Should i wake my 3 month old baby to feed at night

Should I Wake My Baby Up to Eat at Night? – BabySparks

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A sleeping baby and a clock that says it’s feeding time can present quite the dilemma! This is especially true when it’s late at night, you’ve had a long day, and looking at your little one fast asleep can only be described as pure bliss. Is it okay to let your baby sleep? Or should you rouse them awake for a feeding? Here are a few important things to consider to help you make the right choice.



●       Many new parents are faced with the dilemma of waking a sleep infant for a feeding, or letting them sleep.

●       It’s important to consider things like their age, weight, and current sleep patterns when making this decision.

●       For newborns, since they need to maintain healthy weight gain, it’s recommended to wake them for a feeding in the first few weeks of life.

●       As they develop, and as long as they’re at a healthy weight, it’s okay to allow them to sleep a little longer and stretch out their feeding schedule.

●       Using gentle rousing techniques, such as singing softly or slowly turning up the lights, can help ease your baby into a nighttime feeding.


Things to Consider

As you’ve probably already discovered, babies rarely have perfectly structured sleep/feeding schedules, and these schedules continue to change as they develop. In order to know if it’s okay to let your baby sleep for an extra hour or two, or wake them to feed at night, it helps to consider things like their age, if they’re at a healthy weight, and their current sleep patterns.

In the first few weeks of life, newborns’ little tummies digest breast milk fairly quickly, which means they need to be fed every 2-3 hours. Formula typically takes longer to digest, so bottle-fed babies can go 3-4 hours between feedings. To make sure your newborn is growing, developing, and maintaining proper weight gain, it’s important to wake them for nighttime feedings. This also helps breastfeeding moms keep up with the pace of their milk production.

However, this feeding schedule changes as they grow. For instance, around 2-3 months, some babies are able to sleep through the night (5-6 hours). As long as your little one is at a healthy weight, it’s perfectly okay to let them sleep for a little longer and stretch out their feeding schedule as they develop. Of course, all babies have different sleep patterns and develop in unique ways, so parents and caregivers need to gauge these moments according to what’s best for their child. If you’re still unsure about whether you should wake your baby to eat in the night, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician for guidance.

Waking a Baby to Feed

If you’ve considered their age, weight, and current sleep pattern and you’ve concluded that it is time to wake your child up to eat, here are some rousing techniques for newborns that can help them ease into a meal without startling them awake.

Talk or Sing Softly

Remember that your newborn loves the sound of your voice, so talking or singing softly is a great way to gently wake them up.

Slowly Turn the Lights Up

Presenting a little bit of light into the room, yet still at a dim level, can help stimulate a baby just enough to help them prepare for a feeding.

Use a Soft Touch

A soft infant massage can soothe the senses while also inviting them into a waking stage.

Look for the REM Cycle

It can sometimes be easier to wake a baby for a feeding if they’re reaching their REM cycle, which is the active sleep stage. Once you see their eyes flutter, their arms moving, or their legs kicking, you can begin to slowly and gently wake them.

If you’re reluctant to wake your sleeping newborn for a feeding, you’re definitely not alone! But when it comes to an infant’s health, nutrition, and development, a meal often takes precedence over a snooze.


Sleep 3 – 6 months

Baby sleep

Babies vary a lot in the amount of sleep they need. Between the age of 3 and 6 months, some babies have 2 or 3 longish sleeps during the day, while others just have short naps. A few sleep 12 hours at night without interruption, some manage 8 hours while many others wake fairly regularly for feeds. Most have learned to sleep more at night than they do during the day.

If you are happy with your baby’s sleep pattern, there is no need to change it. There are many ways to be ‘normal’.

Responding to your baby’s cues of when she needs to sleep, play, feed, or be cuddled, is important in helping develop secure attachment.

Sleeping baby in a safe cot next to the parents' bed for the first 6 to 12 months reduces the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy, including SIDS, as long as the room is smoke free.

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn – please change to suit your child's sex.

Daytime and night time patterns

By this age your baby will be starting to learn about the difference between day and night.

  • You can help your baby get into a daytime pattern. After he has had a feed, play with him for a while, so that he does not go to sleep straight after a feed. Babies who go to sleep straight after a feed may get into the pattern of needing a feed at night to go back to sleep.
  • Watch your baby for signs that he is tired, or for signs that he wants to play, so that the pattern best meets his needs.
  • There are lots of things that you can do during play time at this age, such as cuddles, a walk, time on the floor or in a baby seat with toys, going shopping, or visiting.
  • These play times will help your baby to learn that daytime is the time to be awake.
  • During the day, your baby will usually have 2 or 3 sleeps. It is a good idea not to let him sleep for too long (perhaps no more than 2 hours) especially late in the day, as he may not sleep as long during the night. You may want to wake him gently when you see him stirring.
  • At night time, do not have play times – keep feed times ‘boring’ and settle him straight back to sleep.

