When can you stop waking baby at night to feed
When Can You Stop Waking A Baby Up At Night To Breastfeed? Experts Weigh In
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Because now you’re ready to get some good sleep.
by Mishal Ali Zafar and Abi Berwager Schreier
Whether this is your first time breastfeeding, or you consider yourself a seasoned pro, there will always be some point in time where you’ll find yourself asking questions. Boob issues aside, scheduling and timing your nursing sessions can get really confusing, especially at night. When your baby was just born, you may have had to disrupt their slumber to feed them, but as they get older, do you still have to wake them? The old adage is “never wake a sleeping baby” and honestly, you need some sleep, too.
There Are A Few Factors To Consider When Letting Your Baby Sleep Through The Night
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and registered nurse Angie Natero tells Romper that she advises moms to stop waking their babies to feed when they are about two weeks of age, but only if breastfeeding is going well, their baby is above their birth weight, and there is no jaundice present.
Natero says that there are some reasons that would require you to continue waking your baby to feed at night. “Of course there might be a few exceptions to this rule,” she says, “or special circumstances such as a low birth weight or prematurity among other things, so it's important that mom takes specific advice about her unique baby from her trusted IBCLC and pediatrician.”
Kidshealth.org reports that it is normal for breastfed newborns to lose about 7 to 10% of their body weight within the first week of life. However, the website noted that “during their first month, most newborns gain weight at a rate of about 1 ounce (30 grams) per day. ” Jennifer Jordan, director of Mom and Baby at Aeroflow Healthcare, tells Romper that most babies will return to their birth weight by 10 to 14 days after birth, so when waking your baby to feed at night, Jordan explains that it's more about their weight, and less about their age.
“All things being equal,” adds Jordan, “once your baby returns to their birth weight, you can stop waking them up.”Tatyana Tomsickova Photography/Moment/Getty Images
How Often Should You Wake Your Baby Before They Reach Their Birth Weight?
IBCLC Tera Hamann tells Romper that until your baby reaches the two-week mark, you should wake them at least every three hours to breastfeed until they reach their birth weight. After that, she says you can allow them to sleep as long as they are getting eight to 12 feedings in a day. “It’s always a good idea to keep track of feedings and diapers in the first few weeks while your baby is establishing what will be their normal growth curve,” Hamann says. She adds that as a generalization, reaching birth weight is the milestone for letting your baby sleep longer.
Natero explains that breastfeeding moms should know that it's very common and normal for babies to wake up at night to nurse, especially in the first few months, so if your baby does wake up, it’s important to feed them. “Moms should feed their baby on demand with cues,” suggests Natero, “to assure that their baby’s needs are met, and to establish and maintain her milk supply.”
Talk To Your Pediatrician Before Letting Your Baby Sleep Without Waking Them To Feed
Both Natero and Jordan emphasize the importance of including your pediatrician or IBCLC when figuring out how much nutrition or milk your baby needs. Jordan says that at your baby’s two-week follow-up visit, if your baby has returned to birth weight, you can ask your pediatrician if it is OK to let them sleep through the night. Your doctor will be able to evaluate your baby’s health and weight, and give you the best advice as to what your breastfeeding schedule should look like.
As you continue breastfeeding, you’ll realize how many questions can arise, so it’s a good idea to find an IBCLC who can give you guidance and support. And you won't have to worry about waking your baby up at night for much longer, because as they get older, healthier, and stronger, they will probably start waking you up at night to feed.
Angie Natero, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and registered nurse
Jennifer Jordan, director of Mom and Baby at Aeroflow Healthcare
Tera Hamann, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
This article was originally published on
Sleep and Your Newborn (for Parents)
Newborns don't yet have a sense of day and night. They sleep around the clock, and because their tiny stomachs don't hold enough breast milk or formula to keep them satisfied for long, they wake often to eat — no matter what time of day or night it is.
How Long Will My Newborn Sleep?
Newborns should get 14–17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, says the National Sleep Foundation. Some newborns may sleep up to 18–19 hours a day.
Newborns wake every couple of hours to eat. Breastfed babies feed often, about every 2–3 hours. Bottle-fed babies tend to feed less often, about every 3–4 hours.
Newborns who sleep for longer stretches should be awakened to feed. Wake your baby every 3–4 hours to eat until he or she shows good weight gain, which usually happens within the first couple of weeks. After that, it's OK to let your baby sleep for longer periods of time at night.
The first months of a baby's life can be the hardest for parents, who might get up many times at night to tend to the baby. Each baby has a different sleep pattern. Some start to sleep "through the night" (for 5–6 hours at a time) by 2–3 months of age, but some don't.
How Should Babies Sleep?
During the first weeks of a baby's life, some parents choose to room-share. Room-sharing is when you place your baby's crib, portable crib, play yard, or bassinet in your own bedroom instead of in a separate nursery. This keeps baby nearby and helps with feeding, comforting, and monitoring at night. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing.
While room-sharing is safe, putting your infant to sleep in bed with you is not. Bed-sharing increases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and other sleep-related deaths.
Follow these recommendations for a safe sleep environment for your little one:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep, not on the stomach or side. The rate of SIDS has gone way down since the AAP began recommending this in 1992.
- Use a firm, flat sleep surface. Cover the mattress with a sheet that fits snugly.
- Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, unfitted sheets, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and bumper pads out of your baby's sleep area.
- To avoid overheating, dress your baby for the room temperature and don't overbundle. Don't cover your baby's head while they're sleeping. Watch for signs of overheating, such as sweating or feeling hot to the touch.
- Keep your baby away from smokers. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS.
