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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Denmark Feeding Schedule: Can It Work for Me?

Denmark Feeding Schedule: Can it work for me? #schedule #nursing #newbornLet’s all admit it – being a new mom is hard. There is advice coming at us from all angles and all advice seems to say something different. Add in sleep deprivation and the fear of making a mistake and ruining our children – you get my drift. It’s helpful to have things broken down to examine on our own. Let’s take a look at the Dr. Denmark Feeding Schedule and see if it can work for us while breastfeeding.

Dr. Denmark is a fairly well known and well respected pediatrician. She has written some books, the most popular being “Dr. Denmark Said It!” which outlines her feeding schedule.

The Dr. Denmark Feeding Schedule

  • Baby is to be fed every 4 hours beginning at birth.
  • Solids are to be started at 3 months old.
  • Solids are to be fed prior to giving breast or bottle.
  • Baby should be allowed to cry it out in between feedings to learn to wait for food.
  • Newborns should not be fed between 10pm and 6am.
  • By 5 months old, baby is eating just three times each day.

I’ll admit it. I was a bit shocked by this system. I heard from one mother who was a patient of Dr. Denmark’s as a child who said she is an amazing pediatrician but this mama does not care for her feeding schedule. I’ve heard from moms who swear by this method and have great outcomes. I’ve heard from some who thought it an utter failure.

But  – can it work for me?

We have to remember that every baby is different and every family is different. No method can be universally applied. For some, the idea of a schedule is very appealing. It takes a lot of guesswork out of the parenting equation. For others, a schedule seems too strict but a routine is nice. And then there are some who would prefer to simply go with the flow. And you know what? All are ok as long as baby’s needs are being met.

But – can it work for me? While breastfeeding?

My honest answer is likely, it won’t work well with exclusive breastfeeding. Our bodies just weren’t designed to work this way. Some may be fine, but most mamas will not. Let’s break it down.

  1. The AAP and WHO both recommend babies eat only breast milk for the first 6 months of life and recommend breastfeeding for at least one year with two years or more being optimum.
  2. In the early stages of breastfeeding, our bodies need frequent stimulation in the form of pumping or nursing in order to create a solid long-term milk supply. The recommendation is generally to nurse every 2-3 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours at night in the early months.
  3. Breast milk is digested very quickly – generally within 90 minutes. Waiting 4 hours is an awfully long time to wait hungry.
  4. Newborn stomachs are just the size of a marble. By one month, the stomach can hold about 2-3 oz. Expecting a newborn to be full after just a few drops and be able to wait four hours is dangerous. The AAP has spoken out against the BabyWise method of feeding which is in 3 hour intervals because of the number of babies who are classified Failure to Thrive while on that 3 hour schedule.
  5. Breastfeeding is more than just providing food. It is a source of hydration, food, plus an amazing source of comfort and security.
  6. By feeding solids before breastfeeding, baby is filling up on food that does not have the nutrition content of breast milk. This feeding order could create growth problems for baby.
  7. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for breast milk production and supply. It is at the highest levels during the middle of the night. By not nursing during the night, your body is not being stimulated well to produce adequate milk.
  8. Babies do best when fed on demand in the early days. There is really no NEED for baby to be on a schedule – it is up to the parents to decide.

So, while this feeding method may work for a few, it likely isn’t a good fit for most of the breastfeeding moms. It will likely cause milk supply to be lacking and cause mom to not be able to nurse beyond a year, if she makes it that far. It could potentially cause growth problems in baby. It involves a lot of crying time for baby as she adjusts to feeling hungry.

If you are looking for a more structured feeding schedule, first consider a routine where baby can show you when she is hungry and be fed. As baby grows, imposing more structure is easier and doesn’t come with as many risks to baby’s growth. Otherwise, consider the research done on infant feeding and start with feedings that are closer together – around 2 hours at birth – and adapt as baby grows.

I do realize that some parents don’t have another option – for example, the parents with babies in the NICU or parents with very strict demands on their time.  If you find yourself needing to start a schedule from birth, please know that it can be done. It is, however, very important to keep an eye on baby for signs of distress. Make sure baby is having plenty of wet and dirty diapers to be sure she is getting enough food and hydration. Be sure baby is happy and meeting milestones. If you notice that baby isn’t responding well to the feeding schedule, please adjust it and seek medical care.

In the end, we must all choose what is best for baby and what works for us, no matter what others say!

