Should I Really Wake My Baby To Feed?

Image by katerha on FlickrMost parenting experts and pediatricians will tell you that a newborn baby needs to eat every two to three hours. In many cases, that means waking the baby up to feed him or her, and for sleep-deprived parents, that can seem like nothing short of a nightmare. Wondering whether you should wake your baby up to feed him? This quick guide can help.

Baby Sleep – Explained

Newborns love to sleep. It’s one of the most important things they do. Some will even start sleeping through the night when they’re just two or three weeks old. Many more, though, end up having their days and nights backward, sleeping quite a bit during the day and not very much at night.

Newborns also need to eat, though. When they’re under two weeks old, they still haven’t managed to regain their birth weight. In fact, they lose almost ten percent of it after their born. Doctors like to see them back up to birth weight by the time they reach two weeks of age, and that means making sure they’re eating every three to four hours. As a result, the advice has always been to wake baby up to eat.

There’s one other reason that many are told to wake their babies. Mothers who plan to breastfeed have to establish an adequate milk supply in those early days, and waking baby up to eat is the key to that milk supply. You have to offer baby the breast every two hours, both day and night, just to make certain he or she is getting the milk necessary and to make sure your milk is producing as well as it should.

A Few Waking Tips

Can’t get your sleepy newborn to wake up? That’s not uncommon. One of the best ways to get baby to wake up is to undress him. Take him down to diaper, and take your shirt off as well. That skin to skin contact can help baby wake up a bit. You may even want to put your sleeping baby in a warm bath. Dimming the lights, as counterintuitive as it may seem, can help as well. A newborn’s eyes are still a bit light sensitive, so if the lights are on, he may not want to wake up.

You can also watch your child’s sleep cycles to make it easier to wake him up. Babies go in and out of both deeper and lighter sleep cycles, and if you catch him at a lighter cycle, you may be a bit more successful. Watch for rapid eye movements, even though his eyes are closed. If you see changes in the facial expressions on your baby, that’s another good sign that he’s lightly sleeping. Additionally, sucking motions with his mouth can mean he’s ready to wake up.

One other way to wake baby up is to rub his back, stroke his scalp, and rub his hands or feet. Applying just a little pressure can help to keep him stimulated enough to come out of sleep and wake up and nurse.

Attached Images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

Heather Nosworth is a writer who adores children and babies. She also regularly contributes to the Baby Gifts & Baskets Blog, featured by, who also sells new baby gift baskets.

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