- Offer a pacifier to your baby at sleep time, but don’t force it. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, you don’t have to replace it. If you're breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is firmly established.
- Watch out for other hazards, such as items with cords, ties, or ribbons that can wrap around a baby's neck, and objects with any kind of sharp edge or corner. Look around for things that your baby can touch from a seated or standing position in the crib. Hanging mobiles, wall hangings, pictures, draperies, and window blind cords could be harmful if they are within a baby's reach.
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep on a product that isn’t specifically designed for sleeping babies, such as a sitting device (like a car seat), a feeding pillow (like the Boppy pillow), or an infant lounger (like the Dock-a-Tot, Podster, and Bummzie).
- Don’t use products or devices that claim to lower the risk of SIDS, such as sleep positioners (like wedges or incliners) or monitors that can detect a baby’s heart rate and breathing pattern. No known products can actually do this.
- Don’t use weighted blankets, sleepers, or swaddles on or around your baby.
- Make sure that all sleep surfaces and products you use to help your baby sleep have been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and meet federal safety standards.
Helping Your Newborn Sleep
Newborns follow their own schedule. Over the next couple of weeks to months, you and your baby will begin to settle into a routine.
It may take a few weeks for your baby's brain to know the difference between night and day. Unfortunately, there are no tricks to speed this up, but it helps to keep things quiet and calm during middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes. Try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play with or talk to your baby. This will send the message that nighttime is for sleeping. If possible, let your baby fall asleep in the crib at night so your little one learns that it's the place for sleep.
Don't try to keep your baby up during the day in the hopes that your little one will sleep better at night. Overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping at night than those who've had enough sleep during the day.
If your newborn is fussy it's OK to rock, cuddle, and sing as your baby settles down. Swaddling (wrapping the baby in a light blanket) can also help to soothe a crying baby. If you swaddle your baby and they start trying to roll over, that is a sign that you can stop swaddling. For the first months of your baby's life, "spoiling" is definitely not a problem. In fact, newborns who are held or carried during the day tend to have less colic and fussiness.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
While most parents can expect their newborn to sleep or catnap a lot during the day, the range of what is normal is quite wide. If you have questions about your baby's sleep, talk with your doctor.
Should I feed my baby at night?
Restful sleep and nutrition
Each child has his own individual rhythm of sleep and nutrition, as well as individual need for them. Just in newborns in the first weeks of life, the ability to distinguish between day and night has not yet been developed. The child is simply not used to going without food for a long time. Indeed, in the womb, he could satisfy hunger at any time of the day or night. Therefore, at least in the first weeks, he will certainly wake you up at night for feeding. nine0003
If you are formula feeding your baby, unload yourself and take turns with your partner for nightly feedings. It is also possible if you express milk in the evening and store it in the refrigerator (from +4°C to +6°C, closed for no more than 2 days).
After three months, the baby can go without food for longer, so he has a longer nighttime sleep than daytime. Starting at about 6 months old, babies no longer need to feed at night, because at this age the rhythm of hunger and satiety in a healthy child stops at daytime. nine0003
Before going to bed - milk porridge
Milk dessert with biscuits
Milk porridge at night is more satisfying than milk food. HiPP milk porridges are available both in instant form for easy dilution with water, and in ready-made form, for example, our Good Night milk desserts. You can give milk to your baby first from a bottle and later from a cup. It goes without saying that with the introduction of complementary foods, the child should get used to the spoon, and his diet should contain a sufficient amount of solid food. nine0003
Weaning from night feeding
Night feeding can become a habit that your baby will only reluctantly say goodbye to. If your baby keeps waking up during the night, try offering unsweetened tea or boiled water, but don't feed him. Night feeding even interferes with uninterrupted sleep and can damage the first teeth of the child, since after a nightly meal, the child's teeth, as a rule, are no longer cleaned. Of course, it will take some time to wean your baby from night feedings, but in the end you will definitely reach the goal! nine0003
Learn more: Tips
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Up to what age to feed the baby at night and how to replace formula
Baby formula is only a forced measure to replace mother's milk in the absence of sufficient lactation or underweight in the baby. In all other respects, the infant formula feeding algorithm remains the same as with breastfeeding. The baby also needs nightly feedings about every 3-4 hours. This is due to scientifically proven facts. Babies up to a year old have an accelerated metabolism, food is digested faster, and naturally, they experience hunger at night. Also, any anxiety of the baby at night forces him to demand his mother's participation, and of course - food as a sedative. There is even a theory that children are genetically woken up to eat to avoid "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" in their sleep. nine0003
But also can't it continue indefinitely? The child grows, develops actively, from the age of 6 months receives a variety of complementary foods, and over time should form a normal daily routine. And for this you need to figure out: how to wean a child at night to eat the mixture in the most gentle ways.
Up to what age to give formula at night
Experts differ on this issue, but the average age when you can do without night feedings is nevertheless derived. Infants with normal development can sleep peacefully at night without formula 10-12 hours from 9-12 months. Of course, if parents do not consider it necessary to restrict their child in nutrition, they can safely continue to feed their child at night and beyond. But they must be aware that, firstly, over time, these periods of eating become just a habit for the baby. And secondly, mothers should also think about their own well-being after sleepless nights. So, the approximate age of weaning a child from night feedings has been determined, it remains to find out how to replace the mixture for the night after a year for the first time of the transition to a new regimen. nine0003
Night formula alternative
Formula feeding formula is extremely nutritious and delicious food for your baby. Therefore, the nightly replacement should be unequal, so that the baby subsequently feels that he does not need to wake up for such food. For these reasons, many mothers, thinking about how to replace the mixture for the night, use not the best products.