Should You Wake Your Baby Up to Breastfeed?

When you are reluctant to wake your sleeping baby, it is fully understandable. They look so peaceful while sleeping. And when you consider the time they spend crying and awake, particularly in the middle of the night when you too are exhausted, it appears like you are doing a crime by waking them up. However, while the nursing schedule of a newborn may seem difficult, still, it is critical for their health and to stimulate your milk supply, even if it implies disturbing their and your dreams.

Should I Wake My Baby to Feed?

Whether a sleeping infant should be woken up for feeding depends on the weight, overall health and age of the baby. Weight is lost during the initial few days post birth by majority of the newborns. Until your infant regains the lost weight-generally within a week post birth, it’s imperative to feed them frequently. This may require waking them for feeding occasionally, particularly if they sleep for greater than 4 hours at a stretch.

However, once your baby starts gaining weight and accomplishes the milestone of their birth weight, you can wait to feed them till they wake up.

Majority of the newborns require between eight and 12 feedings in a day-around 1 feed every 2-3 hours. Though you may feel bad waking up your baby to feed; however, feeding them frequently early on is important due to the following reasons:

You should remember that there are specific nutritional requirements of premature babies. Moreover, they may not show signs or symptoms of hunger reliably till they become older. In case your baby is premature or you have concern regarding the weight gain or feeding pattern of your baby, consult their physician for specific recommendation.

How to Wake Your Baby to Feed?

Much of the sleep time of babies is spent in active sleep from which they can be easily aroused and when aroused they are likely to feed. By keeping a watch on signs of your baby’s active sleep such as eyelids fluttering, finger and facial movements and irregular breathing, you may know when you can wake your baby to feed. You don’t require to fully wake your baby to breastfeed them, but they should have enough alertness to suck the breast and transfer milk. Some additional suggestions to wake a sleeping baby are:

After discussing “Should I wake my baby to feed?” and how to wake your sleeping baby let’s discuss how to keep them breastfeeding. Since majority of the babies are likely to sleep again, the below mentioned tips will help you in keeping your baby continue breastfeeding after waking up:

In case you are not able to keep your newborn awake; express your breast milk with a pump or by hand. This helps in building your supply of milk and you can use this milk to feed your baby (apart from breastfeeding). The expressed milk can be given to the baby using a spoon, cup, breastfeeding supplementer or bottle. To discuss which of the above mentioned options may work for your baby and you, you may contact an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).

When to Let Your Baby to Sleep?

Should I wake my baby to feed? You already know it. But when to let your baby to sleep? 

As your newborn develops and grows, there are changes in their sleeping pattern. More of their time is spent in deep sleep and less is spent in light sleep. When they become 2-3 months old, their circadian rhythms start emerging and they are also influenced by environmental factors including nighttime and daytime. After this age, many babies sleep for the longest duration at a stretch during the night time. Your baby’s duration of sleep at night will increase gradually as they get older, though at times they may wake at night frequently to breastfeed.

The old saying that a baby who feeds a bottle before going to bed sleeps all through the night, is a myth. In fact, mothers who breastfeed their babies get more sleep during the night than mothers who feed formula to their babies.

It is most important to be patient. Though, you have to begin by waking your newborn to breastfeed them, before long, they will start waking on their own to feed. If your baby is gaining weight and growing well, follow their lead and let them sleep for the duration they want, particularly at night.

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