Have you heard of the Denmark Feeding Schedule? What are your thoughts?

edited photo by: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

Audra Michelle has been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for more than 6 years straight. Her first nursed for 15 months, her second for 14 months, and her third weaned at 27 months! Her first baby girl is thriving on breastmilk and will wean when she chooses.  Audra Michelle is a wife, mother, daughter, girlfriend, Jesus lover, and musician. You can find Audra Michelle blogging at UP and at Naturally Well.


  1. This feeding schedule is dangerous both in the limited breadtfeedings and in the introduction of solids so early. I think it is irresponsible to even suggest this schedule be used by anyone with a newborn.

  2. In no way is this method dangerous. It takes 2 to 3 hours for breast milk to digest. Leaving 30 minutes for the baby to aquire a hunger or an appetite. If you follow feeding every 4 hours your baby will be happy even every 3.5 hours depending on your baby. Every baby is different. my baby didn’t even feed at birth but every 3 hours. I tried every 2, but he was too full and wouldn’t nurse. Her method has worked for thousands of babies and is backed by decades of experience. Not only that, but it’s common sense. Sure it sounds strange at first, but it really works. I have a happy, healthy month old who has been sleeping through the night since he was 2 weeks old

    • Breastmilk is digested within 90 minutes, not 2-3 hours. If the AAP is opposed to the Babywise method which has lead to failure to thrive in infants plus the death of a few infants, when the Babywise method is centered around 3 hour feeding schedule, then it is common sense that this schedule is even more dangerous. As stated in the post, there may be a small number of babies who thrive on it, but most will not. The strict adherence to schedules with babies is problematic in itself as babies’ needs change. We must adjust to what our babies need. When we ignore hunger or thirst or comfort in a baby, they learn to stop crying because they learn that their needs won’t be met. I must disagree that this is common sense. Try putting yourself on a strict schedule like this – absolutely no stopping at a water fountain if you need a quick swig of water. No snack after doing extra activity…. that’s not healthy for anyone.

  3. Karen Freeman says

    OMG I jut heard about this today from a young first time mother with a month old. She came with him for an appointment with me, he was crying. I said, “No problem, when we go up you can feed him”. Oh no she says, leave him downstairs so we can hear ourselves talk. He is on a schedule. Dr. Denmark.” I asked if i could pick him up . He immediately stopped crying, I held him close, he started rooting and I could feel his little heart just pounding.

    Dr. Denmark, she says, thinks babies should be trained from birth to only eata every 4 hours, sleep through the night. What? Be trained not to be what a human infant is? Needy and dependent? Made me absolutely sick to hear this woman’s ignorance and buying into such a cruel and dangerous thing. All that will train this baby is to shut down and learn at an early age not to trust, he will be insecure, needy. Would she like to be trained not to want love and affection, to be alone in the world? To be hungry, not trust you own instincts?

    And she pumps her mild to feed it to him in a bottle. I asked her why she was not nursing him. Oh he could not latch on properly. I told her I spent over 10 years helping mothers and babies latch on properly, that is it not too late if she wants to. Oh no, she says, I won’t be able to anyway when I go back to work. She works from home!! Ideal work situation for nursing a newborn.

    I can not believe such a horrible parenting method is even out there.

    But what do I know? I starting taking care of my infant siblings at the age of 5, baby sat for neighbors, from the age of 11, have a degree in Child development, taught parenting classes, trained early childhood caregivers and teachers, studied parenting around the world, was a La Leche League leader for over 10 years and raised 5 children, all breastfed.

    • Father of a now 1 month old boy who’s current height and weight was in the 95th percentile and now is in the 99th%

      It’s understandable and yet still so disappointing that you’d think to compare your limited experience (that includes your 5 year self as a reference and babysitting) to that of the women who pioneered the vaccine that has saved millions of babies lives and you likely received yourself.

      The idea that the lady who has cared for babies for over 70 years and has had 0 reported cases of SIDS, 5 generation of repeated family care before you even picked up your infant sibling and decades before you picked up your first book, has factored in the health and well being of her babies is severely lacking in “common sense”

      She has her doctorates degree, you have BA degree
      She’s practiced medicine for over 75 years will no medical malpractice suits against her.
      You’ve baby sat your neighbor’s kids

      Their are currently billions of people, new mother’s and yes… Babies in the world. All of which have a different desire of how to raise a child. Don’t be foolish and reckless enough to trounce on such a trusted and respected method based on your limited experience and exposer

      For those who are concerned if this method is safe, it’s working well for our son who is growing strong and at a pace above “the standard “if metrics as well as the Booth Family for the past Five Generation (who thankfully introduced us to it)

      In this house we’re all rested and well nourished

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