Ideas for settling and soothing

  • Place your baby on her back in the bassinet or cot.
  • Pat your baby, or jiggle the cot in a regular rhythm. You may need to pat or rock quickly at first, then slow down as your baby calms down. Stop before your baby goes to sleep.
  • Sing to your baby, or put on the radio. Other regular noises such as the washing machine or dryer can help.
  • You could darken the room for night sleeps. Day sleep could be in a brighter, noisier place – but if this does not work try the darker, quieter place.
  • Some babies settle better if wrapped fairly firmly in a thin cotton sheet with the arms wrapped in too, while others do not like this, and settle better if they can use their hands to soothe themselves. The wrap should not be too tight and must allow chest wall, hip and leg movement.
  • If your baby has reached the rolling over milestone, wrapping is not recommended as it may lead to suffocation.
  • Your baby will learn about going to sleep more quickly if you try to use the same settling ideas each time, day or night.

Night time

It is still normal for babies to have feeds during the night.

  • You could try a ‘late feed’ or ‘sleepy feed’ at about 10pm, before you go to bed, and this may help your baby to sleep longer. Disturb her as little as possible. Lift her without fully waking her and feed.
  • Some babies start waking again at night when their appetite increases. This extra feed increases the breast milk supply. They usually settle again when they are having more food.
  • Babies have some ‘growing’ times when they are more fussy.

Look after yourself

  • Broken sleep makes everyone exhausted and irritable.
  • Ask for help from family and friends.
  • Get some rest during the day.
  • Take a short break from parenting now and then.
  • Try to get some regular exercise.

You will get lots of advice. Some people may suggest that you let your baby ‘cry it out’ or that you use controlled crying/comforting. This is not good for babies. Babies need you to respond when they need you. This helps them to feel safe and secure.

More information

Local community, school or child health nurse

  • See inside your baby's purple All About Me book
  • Look in the service finder for child health centres
  • Visit your nearest child health centre

Local family doctor

Ngala Parenting Line 

  • 8.00am – 8.00pm 7 days a week
  • Phone: (08) 9368 9368
  • Outside metro area – Free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only)
  • Visit the Ngala website (external site)

Raising Children Network

  • Visit the Raising Children Network website (external site)

    © Women’s and Children’s Health Network, reproduced with permission. The South Australian Government does not accept responsibility for the accuracy of this reproduction.


    Child and Adolescent Health Service – Community Health (CAHS CH)

    This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

    See also

    • Child development
    • Child development 3–6 months

    How to wake up a baby for feeding and whether it is necessary to wake up a baby in the afternoon



    For any parent, the question of whether to wake up the baby is not easy. On the one hand, there are fears that a child who has been sleeping for a long time will not be able to fall asleep later, and on the other hand, how to raise such an angel who has been put to bed for so long...

    so that his sleep is not affected.

    Let's start with the smallest children. You've probably heard the phrase "never wake a sleeping baby." But it is not always fair. Some newborn babies wake up on their own for feedings, while others need to be awakened. Whether or not you need to wake your baby depends on their age, weight, and overall health.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waking your baby for feedings if he sleeps more than 4 hours in the first two weeks of life. On average, a baby needs feeding every 2-3 hours.

    Frequent feeding is very important for several reasons:

    1. The baby's stomach is very small, the baby quickly digests breast milk. Faster than a mix. Therefore, physiologically, the child necessarily needs frequent feedings every 2-3 hours.
    2. Babies can sometimes sleep even when hungry, thus malnourished, which affects their development.
    3. After birth, the baby loses 5-10% of its body weight. And in the first weeks he needs to gain weight. Lack of milk or formula slows down this process.
    4. A short interval between feedings helps to maintain lactation. That allows you to avoid problems with a shortage of milk in the future.

    Tears already signal strong hunger. Therefore, it is better to breastfeed the baby before the baby starts crying. Learn to recognize the early signs of hunger: the baby puts his hand in his mouth, smacks his lips, tossing and turning when he sleeps.

    Should the baby be woken up to feed during the day? In general, if an infant sleeps for more than 3 hours in one dream during daylight hours, he must be awakened. Then the mother can feed the already awakened baby. This makes it possible to adjust the work of the biological rhythms of the baby.

