To Wake or Not to Wake: When to Wake Newborns for Feeding?

To Wake or Not to Wake: When to Wake Newborns for Feeding?

As a new parent, you may wonder if you should wake your newborn to feed or let them sleep. While it’s tempting to let your little one snooze for longer, regular feeding is crucial for their growth and development. Skipping feedings can lead to dehydration and poor weight gain, which can have long-term effects on your baby’s health.

Knowing when to wake your newborn for feedings is essential, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. According to pediatricians, if your baby is younger than 3 months old and hasn’t been feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock, it’s generally recommended that you wake them up for a feeding. This will help ensure they get the nutrients they need during this critical development period.

The Risks of Not Waking a Newborn to Feed:

Dehydration can cause serious health problems in newborns.

Newborns must eat frequently, and dehydration can occur quickly if they are not fed often enough.

This is especially true for premature babies, who may struggle to regulate their body temperature and fluid balance.

Dehydration can lead to various health problems, including lethargy, sunken eyes, dry mouth and skin, low urine output, and even seizures or shock. In severe cases, it can be life-threatening.

Poor weight gain can lead to developmental delays.

Newborns need to gain weight rapidly in the first few weeks of life – typically around 1 ounce per day.

Suppose they are not waking up regularly or getting enough milk during each feeding session.

In that case, they may struggle to gain weight at the necessary rate. This can result in developmental delays, such as delayed motor skills or cognitive development.

Parents need to closely monitor their baby’s weight gain and seek medical advice if they have concerns.

Ignoring hunger cues can affect milk supply and breastfeeding success.

Breastfeeding is an important way for newborns to get the nutrients they need in the early weeks of life.

However, it’s also a delicate process that requires regular stimulation of milk production through frequent feedings.

Suppose a baby is not waking up often enough to feed or is not feeding effectively when awake (e.g., due to tongue tie or other issues).

In that case, this can reduce milk supply over time and make breastfeeding more difficult overall.

Ignoring hunger cues from your baby could result in fussiness or crying, making it harder for you and your baby to relax during feeding times.

When to Wake Your Newborn for Feeding:

Daytime feedings should occur every 2-3 hours.

Newborns have tiny stomachs and need frequent feedings, especially during the first few weeks of life.

During the day, it’s recommended to wake your newborn every 2-3 hours for a feeding. This will ensure they get enough nutrition and help establish a healthy feeding schedule.

Naps longer than 4 hours should be avoided during the day.

While your newborn needs plenty of rest, naps longer than four hours during the day can interfere with their feeding schedule.

If your baby sleeps too long during the day, you may need to wake them up to ensure they’re eating often enough.

Premature or low birth weight babies may need more frequent feedings.

Premature or low birth weight babies may require more frequent feedings than full-term infants.

These babies may not have developed the ability to suck and swallow effectively yet, making it challenging to get enough milk in one feeding.

If you have concerns about your baby’s weight gain or feeding habits, talk to your pediatrician about whether more frequent feedings are necessary.

Keeping Your Newborn Awake During Feedings:

Why Staying Awake During Feedings is Important

One of the most common questions new parents ask is whether they should wake their newborn to feed.

The answer is yes, especially during the first few weeks of life when your baby needs to eat frequently.

Staying awake during feedings helps ensure adequate nutrition and promotes healthy growth and development.

Tips for Keeping Your Baby Awake During Feedings

  1. Burping Your Baby: It can help keep them alert during feedings. Babies swallowing air while feeding can make them feel full and sleepy. By burping your baby regularly, you can release any trapped air and keep them awake and engaged.
  2. Changing Diapers Before Feeding: Diapers can also help keep your baby awake. A wet or dirty diaper can be uncomfortable for your baby, making it difficult for them to focus on eating. By changing their diaper beforehand, you’ll remove any distractions that might interfere with their feeding.
  3. Stimulating Your Baby: If your baby seems tired during feeding, try stimulating them by gently stroking their cheek or tickling their feet. You could also talk to them or sing a song to help keep them alert.

Scheduling: Waking Your Newborn Up for Work Hours and Naps:

Wake your baby up at regular intervals during work hours if needed.

Newborns need to eat every two to three hours, so it’s important to wake them up during the day for feedings.

However, if your baby sleeps soundly, you can let them sleep a little longer, but not more than four hours.

If you’re concerned about your baby getting enough milk or gaining weight, waking them up for feeding is crucial.

Avoid waking your baby from a deep sleep during naps unless necessary.

Naps are essential for newborns as they help with their growth and development. It’s best only to disturb their nap time if it’s necessary.

If you need to wake your newborn from a nap, try gradually talking softly or gently touching them instead of abruptly waking them up.

This way, they won’t be startled and will have an easier time transitioning back into being awake.

Consistency in scheduling is key to establishing healthy habits.

Establishing a consistent schedule for feeding and napping is vital in helping your newborn develop healthy habits.

Try to stick to the same routine every day so that your baby knows what to expect. This consistency can also help regulate their sleep patterns and make bedtime easier later on.

