As parents, we often have questions about all kinds of health issues relating to our kids - from illness to prevention to child development. Come ask the experts what you want to know about pediatric health! A selection of answers to your questions will be posted on the site each week.

Linda Shaw, MD

The question:
I feed my 6 week old once every hour from 8am to 9pm then every 3 hours at night but she acts like she wants more. She constantly cries during the day unless she is breastfeeding. Should I put her on formula?

The pediatrician answers:
No, you should not put your baby on formula. While infant formula is adequately nutritious, continued breastfeeding is optimal for your baby's health. Breastfeeding reduces the risks of allergies, infections, dental problems, childhood diabetes, childhood lymphoma and more.

What your baby is doing may be quite normal. At 6 weeks of age there is usually a growth spurt and the baby will breastfeed more frequently for awhile. If your baby is gaining weight well, she is getting plenty to eat. Breastfeeding should not be scheduled; just let the baby breastfeed as long as she wants at the first breast until she empties the breast effectively then offer her the second side. This will allow a full feeding and adequate caloric intake. It is quite normal for babies to breastfeed frequently for the first several weeks of life. As the baby gets older, she will spontaneously decrease her feeding frequency.

Babies are also individuals; some babies eat small amounts very frequently while others will take larger amounts farther apart. Babies also breastfeed for comfort; this is also normal. Babies do their most crying between 1-2 months of age, so her fussiness may reflect this physiological phase.

If the baby is not gaining weight well, then a visit to a lactation consultant might be helpful in order to assess the baby's latch-on and suckling effectiveness.


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