    How to Wake Up

    • Help your child gradually fall asleep by stroking their arms, legs or lightly tickling them.
    • Change diaper. Often this is enough for the baby to wake up and be ready to eat.
    • Undress and place skin to skin on your chest. You can squeeze a few drops of milk onto your baby's mouth. He will smell and taste it and begin to suck on the breast.
    • Speak - he will hear your voice and wake up.
    • Do not turn on bright lights. A dim light is sufficient. The bright light will blind your eyes.
    • If the baby has attached to the breast but has not begun to suckle, stroke his cheek.

    How long to feed

    As soon as the baby wakes up and starts to eat, make sure that the feeding is long enough to empty at least one breast. So we will know that he ate hind milk, which is necessary for the growth of the child's body. Some babies take 45 minutes or more to feed one breast, and some do it in 10 minutes.

    The sucking reflex promotes falling asleep. Therefore, make sure that the baby does not fall asleep while feeding. If he falls asleep, change position, lift him up to burp, and then start feeding again.

    By 6 months you will have a more or less predictable eating schedule. But each baby will have his own. Some of the children eat every 2 hours, and someone is able to stay without food for 3-4 hours by the second month of life. This is especially true for children who are formula fed.

    The length of time between feedings increases as the child grows older. By the age of six months, many babies can already go without supplements at night or are able to sleep for longer periods.

    If a child wakes up too often after 6 months and asks for food at night, perhaps this is no longer hunger, but a way to relax and fall asleep.

    Avoid using a pacifier in the first weeks after delivery. The pacifier helps the child to calm down and prolong sleep. So you may not notice that your baby is hungry. Therefore, start using a pacifier no earlier than 4-6 weeks and when you are lactating.

    Should the baby be woken up to feed formula? As with breastfeeding, the newborn needs frequent formula feeding. But the interval will be more than 3-4 hours.

    When it is necessary to wake up the child

    It is important to wake up the baby in the morning if he has fallen asleep later than 7.00. This is especially true for children who still sleep 1-2-3 times during the day and have already developed a relatively stable routine. So you create the perfect routine in the morning.

    After waking up, children need time to work up their fatigue for their next nap, the ideal window for which is around 9 and 1 pm (depending on age).

    Therefore, if the baby slept until 8 am, he simply will not be able to fall asleep in his first daytime sleep.

    In order for the baby to wake up calmly without tears, you can enter a wake-up ritual. It allows the child to smoothly transition from a sleepy state to wakefulness.

    Example of a wake-up ritual:

    • Open curtains/turn on lights
    • Welcome words and a kiss
    • Snacks, nursery rhymes after sleep
    • Happy song

    Then you can get up and start breakfast. For older children, such a ritual is also necessary.

    The awakening ritual has different purposes:

    • Marks the end of sleep,
    • Teaches a child that everyday sounds are not a reason to wake up,
    • Helps prevent baby from crying when waking up.

    It will also be useful to have a light alarm. If the baby wakes up early, he will stay in bed until he sees the light on the clock.

    When to wake your baby up after a nap

    Many babies from 4 to 8 months sleep three times a day.

    In this mode, it is important to wake up the baby after the third nap no later than 17.00. The duration of this segment is about 45 minutes, but not more than an hour. Then you can easily put the baby to bed by 19 o'clock.

    Transition to one nap

    At the age of 15-18 months there is a transition to one nap. It can be long and take place in different ways.

    For example:

    In the morning, the baby falls asleep easily and sleeps up to 2 hours. But then it is difficult to put it in lunch. And by the evening without rest at lunchtime, he is already overworked and falls asleep with difficulty.

    So if this is your case, you can pick up the baby after 60-75 minutes. At the same time, move the start of the second sleep 15 minutes later. But if the baby sleeps for 1 hour in the morning and then it’s already difficult to fall asleep a second time, start putting him down only at lunchtime.

    One nap after 2 years

    Between 2.5-5 years, naps may disappear. Here again, the story described above is often repeated. It seems that the child falls asleep perfectly during the day, sleeps for a long time, but in the evening, laying down is delayed until 10-11 pm. The problem is that getting up early in the morning to the garden usually does not allow you to sleep the necessary 10-11 hours per night. And again, you will have to gradually limit the duration of daytime rest. Wake your baby up after 60 minutes first, then skip the daytime so your baby sleeps better at night.

    Keep an eye on your baby while doing this. If he is calm in the evening and falls asleep easily, and wakes up later than 6 o'clock in the morning in a good mood, then you are doing everything correctly.

    If you notice excessive moodiness in the late afternoon or regular awakenings too early, then it is worth giving the baby more time to rest at lunchtime.

