Here’s When You Can Stop Waking Your Baby At Night To Feed
Because now you’re ready to get some good sleep.
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. Physical issues aside, scheduling and timing your breastfeeding sessions can get really confusing, especially at night. Particularly if you have a preemie, or your newborn has had issues with gaining weight, your pediatrician may have advised you to wake them up every few hours for feedings. But, as they get older, and you get more and more exhausted, it’d normal to be wondering when you can stop waking them up for feedings and just let them — and everyone else — get a whole night of glorious sleep. After all, the old adage is “never wake a sleeping baby” so can you go ahead and let that kid sleep through, worry-free?
How to know when it’s OK to let your baby sleep through the night
Breastfeeding parents are generally advised that they can stop waking newborn babies to feed when breastfeeding is going well, their baby is above their birth weight, and there is no jaundice present, explains International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and registered nurse Angie Natero. “This usually happens around two weeks of age,” she adds, with a qualifier that every baby is different.
If your health care provider has advised you to follow a particular feeding and waking schedule, you should wait until they’ve cleared you to stop. But, in general, “all things being equal, once your baby returns to their birth weight, you can stop waking them up,” explains Jennifer Jordan, a breastfeeding expert with Aeroflow.
How often should you wake your baby before they reach their birth weight?
The general guidance that lactation consultants give is 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, IBCLC Tera Hamann tells Romper. 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.
Breastfeeding parents 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 newborn 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 through timed feedings
Both Natero and Jordan emphasize the importance of including your pediatrician or IBCLC when figuring out how much nutrition or milk your baby needs and how often they need it. At your baby’s two-week follow-up visit, your doctor will be able to evaluate your baby’s health and weight, and give you the best advice as to what a good breastfeeding schedule might look like.
Tera Hamann, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
Angie Natero, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and registered nurse
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