Should I Wake Up My Baby To Feed Them?

Should I Wake Up My Baby To Feed Them?

Last update: 28 January, 2018

While we are adapting to our newborn’s routines, everything is easier. However, we may face many doubts in the first few days, such as: How and when should I feed them? Should I wake up my baby to feed them?

Breastfeeding is necessary and beneficial for babies until at least six months of age. Even when your newborn communicates their hunger to you, you still may worry about how much they should consume.

Sometimes we might believe that if they’re asleep they can go for a while without food. Other times we may worry that their time to nurse has passed while they are sleeping.

In case you didn’t know, babies know better than we do how much milk they need and when they need it. Your baby’s nutrition during the first stage of their life can be subject only to their needs.

We will produce the amount of milk that our baby needs, and they will drink as much as they want. During their first few months of life, it is not necessary to wake them up to feed them.

However, in some special cases, it may be necessary to wake  them up. If this is true for you, your doctor will let you know.

For example, if your baby is premature, is not completely healthy, is losing weight, or is not gaining enough weight, it may be necessary to feed them more frequently. In those cases, if your baby is sleeping too much, you may have to wake them up to feed them.

Feeding on demand

It is normal for you to experience doubts when it has been a while since your baby has nursed. This happens especially when we feed our child every four hours.

If this amount of time has passed and they are still sleeping, we may feel that we need to wake them. It is also normal that we worry if there is a change in schedule.

should you wake up your baby to feed them?

However, some mothers opt to feed on demand. Feeding your child on demand means feeding them when they show hunger. This means feeding them no matter how long it has been since their last feeding.

By feeding on demand, it will not be necessary to wake your baby for another feeding.

Many specialists recommend feeding on demand when your child is able to identify when they are hungry and cries to let you know.

While we are breastfeeding on demand, the child will let you know when it is time to eat. If they are asleep, they will wake up on their own to nurse; your little one will eat whenever they are hungry, so their needs will always be met.

They will look for your breast, cry, and suck to indicate that they want to eat. It is important that the mother nurses her baby even if it has only been a little while since their last feeding.

In the beginning, perhaps we are uncertain about many things. Once a breastfeeding schedule has been established, your child will wake you in due time.

When is it necessary to wake my baby to feed them?

If your baby is healthy, you will not need to wake them to nurse. However, in certain cases you will have to feed them including while they are sleeping.

In the following circumstances it will be necessary to wake your baby to eat:

  • If your baby needs to gain weight, is losing weight, or has been asleep for many hours without eating
  • If your baby has not adapted to a breastfeeding schedule. This generally happens within the first few days of birth.
  • If your baby is premature or sick
adapting to a breastfeeding schedule

Except in certain circumstances, we advise you to always wake your baby as gently as possible. Having them nearby, for example in a baby wearer or baby carrier, will allow you to offer your breast without having to wake them brusquely.

The key is to try not to wake them from a deep sleep but to take advantage of their movements.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Lactancia a demanda. Recomendaciones. Comité de Lactancia Materna de la Asociación Española de Pediatría. 2013. [Documento en línea].
  • Ortega-Ramírez ME. Recomendaciones para una lactancia materna exitosa. Acta Pediatr Mex 2015; 36: 126-129.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.