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    Should I wake up my baby to feed

    Some mothers worry that their child does not want to eat at night. We figure out whether it is necessary to wake the baby for feeding at night or for his growth and development, daytime nutrition is enough, as well as how to properly disturb sleep and feed the baby, if necessary. What to give the child, how often and up to what age and how to solve the problem of night awakenings? We will talk about all this with our permanent expert - pediatrician, consultant of the SMART MAMA project Polina Alexandrovna Kizino.

    — Polina Aleksandrovna, why do babies eat at night?

    - Active growth and weight gain in the first months of life, the growing needs of the body for building material and energy costs require a large amount of nutrients. But the baby cannot eat a lot of food at once in order to accumulate it and use the reserves all night. Therefore, the younger the child, the more often he will eat at night. A newborn baby suckles a breast or a bottle day and night at almost the same intervals, but the older he gets, the less often he feeds at night.

    — How to organize the nutrition of a breastfed and formula-fed baby?

    — In this matter, it is extremely important for parents to separate the concepts of food and sleep. A small child does not need to eat during the falling asleep period, he is able to eat between feedings during wakefulness and at night during sleep. These two processes go hand in hand, but they should not be strictly tied to each other. Therefore, it is important to understand how much the baby needs to sleep and what should be the intervals between feedings.

    Sleep and feeding of a child up to a year

    breed breast 9003 time between attachments, because the child may be worried not because of hunger, but for another reason.
  • In the days of a lactation crisis, when there is less milk than the baby needs, it is applied to the breast as often as possible, based on the needs of the child.
  • Milk formula

    • Feeding according to the regime with an interval of at least 3 hours.
    Feed the child on demand or under the regime Wake up the baby for feeding at night
    Night feedings during the newborn period and up to three months
    • Babies need to eat at night, so if they sleep all night without feeding, they wake them up and feed them.

    Night feedings for older children

    • If the child is gaining weight well and rarely asks for food at night - this is the norm, it is not necessary to wake him up.
    • If the weight gain is below the norm and the child does not eat well at night, this is a reason for more active daytime and nighttime feeding.

    How much sleep should a child sleep at night? Age norms change every month, but sleep and nutrition are extremely important. For example, a three-month-old baby sleeps normally 10-12 hours a night. But this does not mean that during this time he does not need to eat. As soon as a hungry baby begins to fiddle and worry, mom should offer him breasts or formula. The child eats and continues to sleep, and the sleep process is not interrupted.

    — How many months should I feed my baby at night and how often?

    — There are different situations. From birth, the intervals between feedings at night are the same as during the day, then the child gradually begins to skip night feedings, the intervals increase, and on average, by the age of one, the baby stops eating at night.

    It is necessary to wake the baby for feedings in the first month, but initially it is worth looking at how long the baby will wake up on its own. For example, if the interval is 2.5-3 hours, and the child wakes up on his own after 3.5 hours, this is acceptable. But the situation when the newborn is sleeping is completely incorrect 9-10 hours and does not receive food all this time.

    - Advise parents who want to adjust their feeding schedule.

    - You can increase the intervals between feedings over time and gradually, and in the first months you need to see how much the baby is gaining weight. If the increase is adequate, then the child needs so much food, perhaps an indulgence. If the increase does not correspond to the desired, then, on the contrary, it will be necessary to supplement the baby more actively. With older children, they are guided by the behavior of the child during the day, his weight and height gains.

    Read also: How to create a feeding regimen and daily ration for a newborn who is breastfed, mixed fed or artificially fed

    — When can a child sleep through the night without feeding?

    — Children are all different. Rare babies begin to sleep at night from the third month. If a child eats his daily allowance during the day and at the same time gains weight normally, there is no need to force-feed him. But there are children who wake up for feeding and a year. The norm at this age is one nightly feeding. By about fourteen or fifteen months, babies stop eating at night, in terms of nutritional needs. After pediatricians do not recommend feeding at night.

    It's not just a matter of refusing a child to eat at night - you should pay attention to his food during the day and assess its sufficiency. At the same time, it is recommended to deal with the sleep regime: when the regime is violated, overwork occurs. Perhaps the child does not know how to prolong sleep on his own, and he needs a breast or a bottle to fall asleep. Then night feedings appear, without which he cannot sleep.

    — Is it better to feed at night: breast milk, infant formula or complementary foods?

    Breastfeeding: give breast or bottle expressed breast milk. Mixed feeding: breast milk if the mother is trying to keep lactating, or bottle formula if the mother is weaning. Formula Feeding: dilute a portion of formula according to age and doctor's recommendations.

    Complementary foods are not suitable for night feeding, because they require spoon feeding. Do not bottle feed your baby anything other than breast milk, adapted formula, or water.

