Updated: May 1, 2019
I love when I am asked this question. I find that a lot of mom's take the feed on demand option. They want to make sure their baby is getting enough milk. I on the other hand favor keeping a routine.
Let me explain why I favor keeping a routine. In any situation you can set a routine for your baby. Babies take to schedules pretty easy the younger they are. Let's look at a baby who is born premature or on the lower end of what would be considered a normal birth weight. Of course this can vary giving the genetics of your family. However a baby whom is considered a preemie would need to eat more to increase their weight. You decide to feed every time baby cries. This is still setting the baby on a schedule. Your baby is learning that when they cry you give them milk. They then learn to eat even though they may not be hungry. On the other hand you decide that I am going to set a schedule and every 1 1/2 - 2 hours I will feed my baby. As they begin to gain weight you begin to stretch you schedule by 30 min time frames. In between allowing your baby time to soothe and sense when they are really hungry. Of course this is my theory and what I have done with mommies I have worked with. Yes it has worked every time.
In my experience on demand feeding has worked for some mommies if done correctly. You have to remember every cry is not a hunger cry. We will go over that in another blog. Sometimes it can be hard to know whether your baby is hungry or just needs to soothe. It can also start a cycle of gas and acid reflux due to overfeeding. Newborns stomach do not stretch at the beginning . They can only hold small amounts of milk. This is why a breastfeeding mother produce a small amount of colostrum. See : https://www.lllc.ca/thursday-tip-newborns-have-small-stomachs for more information on this topic.
Feeding on Schedule
When working with mother's I recommend feeding on schedule. This allows us to better track when and how much their baby is getting. Knowing how much a baby's stomach can hold will help you better understand what your baby needs. Of course there are some babies who may need a different approach due to health concerns. Please work with your pediatrician to understand your baby's health and weight gain. Even mothers who nurse find a schedule more helpful. You can't see what your baby is getting so we track by timing each feed and having a set time on each breast. Watch for signs your baby is full or needs to burp before switching sides. Keep a log. This will show some consistency. You will now be able to set a schedule and increase your feeding time according to your baby's needs. Try not to let your baby use you as a pacifier.
Again this is my view and it is your choice how you chose to feed your little one. I am a big advocate of mommies using their instincts to care for their baby. Happy Feeding!