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What’s "Normal"?

By MadelinePetersen |

A few weeks ago, when I took Tate to his 2 month check up, we went through the normal weight, height, and head measurements and talked about a few milestones that we should be expecting in the near future. Then out of the blue, our pediatrician asked something that stopped me in my tracks. “Has he started nursing every three to four hours yet?”

My response came out muddled, “Um, no. Not even close.”

Tate still cluster feeds like crazy.  He eats all morning, he eats all evening and my saving grace is that his eating schedule seems to allow him to take a solid afternoon nap and to sleep until morning. Everyone I know says things like, “Isn’t it nice how quickly they start eating at this age?” Or I’ve heard, “Aren’t you so relieved he doesnt eat as often as he used to?” After these comments, I am left stammering because the only thing that has changed about Tate’s feeding habit is how much he eats at a time.

This of course brings up the ever asked question, What is normal? How concerned should we be when the baby deviates?

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About MadelinePetersen



Madeline blogs and tweets about budget-friendly clothes, modest apparel, sales, her obsession with pop culture, and her pudgy little baby, Tate, on her personal blog, Uber Chic for Cheap. A former Babble contributor, she currently resides in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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13 thoughts on “What’s "Normal"?

  1. Lou says:

    My kid is 5 months next week, and still nurses about every 2 hours like clockwork. he stretches it to about every 3 during the night. Cluster feedings happen when he is cranky or tired. I sort of suspect this won’t change much until he is almost entirely on solids. We haven’t even started rice cereal yet.

  2. alyssa says:

    Let him eat when he wants! He’s a baby and is doing what comes naturally for him. Has the doc ever nursed a baby? No. I nursed my son on demand. He slowly got in a routine and nursed less when he ate more solids. Now, at fifteen months, he nurses three times a day. He is so healthy and happy. Don’t change a thing. You’re the mom.

  3. Anna says:

    I agree. My 5 1/2 months old also nurses very regularly during the day, but then only for 3-5 minutes. We’re starting on solids soon, but I’m happy with him eating when he needs to. You’re the mom, do what feels best to you!

  4. Lindsey says:

    My babies NEVER went four hours. Three at the most, and that wasn’t until he was 5 months old. At two months, if I remember right, they were still eating every 1.5 − 2 hours.

  5. Monica says:

    On demand nursing doesn’t have a schedule at all. If he’s gaining at a normal rate then he’s eating how he needs to eat. My 6 month old still gets up at night to nurse. It was just recently that she stopped staying on the breast for 15 minutes or more at every feed. She goes through fazes where she eats more frequently. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

  6. Susannah says:

    I’d just echo what the other moms here are saying – I found the old adage “watch your baby, not the clock” to be really reassuring. In my experience, young babies – especially those 6 mos and younger – go through so many growth spurts, some predictable and some not, that any notion of a firm, enduring schedule is sort of a pipe dream. I’ve got a 5 month old and her eating patterns vary pretty wildly from week to week, day to day, depending on teething, growth spurts, moodiness, the phase of the moon – who knows? Sometimes, she’ll go as much as four hours between feedings; the next day, she’s hassling me for quick little nursing sessions all day long. If you’re comfortable doing so, I’d say just keep nursing as you are, when he’s giving you cues he needs to eat, and politely nod and smile noncommittally for a while when your pediatrician asks you about feeding schedules. I figure babies (especially breastfeeding babies) know best what their food needs are, and nursing is a lovely, self-regulating sort of feedback loop between you and the little man. In this case, I think you and your kiddo really do know best.

  7. mama b says:

    My daughter from day one was a 3-4 hour kid, every every 3 hours or so she ate. My doc stressed me out when she was born because she said I needed to nurse her every 2 hours and wake her up to feed. After a day or so at home it was obvious that was just plain ridiculous and not happening. My son on the other hand went literally 7 hours, but then would nurse for over 2 hours. Everyone is different. My daughter at age almost 5 now sleeps through the night most nights, her brother has basically slept through the night since birth. I wouldn’t be concerned we all are different, all babies are.

  8. cocoschmoco says:

    Both my kids didn’t start to space out nursing sessions until 3-4 months. I nurse on demand, and my ten-month-old snacks at the boob all day long, still, though he can go a long time without it if we get busy…no worries if Tate’s gaining well and happy!

  9. Meagan says:

    My baby is almost 10 weeks and still cluster feeding. Met with some women from my birthing class yesterday and was VERY jealous of the mom with baby the same age who goes 7 1/2 hours at night!

    My baby still eats continually and he still needs to legitimately need it. He jumped from 50 th % height/weight at birth to 85/75 % at his 1 month. His 2 month is Wednesday ani expect similar… he’s making good use of that food!

  10. Nancy says:

    Neither of my girls were “quick nursers.” I remember one woman saying to me, “oh, mine eats in 5 minutes and he’s done!” which made me feel totally insecure but I got over it. There are about a million definitions of normal. If something is not right, you’ll know it.

  11. Erin says:

    I was browbeaten almost to the point of almost quitting nursing by doctors, lactation conslutants, nurses, and pretty much anyone involved in my care or my baby’s care when she was a newborn. If I hadn’t been so unshakingly committed to nursing, I would have stopped. She was not a clockwork nurser, and often liked to go 4-5 hours without a feeding. Following advice, I tried to force her to go every 2 hours from start to start. She wouldn’t do it, no matter how hard I tried. She would just lie there, sleeping. I thought there was something wrong with her and that she wasn’t eating normally. I was told to jostle her awake, strip her down naked, put cold cloths on her… do all of these horrible things to make her uncomfortable, and hence, awake, so that she’d nurse on the schedule that these experts wanted her to nurse on. She was miserable and so was I. Finally her ped told me to nurse her on demand over the weekend and we did a weight comparison before after. She had gained several ounces. The on-demand nursing was fine. I had gone through hell for nothing. Screw the experts. My daughter is now a healthy 2 year old. I will listen to my baby next time around, not the doctors.

  12. Naomi says:

    I think what all these ladies are saying (and what I’m adding) is really normal, and not what the pediatrician says. I have yet to meet someone who has a baby that magically switches to eating every 3-4 hours at 2 months, or even 3 or 4 months. Not to freak you out, but have you read my post about how often my 11 month old is nursing??

  13. Heidi Lapczynska says:

    Every baby is different and they know when they are hungry. My son ate every 2 hrs for the first 4 months, 3 hrs for month 5-6 and he’s almost 8 months and still has 2-3 feedings at night. I know that it’s exhausting but i cant deprive my son of food. Hang in there, Even though a Dr. tells you something, it doesnt mean that you have to follow it. They tell me i should let him cry until he falls asleep, but he’s hungry so i will be “that Mom” and feed him. =)

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