What is a ‘flexi feeding routine’ and how do you apply it to a newborn?

Make no mistake new mums, babies are cheeky. From birth. If you give them an inch they will take a mile! Indulgent by nature babies will appreciate any form of excess that you allow them.

Do I sound vague? Yes.

I’m talking specifically about feeding.

Here’s an example: my little niece is a month old and is feeding up an absolute frenzy. She barely sleeps during the day because she is apparently always hungry and is waking every hour at night apparently hungry. Mum (who is breastfeeding) says growth spurt and GP says “ridiculous” and recommends scheduling her feeds.

It’s quite a conundrum.

A ‘flexi feeding routine’ might be the solution….What is a ‘flexi feeding routine’?

My cousin, mum of three lovely girls, wrote a brilliant explanation of a ‘flexi-routine’ that I couldn’t describe any better, so I am sharing it in her words:

“I am breastfeeding. My observation is that newborns might show signs of wanting to feed but often those signs are linked more to the fact that they desire comfort and find comfort in sucking.

For instance in the hospital I had just fed me new baby and not half an hour later she was showing signs of wanting to feed (suck). I noticed, however, that she was also uncomfortable so instead of just breastfeeding her I massaged her tummy and out came a fair amount of wind and meconium poo followed. After that she settled down, stopped showing signs of wanting to suck/feed and went to sleep.

There are different methods of comforting a newborn. If a newborn is hungry, certainly feed them.

But feeding will not sooth a sore tummy if there’s a wind build up, or a sore bottom if a nappy needs to be changed, or ease the pain if there’s a wind trapped a tummy.

So, for me, a flexi-routine means that I do not feed less than 2 hours from the beginning of the last feed unless I assess the situation and there seems to be no other reason why my baby wants to feed. I also do not let her, usually, sleep longer than 3 hours. But then again if I see that she’s fast asleep and not ready for a feed I’ll wait half an hour to an hour and then check again. She is getting 8 feeds in the space of 24 hours (the recommended amount is 8 – 10) and I try to make sure that when I do feed her she gets in a full feed, not just a snack.

The benefit for me is that my milk gets a chance to build up over those first two hours and I give my breasts a rest. The benefit for her is that she’s receiving the benefit of a full feed because I have enough milk at every feed.”

So a flexi-routine is exactly as its name suggests; having a routine but being flexible within that routine – if your baby is sleeping through a feed, assess the situation; perhaps wait half an hour to an hour and then wake her up for food. And this type of thinking can be applied to any type of routine that you have established with your new baby.

My little niece is not a teensy tiny newborn anymore nut her feeding is certainly excessive. Either it is growth-spurting or her need to suck has been indulged and she is taking full advantage of that fact. It’s really difficult to figure out the right thing to do. In this instance, a flexi –routine would hopefully manage baby’s need to suck but also ensure that she’s getting enough food. So it’s a win-win – happy mum, happy GP and hopefully happy baby!

I, without being conscious of what method I was using, implemented a flexi feeding routine with both my girls. I just did what worked best for both me and my babies. And after a couple of months of hard work, they both learnt how to self-soothe and were happy little feeders.

This is obviously just my experience. It’s different for all mums and different things work for different children. But if my little scenario does sound like something that you might be going through, a flexi-routine is definitely worth a try!

What sort of feeding method worked best for you and your newborn? And do you have any tips for mums whose babies are feeding excessively or going through a growth spurt?