Breastfeeding on demand or routine


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There appear to be two distinct camps of breastfeeding mums. On one side we have "Team On Demand" on the other we have "Team Routine".

Breastfeeding on demand or routine, this is my take on it as a survivor of three babies in 2.5 yrs. I say, survivor, as honestly with munchkins that close together I quickly dropped all unrealistic expectations! if we came out alive we were doing well.

breastfeeding on demand or by routine/schedule, what is best.

Breastfeeding on demand

Team On-Demand believe the best way to have a happy, content, well-fed baby is to feed the baby when the baby demands/requests it. This makes sense in its simplicity, a three-step process.

  1. Baby is hungry
  2. Feed Baby
  3. Baby no longer hungry

Breastfeeding on routine

Team Routine believes that the best way to have a happy, content, well-fed baby is to feed the baby regularly at certain times of the day so that baby's needs are met in advance and therefore they are never upset due to hunger.  Again I can see the merit in this approach.

I also hope you have noticed, despite which team they are on, the goal remains the same. A happy, content, well-fed baby. Sometimes mums on apparently totally different sides of the parenting philosophy fence are actually pretty similar

My experiences with breastfeeding on demand and routine.

Breastfeeding Baby Number One

For my first baby when he was little, I was a fully fledged, badge wearing, member of "Team On Demand". I only had one little person's needs that I had to meet, so, on demand worked well for us. I didn't need to wake him from sleep as we had nowhere we needed to be at certain times. As he got older and older he fell/I moved him on to a routine that worked for us.

Breastfeeding Baby Number Two

Then along came number two. All of a sudden I realised feeding on demand is actually a luxury afforded to those who only have one little person's needs to meet. Then I had three under three, and honestly, my entire day became somewhat of a military operation.  Many munchkins equal many demands.

Breastfeeding where do I stand now? Am I Team on Demand or Team Routine?

Personally, I think there is actually a middle ground on this topic, and that's where I sit. One boob in camp on demand and the other in camp routine. Offer feeds on a routine basis, but feed on demand as necessary.

I offered bub number 3 feeds at routine and sensible/practical times.  (And yes I do wake a sleeping baby to offer these feeds.)  Examples include:

  • A morning feed before my husband leaves for work, so that I can have a relaxed feed with bub, minus two toddlers clambering over us.
  •  Before I load everyone into the car for an outing.
  • A lunchtime feed when my other two munchkins are sitting up at the table eating as well
  • An afternoon feed, either before my two kiddlywinks  are due to wake up from their sleep, or while they watch a little bit of TV (3 under 3 means I have also loosened the reins on screen time)
  • An evening feed when dad gets home
  • Night time when my other kidlets are asleep, we are purely on demand.

If my little miss newborn was hungry at other times i.e. she demanded/requested a feed then I didn't turn her down she was given it. Perhaps not immediately, but as soon as I was able.  If you are a first-time mum you might gasp at this. What! Not immediately!  But think about this.  Sometimes there are other little people demands that need to be met first. For example Master 2.5 yrs running around the house pantless, with an unwiped bum post a trip to the potty, or a 15 month old who has found the sudocreme and is wandering through the house with fists full of the stuff. Number three children become very patient babies. And I feel 100% confident that her having to wait for a few minutes here and there did absolutely no harm.

But don't worry, first time around, I was the mum who would pull over to feed bub even if we were only like 5 minutes from home. But, guess what, between bub number one and number three I doubt anyone could tell which one waited a few minutes for a feed and which one was fed on the side of the road just minutes from the comfort of my own home.

All my kids have thrived while breastfed, I have had no supply issues, and my babies have been happy contented munchkins. My miss middle child and miss number three child have always been woken from sleeps (within reason) and have both been on some sort of routine from day dot, neither of them have been bothered by this in the slightest.  My eldest child was also happy as a clam with his on-demand feeding.

Personally, I don't think it matters if you are a routine mum or an on-demand mum, or somewhere in between. As long as you are happy, and bub is happy and thriving then what you are doing is the right thing. If you have been advised to follow a feeding regime for a medical reason then, that is the best feeding regime for your baby.

If you aren't happy, or bub isn't happy then try something different. There is no harm or shame in switching camps.

Good luck to all those feeding newborns, I hope you find a method that suits you and your baby. It is tough going and there will always be moments of self-doubt. These moments just mean you are a good mum who cares about the well being of your baby. (Or at least I hope that's what they mean, and I am not just a raving lunatic!)

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One Comment

  1. So many demands that need to be met. I hope you have lots of helping hands to help you out with those demands. And you get a chance to look after yourself, too!