Should I Wake My Newborn To Feed?
Imagine this: Your newborn baby is sleeping peacefully and seems like you’re about to get some rest. You can’t believe that your little one is still out like a light after a few hours.
Just as you are about to get some rest yourself, you can hear your pediatrician saying, “Remember, newborns need to be fed every two to three hours!”
There’s the dilemma. You might feel super reluctant to wake up your peacefully snoozing baby for a feed, and that makes total sense! Given how many hours they (and you) spend awake each day, it might seem like a horrible idea to wake them out of their slumber for a feed if they aren’t actively crying for it.
So, what do you do? Here at Tabeeze, we're here to be real with you. So, even though it might be the most tiring and taxing answer, we have to say it: Wake that newborn up. They’ve got to eat!
Waking up your baby every few hours to eat ensures that your little one can grow and get the nutrients that they need. Plus, if you’re nursing, breastfeeding or pumping regularly may help prevent engorgement.
Join us as we review why waking up your baby for a midnight snack (or several) is important.
Why Wake Up Your Newborn To Feed?
Getting used to your baby’s eating and sleeping schedule is a totally new experience. Even babies all from the same biological parents might have different preferences, from nursing hold to bottle type to the unique things that make them laugh.
Let’s talk about newborn babies and how to help them grow:
Your Baby’s Belly Works Fast
Because your little one is doing so much hard work growing, their metabolism seems to have super speed! If you thought teenage boys could clear out your fridge, just wait to see how a baby will wipe out your carefully-curated breast milk or formula supply.
Your tiny eating machine digests food swiftly and efficiently in the early days. Their speedy digestion, paired with the fact that their tummy is still tiny at their age, means that more frequent feedings are critical.
Not only are they quick digesters, but they are also emptying their bellies very easily. This means that your baby has a physiological need to feed every two to three hours, especially within that two-week period right after birth.
The exception here is if your baby is formula-fed (which is a solid option, too). Formula babies’ needs might be a bit different because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk. Formula babies may go three to four hours between feedings but always check with your doctor.
They Might Sleep Through Their Hunger
You probably know the warning signs by now. When you have a hungry baby on your hands, they might cry, suck on their fingers, coo for your attention, smack their lips, or grab at your chest. When they are awake and hangry, they will likely let you know.
However, if you have a particularly sleepy baby on your hands, they may sleep through their “hungry!” internal alarm clock completely. We know it’s not ideal, but you will want to wake your baby up to feed them.
Weight Gain Is Important
If your baby isn’t getting enough to eat, it can slow down their ability to gain that essential new baby weight. Since they are no longer attached to a constant supply of nutrients like they were in your belly, your baby may lose a bit of their body weight in the first couple of days or weeks after birth.
The goal, of course, is for them to gain that weight back. That’s another reason that consistent feeding times are necessary, even if it’s interrupting everyone’s sleep schedules.
Boost Your Milk Supply
If you are a parent who is breastfeeding, you know how important it is to keep your milk production up.
Not feeding your newborn enough can inadvertently slow down your milk production. In the newborn stages, your body is adjusting just like your baby is adjusting to their feeding schedule.
You can help regulate your milk production by establishing a consistent eating schedule, even if it happens to be when your baby is dozing. Once milk production stalls, it can sometimes be tricky to ramp up that internal supply chain again; consistency can help.
How Should I Wake My Baby?
We’ve got some tips for gently rousing your newborn for a feed if they’ve been snoozing away.
Feed Them When They’re Half-Asleep
If your baby is asleep but a bit squirmy and has fluttering eyelids or facial features, they are most likely what we call “actively asleep.” Feeding in this stage, if you can, may help your baby to both feed and not fully wake up.
This phenomenon is sometimes called “dream feeding.” Parents should keep a watchful eye on their babe; not all babies fall asleep when they’re full. Your baby might nod off at the breast if they struggle to nurse or are super sleepy.
Unfortunately, logging the time your baby spends nursing isn’t an adequate way to measure if they’re eating enough. Instead, observe your baby’s facial expressions, including eye focus as well as the fullness of the breast, for clues.
Keep Sessions Fuss-Free
When we’re crying and agitated, we likely won't feel like eating a big meal — the same can be said for our babies.
Unfortunately, one of the things that babies don’t really look forward to is getting dressed. It’s difficult to shimmy their onesies over their large heads and snap everything in place. As parents, we were kind of over that. So we invented the Tabeeze Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit.
The Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit makes dressing and undressing a snap (literally). The fumble-free and nickel-free buttons close at the shoulder. Simply slide the onesie up feet first and close the snaps.
A happier baby is a hungrier baby.
Hold Your Baby Upright
As simple as it seems, picking up your baby while they are asleep and holding them upright can promote an easy wake-up. Babies will usually feel prompted to open their eyes and become attentive in this position.
Change a Diaper Before Feeding
If your little one needs a diaper change anyway, do this before feeding them. A diaper change may help wake them up, and at the very least, a dirty diaper won’t ruin their lunch plans.
Diaper blowout? No problem. Tabezee planned for that too. Our patented design means there’s no need to pull a onesie over your baby’s head, making cleaning up a diaper blowup as pleasant as possible (if that’s at all possible).
Give Your Baby a Gentle Squeeze
Touching your baby gently in areas like their shoulders, belly, or legs can help you wake them up to feed. Gentle is the keyword here — no one likes surprises, including babies.
Late Night Snack Attacks
So, in conclusion, yes — you should wake your baby up for feedings.
However, it doesn’t need to be as tricky as it sounds! Here at Tabeeze, we believe parenting should be as simple as possible so that you and your baby can be happy and healthy together.
We hope these tips give you some gentle ways to feed your little one and coax them awake so that you can see them grow big and strong in no time.
How to Increase Breast Milk: Home Remedies, Diet, Supplements | Healthline
Typical Sleep Behaviour (1) – Newborns 0 to 3 Months | Better Health Channel
Your Newborn's Growth (for Parents) | Nemours KidsHealth
Breast Engorgement | Government of Alberta
What To Do If Your Baby Falls Asleep While Breastfeeding | Today's Parent