyone wants to use a particular philosophy (and I don't use one in particular...) they should know both the pros and cons.

Devon - posted on 03/20/2010

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Sorry to disagree with you Allison, but Baby Whisperer (I don't know Babywize) is NOT a strict scheduling philosophy (maybe you should read it before you claim to know its contents)—it is a child-centered approach that offers infants and toddlers a predictable and structured routine to their day. As I previously explained, this approach requires you to observe and follow your babies cues. We have learned our daughter's hungry cues well and she easily moved from a natural three hour routine at one month old to a four hour routine after four months. I think you should clarify when you say "most breastfeeding professionals" as using such phrases can be misleading for people seeking helpful advice. I also think it is irresponsible of you to suggest that approaches you do not agree with can cause such serious conditions as Failure to Thrive. This will no doubt scare many mothers—it would have scared me had I not known from experience that it is false. And yes, eating is a basic need AND can be part of a parenting philosophy. Just as diapering, sleep and a child's emotional well-being are basic needs but all approached in different ways by parents. To say that one parent's way of approaching these needs is "wrong" is both offensive and counter-intuitive to the nature of this site.

[deleted account]

This will be my last posting on the subject, but I would just like to say that while eating is a basic need, how parents go about meeting that need is driven by a particular philosophy. Whether you choose bottle or breast, feeding on demand or feeding on a routine, co-sleeping or independent sleeping, you have to make decisions that are right for you... To suggest that feeding a baby on a routine will lead to failure to thrive is both irresponsible and downright cruel. Baby whisperer parents learn to always read their babies' cues and signals and respond accordingly- there is no 'schedule,' only a routine- and you always respond to your baby's needs. It merely gives you a framework to work with.

I think perhaps if we were all a little less judgmental and a little more empathic towards new moms who are just doing their best, the world would be a little less cold...

Devon - posted on 03/20/2010

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Hi Ricki,

My partner and I follow the same philosophy as Laura does (the baby whisperer approach). The idea is that babies can feed every four hours quite easily when they're four + months old. A key component of this approach is to learn and know your baby's cues and patters for eating, activity, and sleep. If your baby is exhibiting hungry signs, you feed them... if they're tired, you put them to bed. If they're going through a growth spurt, you feed them more frequently. The idea is not to follow a clock, but rather establish a routine that is age-appropriate for your child. The routine helps you learn to recognize and identify hungry signs and respond accordingly. There will be times when the baby does not stick to a four hour routine- you don't avoid feeding them because 'it's not time yet...' but generally speaking, the baby will naturally adapt and thrive on this routine. That is the baby whisperer approach and it works very well for many people. If your baby doesn't tolerate four hours, try three, or three and a half. The main thing is to do whatever you feel comfortable with.

Allison - posted on 03/20/2010

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Yes, the Baby Whisper and Babywize (Ezzo) are very strict scheduling philosophies, though not recommended for a variety of reasons by most breastfeeding professionals. Strict scheduling, especially in the early months of infancy, has been linked to Failure to Thrive. Obviously not every baby has a problem with this type of feeding schedule, but overall it's generally not recommended. I also don't think feeding your baby is a "parenting philosophy": eating is a basic need. Everyone should eat when they are hungry.

Allison - posted on 03/20/2010

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Feed on demand - it's best for baby and for your supply. It's normal for baby to eat every 2 hours still at this age. Remember that breastmilk is digested in about 90 minutes. I think for babies under 6 months, the goal is 8 feedings in every 24 hour period. Some babies still clusterfeed in the evenings at this age, too.



Why do you think he could go longer between feedings? How does he signal he's hungry? Do you just feed based on the clock or are you watching him and determining he hungry based on his cues (like hands-in-mouth, turning head to nurse, getting fussy or crying)? How long does he nurse pes session? Does he nurse on both sides or one per feeding?



Also keep in mind that many babies go through growth spurts at 6 months, so he may have days where it seems like he's nursing every hour. That's normal too. This can also happen when they are sick or teething.

Natalie - posted on 07/21/2011

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This is ridiculous! You should use your basic instincts and do what you think is right for your baby! I use the principle of babywise and it works for me and my family, both of my sons have been fed and had a routine based on babywise and they have both been anything but failing to thrive! Both have been in the top 90 percentile. It is each to their own and what suits you and your family best! There is no good or bad methods regarding parenting it all falls down to what works best for you which may be entirely different to the next person but that doesn't matter because it works for you! I think that some people should take a look at their statements before they post as some of these statements are very hurtful and harsh especially to a new struggling mother who is just reaching out for help and support! I think you need a reality check and think about why you are posting on this forum - it's not to criticize and make harsh comments to people, it is to supply a healthy network of care and support to parents who are reaching out for a little bit of help - is that too much to ask for? I joined this forum specifically and only to say what I have and I will not be back! I don't think that this sort of treatment and silly bickering is what I want to be involved with. All the best to the lovely ladies who replied with healthy and helpful info for this lady who was just wanting so friendly and helpful info on how often a 4 month old should breastfeed, not to be told what she should and shouldn't be doing in a condisending manor. Take care.

Louise - posted on 03/23/2010

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I feed my bubba on demand. He is 5 months now and feeds every 3-4 hours (except at night). If the schedule is working for you- keep it. If it isn't- scrap it! Humans don't naturally eat to a schedule which is why I chose to demand feed. Try it for a little while. It might work for you. You might also find that he wants to feed to the schedule still : )

I think a 4 month old breastfeeding 6-7 times a day is fine. If he's growing and happy- and you are happy- it's fine!

Barbora Milena - posted on 03/22/2010

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Hi, my daughter is 4 months old n her breastfeeding schedule is like this - from 10am to 6pm every 2 hours,she demands it...by night she is fed around 11pm i wake her up for this one, feed her, change her n then she sleeps until 5-6am, fed round that time n then sleeps until 10am... during the day she can last longer without bein fed while bein outside, if she is asleep in her stroller or in a company of more ppl bein interested in somethin...she has learnt this routine since her birth, but until 3mths, she was fed every 2-3hrs even at night, from 3mths she can go through the nite just with 1 or 2 feedings...

every child is different, depends on his/her needs n the routine you set up...

Alisa - posted on 03/21/2010

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All babies are different! Just trust your instincts regarding how often your 4 month old should breastfeed! I have tied waking my little Riley to feed her every two to three hour as recommended by almost everything I have read and been told, but she would be so miserable. So finally I asked my doctor about it and he said that she would let me know when she was hungry. So I switched to letting her decide and now her schedule goes something like three to four hours from one feed to another and then eats before she naps again an hour and a half to two hours later. I breastfeed her almost full time while we are out of the house. Talk to your doctor and find out what he suggests, and then do what you think is right.

Good Luck!!

Ricki - posted on 03/21/2010

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Thank you to everyone. Devon and Laura, I really appreciate your viewpoints on how often my 4 month old should breastfeed. You're right, as a new mom it is scary when people say there is a good/bad way of doing things. I'm just trying to do the best I can for both baby and my own well being.

Miranda - posted on 03/21/2010

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Don't try to schedule feedings. Feed on demand. Some days it seems that my 4 month old is breastfeeding all day long, other days he only feed every 2-3 hrs just depends on his moods.

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