    — How many times should a baby be fed at night?

    — When a child wakes up and asks for food, then they feed him, or on the advice of a doctor. If the child needs additional food, but he does not ask, the mother should still feed him in the amount in which the doctor prescribed it.

    Night feeding rules

    • Night feedings usually accompany sleep and do not require waking up.
    • The more calm conditions (dimmed light, silence) created during feeding, the better.
    • Frequent awakenings at intervals of 40-60 minutes or 1 hour 30 minutes, especially in a child older than four months, usually do not indicate hunger, but an association with falling asleep or prolonging sleep only with breast / bottle sucking.
    • With the exception of periods of lactation crisis, when the child often asks for a breast, nightly intervals between feedings should be the same as during the day, or more. Gradually, the intervals between feedings should be increased.

    — Does the quality of food at dinner affect your night's sleep?

    — Nocturnal awakenings are influenced not so much by the last feeding as by the food of the day as a whole. It is a mistake to believe that if you give your child a huge portion at night, he will sleep better. On the contrary, it is more difficult to fall asleep on a full stomach. And, with the exception of very young children, it would be rational, as the child grows, to increase the interval between the last feeding and going to sleep.

    • A 1-month-old baby will fall asleep on the breast or at the bottle: at this age, the wake time is short and feeding usually causes the baby to fall asleep. The process of eating for him is a big burden, but at the same time, sucking relaxes and calms.
    • After three to four months, you can gradually separate feeding from falling asleep and make longer intervals - starting from 10 minutes, by the year you can reach 1.5-2 hours.

    Being full before bed does not reduce awakenings, so the baby should be fed as usual. At an older age, one of the complementary foods can be given at night: porridge with milk or meat puree with vegetables, but one should not think that they will somehow affect nighttime awakenings if the child ate little during the day.

    - How to wake up a newborn for feeding at night?

    - To feed a baby, it is enough to offer a breast or a bottle and not wake him up - with a maximum probability he will start sucking. There are situations when the child is very lethargic and you need to fill his nutritional needs. In this case, you can “wake up” and use tactile or sound stimuli - take the baby in your arms and change the position of his body, undress him, stroke him, start talking to him quietly so as not to injure or scare him. Any impact should be smooth and progressive until the baby wakes up. But he can suck in a dream.

    If the child gains weight adequately, eats enough during the day, feels well, then the absence of awakenings should not be frightening. The priority is how the child develops: with adequate development, night feedings are not insisted.

    — Let's discuss the problems that parents face during night feedings.

    • The child often wakes up at night and cries

    - Often the child wakes up at night not from hunger, but to calm himself and prolong his sleep, but he does not know how to do this except with a breast or a bottle.

    Parents often underestimate the regime, but it is extremely important, because the violation of the regime significantly affects the functioning of the nervous system. If sleep is not organized, then any irritants are quickly unsettled, the baby can react violently to everything. It is worth paying attention to the rituals that precede going to sleep, associations that accompany falling asleep, living conditions - separate and / or joint sleep. Some babies sleep very restlessly after feeding. There may also be reasons for sleep disturbances.

    • Refusal of night feedings

    — Parents face a problem when they decide to stop night feedings prematurely. Within reason, you need to follow the child, give him the opportunity to regulate his desires. Ideally, you do not need to feed specially or, on the contrary, stop force-feeding the baby, although there are exceptions in case of violations of his health.

    • The baby does not want to eat or eats little and falls asleep

    - The baby sucks sluggishly if he does not like the shape of the nipple, bottle or if it is uncomfortable at the breast and it is difficult to get milk. If the baby falls asleep after a short suck, but he needs to be given a certain portion of milk or formula, then he needs to be woken up and fed. During sleep, it is sometimes easier to feed than during the day.

    If the child wakes up and does not want to eat, but at the same time he adds normally, then you need to deal with other reasons for awakening. In a healthy child look at the organization of sleep, wakefulness and nutrition during the day. Neurological symptoms against the background of sleep disturbance require examination of the baby by a doctor.

    — How to normalize sleep and nutrition in infants?

    — The norms of sleep and feeding are conditional, therefore, first of all, it is necessary to observe the behavior and physiological needs of the child. If he gains weight well, develops adequately without striking deviations from the norm and negative conditions, then there is no point in adhering to strict rules.

    Norms are a guide that allows you to quickly react in a situation where something is wrong with your child. If the baby is very worried, often wakes up at night, gains weight poorly, is naughty during the day, then the norms will help correct his condition. If the child develops well, he is active, stable, there is no reason to adapt to the pattern.

    Every age has its own dietary and sleep norms.

    Learn more