In addition to feeding and napping schedules, there are other factors you should consider when scheduling your newborn’s day:

  • Diaper changes: Newborns need frequent diaper changes throughout the day and night.
  • Awake time: While newborns sleep most of the time, they also need some awake time during the day.
  • Bedtime: Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can help signal your baby that it’s time for sleep.
  • Work hours: If you’re returning to work after having a baby, make sure you have a plan in place for childcare that aligns with your baby’s schedule.

Overnight Feedings: Balancing Sleep and Nutrition:

Initial Feeding Patterns

One of the most common questions new parents ask is whether they should wake their newborns for overnight feedings.

The answer is yes, initially. Newborns need to eat frequently, as often as every two to three hours, to meet their nutritional needs and gain weight.

Monitoring your baby’s diaper output is essential to determine if they get enough milk or formula during these frequent feedings.

Wet diapers are a good sign that your baby is getting enough fluids. In contrast, infrequent or dry diapers may indicate that you need to increase the frequency of feedings.


Many parents choose co-sleeping as a way to make nighttime feeding easier. This practice involves having your baby sleep in the same room as you, either in a separate crib or bed.

Co-sleeping can be beneficial for both parent and child. It allows for easy access during nighttime feedings without getting out of bed and walking across the house.

Studies have shown that co-sleeping can help regulate a baby’s breathing patterns and promote bonding between parent and child.

However, it’s important to note that co-sleeping does come with some risks. Parents should always follow safe sleep guidelines when sharing a bed with their infant, such as placing the baby on their back on a firm surface with no loose bedding or pillows nearby.

Late Hunger Cues

As your baby grows older and gains weight milestones, they may not need to be fed as frequently during the night. Some babies may even begin sleeping through the night without needing nighttime feeds.

However, it’s essential not to ignore hunger cues if they arise during the night. Even if your baby has been sleeping longer stretches at night, they may require additional feeds due to growth spurts or increased activity levels during the day.

Formula vs. Nighttime Feedings: To Wake or Not to Wake Your Newborn?

As a new parent, one of the most common questions you may have is whether or not you should wake your newborn for nighttime feedings.

While there’s no straightforward answer, several factors can help determine whether waking your baby at night is necessary.

Age, weight, health status, and other factors determine if you should wake your newborn at night.

Newborns need frequent feedings to get enough nutrients to grow and develop correctly. However, as babies age and gain weight, their feeding needs change. For instance:

  • In the first few weeks of life, babies may need to feed every two to three hours around the clock.
  • After about a month or so, some babies can go longer between feedings at night (up to four hours).
  • By three months old, many babies can sleep longer without feeding.

However, it’s essential to note that each baby is unique and may have different feeding requirements based on age, weight, health status, and other factors. Therefore, working with your pediatrician is crucial to determine what’s best for your child.

Babies gaining weight well may not need overnight feeds after a certain age.

Suppose your baby is gaining weight and meeting their developmental milestones appropriately. In that case, they may not need overnight feeds after a certain age. In some cases:

  • Breastfed babies tend to require more frequent nighttime feedings than formula-fed infants.
  • Some breastfed babies may still need overnight feeds even when they’re older since breast milk gets digested faster than formula.

However, suppose your doctor determines that your baby has reached an appropriate weight for their age and doesn’t require overnight feeds anymore. In that case, it might be time to stop waking them up in the middle of the night.

Making the Right Choice for You and Your Newborn’s Needs:

In conclusion, waking your newborn to feed is crucial for their growth and development. Not doing so can lead to various health risks, including dehydration and insufficient weight gain.

Knowing when to wake your newborn for feeding and keeping them awake during feedings is also essential.

Scheduling feedings around work hours and naps can help establish a routine while ensuring they receive proper nutrition throughout the day and night.

It’s essential to find a balance between sleep and nutrition. While waking your newborn may disrupt their sleep patterns, ensuring they are getting enough milk or formula is necessary.

Ultimately, whether or not to wake your newborn for nighttime feedings should be based on their individual needs.

Remember that every baby is unique, so what works for one may not work for another. It’s essential to pay attention to your newborn’s cues and adjust accordingly.

Trusting your instincts as a parent is crucial in making informed decisions about your child’s care.


Should I wake my newborn up at night?

It depends on their individual needs. If they are not gaining enough weight or seem hungry at night, waking them up for feeding may be necessary.

How often should I wake my newborn up during the day?

Newborns should eat every two to three hours during the day, so you may need to wake them up if they haven’t eaten within that timeframe.

What if my baby falls asleep during feeding?

Try different techniques, such as changing their diaper or tickling their feet gently to keep them awake during feeding.

Can I let my baby sleep through the night without feeding?

Most babies will need at least one feeding during the night until they reach a certain weight or age determined by their pediatrician.

Is it okay to let my baby wake up on their own for feeding?

Establishing a routine for feedings is essential, so waking them up at regular intervals during the day can help ensure they are getting enough nutrition. However, if your baby is gaining weight and seems content, you may not need to wake them up for feedings.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top