Although the debate continues between whether moms should breastfeed on-demand or on a schedule, according to Pediatrics Consultant, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Clinical Nutritionist, Dr Ghada Sayed, there is only one real choice. On-demand follows the principle that whenever the baby is hungry, the mother feeds them. For the baby’s psychological and physical wellbeing, expert Dr Ghada argues that on-demand is the clear choice, no matter how old the infant is.
“The mother responding to her baby’s needs is important for mother-baby bonding.”
Scheduled feeding, whereby parents have feeding times defined by a fixed schedule, “might be easier for the mother, as it can allow her to go out and sleep to a schedule, but in the long run it can be very damaging for the baby,” Dr. Ghada suggests.
Psychologically speaking on-demand feeding is very beneficial, Dr. Ghada highlights, “the mother responding to her baby’s needs is important for mother-baby bonding. It will also help to build up the confidence of the baby.” The benefits don’t end there, “your baby’s crying is likely to be less frequent because they are in a better mood due to not being hungry.”
“If the infant is prematurely woken, it might therefore restrict their growth.”
The physical impact of on-demand feeding is also hugely important; “your baby might be going through a growth spurt so needing more food than you have schedule for them. Their hunger levels is dependent on the amount of calories they need, so not receiving enough calories at the right time can be damaging to their development.” Furthermore having to wake your baby to feed them at a scheduled time should be avoided. “During sleep, babies release an increased level of growth hormones. If the infant is prematurely woken, it might therefore restrict their growth,” Dr. Ghada adds.
Babies eventually tend to settle into their own schedule suitable for their growth and hunger needs, this natural schedule is the optimum for their development, unlike a schedule designed by their parent.
Dr Ghada strongly recommends that any advice we hear suggesting that schedule-feeding is preferable, we speedily ignore. Although the mother might find some benefits in regards to time-keeping, the negative impact that scheduled-feeding has on the bonding between the mother and baby as well as the baby’s health should be a priority.
Dr Ghada Sayed; Pediatrics Consultant, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Clinical Nutritionist.
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