Breastfeeding On Demand: Is it Right for Your Baby?

Is breastfeeding on demand the best way to feed your baby? Look at the pros and cons of letting your baby decide when to eat, then make your own decision.

What does breastfeeding on demand even mean?  It means just what it says, you feed your baby when he demands it.  When they show signs of being hungry, like sucking his fingers or crying, rather than feeding him by a schedule you may have set (like every 2 or 4 hours).  When I had my son (he is almost 4 months old) they told me in the hospital that if he eats 2 ounces, then he will be hungry 2 hours later, 4 ounces, 4 hours, you get the idea.  That has never been true for him!  So what are some of the benefits and maybe not-so-great things about breastfeeding on demand?

Related: How to Overcome Common Breastfeeding Challenges

Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding on Demand

If you feed your baby when he is hungry, your supply will meet his demand.  You will (most likely) not get the dreaded and painful engorged breasts because it’s time to feed him (according to your breasts) yet it isn’t ‘time’.

You might feel like you are nursing your newborn constantly, and that might be true (maybe one of the not-so-great things?)  Keep in mind that your baby’s stomach is tiny, and your breastmilk is easily absorbed.  Also, it might take a couple weeks for your milk to come in completely.  Just keep nursing, the more you nurse the faster it will come in.

Related: Benefits of Breastfeeding Your Newborn Baby

Eventually you will get to know your baby’s feeding schedule.  Until then, you could be out and about and he starts to get demanding and needs to nurse.  So you need to stop what you are doing and nurse him.  Just when you think you have his nursing schedule down, he will throw a wrench into the mix!  He may have days where he feeds more, and just know that he is growing.  My son does this now.  I will be thinking ‘I  just fed you, how could you possibly be hungry again?’ These are typically the days he tends to sleep more as well.  Growth spurts!

Something to keep in mind if you are feeding on demand rather than a feeding schedule, is that if your baby is sick, he may not be as demanding.  He may be sleeping more and not wake for hunger.  During these times, keep an eye on him and the clock. It’s OK to wake him to make sure he is fed.
It is always great when moms can share their experiences with other moms.  What have you done with your babies?  Whether they are grown and have their own kids or are babies, share your stories with us!  We can read as many books as we want, but nothing beats true life stories from other moms.

Did you use the breastfeeding on demand method? Use the comments section below to share your stories!


15 thoughts on “Breastfeeding On Demand: Is it Right for Your Baby?”

  1. Both of my kids are breastfed babies. They’re now 12 and almost 9. Both of them will not take any pacifier or bottles. I have no choice but to breastfed them. The only thing is hard is when you’re in the public and your baby is hungry, have no choice but stay in the corner, cover and feed your babies.

  2. I think its important for mums to know it can be challenging, absolutely, but the term ‘demand’ is misused. When mums breastfeed they are being highly ‘responsive’ mums
    . Your baby does have a tiny tummy & breastmilk digests quickly. Also, with breastfeeding the more you feed the more milk you produce. Because your baby lets you know in lots of small ways they are hungry like licking lips, looking for mum, sucking fingers, turning if you touch their cheek, (crying is their last desperate attempt to get food) it means you are responding a lot to their needs, and that is especially intensive in the first 6-8 weeks.
    . Also, trying to feed to a routine can seriously affect your milk supply & lead to complications that can mean you don’t breastfeed as long as you wanted to.
    The info given to you about amounts was wrong & adds to the many feeding myths that make it harder for new mums.
    Cheers Angie xx

  3. Rebecca Swenor

    I guess when I breastfed I did use breastfeeding on demand. I only breastfeed my youngest son and he pretty much had a schedule all the time but I actually left it up to him which in turn meant that he ate when he wanted too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Breastfeeding on demand is the way to establish a successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby. I have nursed for more than 11 years through 3 kids. It’s one thing I’m truly passionate about.

  5. I have heard so many different approaches to breast feeding. I would imagine that it’s very confusing for new moms! Thanks for the information.

  6. Very useful and important information indeed. I have always preferred breast feeding for my babies. It has many health benefits when you compare with the bottle feed as of my own experience.

  7. This is such useful information. A lot of new parents who are interested in breastfeeding are confused as to how, exactly, it will work for them and their baby. This is a great starting off point to learn more.

  8. I was only able to breastfeed each of my kids for a couple of months. I used this method and never had any issues.

  9. I wasn’t able to breast feed my kids. I don’t have any experience in this area but I give kudos to all the moms that can!

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