What is a full feeding for an infant?

Dear Mama,

People often ask, “What is a full feeding?” When I had my daughter, I didn’t need anyone to explain what a full feeding was. Full feeds were easy for me to come by. If I didn’t cut her off she might still be eating! Ha! After implementing The Full Feedings Method, I realized that my feeds were actually a little too full…there is such a thing.

I hated how small she was and I wanted her to chunk up immediately, so I fed her for 40-minutes with almost no burp breaks. It was exhausting for us both. This turned her into an over tired monster and made sleep impossible to come by…

Thankfully, I read/watched Ann’s content on full feedings and I started to get the hang of full feeds. With a few burp breaks, my daughter went from a terror to an absolute dream in less than a week.

Full feedings are the focus of Step #1 of The Full Feedings Method and once we get this down we are one step closer to 12 hours of consistent nighttime sleep for your baby! 

So what is a full feeding?

  • For breastfeeding, we want 30 minutes total feeding time.
  • For bottle feeding, we want 30 minutes to finish an age-appropriate amount of milk.

(NOTE: This mainly applies to babies 6-months and under and includes burp time, as long as it’s not excessive.)

When starting from birth, the hardest part about accomplishing full feeds may be working towards keeping your baby awake the whole time. This is normal. We want to gently stimulate your baby to stay awake for the full 30 minutes.

How do you do this?

  • Change their diaper.
  • Undress them slightly to rouse them enough to keep drinking. 
  • Take short breaks to look around.
  • Tickle their cheek/chin.
  • Get a breath of fresh air (if temperatures permit)

If you work to establish full feedings from birth, you will be very happy you did. If your baby is older and you are just reading this now, you can gently work to increase feed time/amount and if you work methodically you should be able to increase to full feedings.

If you have a baby over the age of 12-weeks, who refuses to take a full feed in one sitting, you can try doing EAT PLAY EAT SLEEP in some cycles to try and total a full feeding between sleeps. Obviously the goal is to consolidate feeds to lighten your work load, but since hungry babies don’t sleep well, it’s best to ensure baby is getting fully fed in each cycle, no matter how you do it. 

Keep in mind, as your baby gets closer to 6 months of age, they will most likely become a more efficient eater. This means that time at the breast will be less and time spent finishing bottles will be less. It is common for feeds from 6-9 to be closer to 15-20 minutes including burping. After 9 months, it would be anywhere from 10-15 minutes or perhaps even less. 

If you start from birth to establish full feedings, and work to maintain those throughout the first year, you will have developed one of the main ingredients for infant sleep. So, if you want to know how to start The Full Feedings Method, full feeds are exactly where to start!

If you are a member, here’s some helpful content from The Full Feedings Method Infant Online Program OTHER INGREDIENTS section to help with establishing and maintaining full feedings:

METHOD CONCEPTS > ALL FEEDS SHOULD BE FULL FEEDS
METHOD CONCEPTS > WHY FEEDS SHOULD TAKE 30 MINUTES
METHOD CONCEPTS > HUNGRY BABIES DON’T SLEEP WELL…

EAT > HOW TO KEEP BABY AWAKE & FOCUSED WHILE EATING
EAT > MY BABY REFUSES TO EAT MORE
EAT > MY BABY WAS EATING WELL AND SUDDENLY STOPPED
EAT > BIRTH TO 4.5 WEEKS OLD
EAT > WHAT IS A FULL FEED?
EAT > COMBINATION FEEDING

BREASTFEEDING > EAT PLAY EAT SLEEP
BREASTFEEDING > CLUSTER FEEDS
BREASTFEEDING > CAN I DO THE FULL FEEDINGS METHOD AND FEED ON-DEMAND

BOTTLE FEEDING >
EAT PLAY EAT SLEEP FOR THE BOTTLE FED BABY

However you choose to feed your baby, just make sure you are feeding them fully and you will be well on your way to consistent nighttime sleep.

To sleeping well,
Kelly

P.S. If you’re not yet a member, you can learn more about the Infant program here. Let’s make today the beginning of the end of your sleepless nights, mama!