Did you wake your newborn up to eat? - Mothering Forums
Life With a Baby > Did you wake your newborn up to eat?
nilatti's Avatar nilatti 07:45 PM 06-30-2012

With my first baby, my midwife strongly encouraged me to wake him every two hours to eat. My best friend did this with her first baby (who, like my son, is an awful sleeper), but with her second, she decided not to. He grew just fine, and is a champion sleeper. He's amazing.


I was just wondering what you did, if anyone had told you to do this, and whether you think it affected your baby's sleep habits. I'm expecting my second in the fall, and am thinking about following my only definitive household rule--never wake a sleeping baby!

Ratchet's Avatar Ratchet 08:27 PM 06-30-2012

Some babies have health/ growth issues that might warrent this.  Otherwise it sounds INSANE.  If your newborn is sleeping within arms reach at night, and held/ carried by you during the day, there should be no reason to have to do this.  I couldn't say if it causes later sleep issues, but no mother of a newborn needs to sleep deprive thmeselves unless the baby's doctor has a good reason to have you do this. 

MeredithA's Avatar MeredithA 08:49 PM 06-30-2012
I woke mine up every 3 hours at night and offered the breast. I did this for the first month and then stopped. He sleeps within arms reach and is with me (usually in a sling) during the day. That first month my midwife recommended that I offer milk every 3 hours and I did. He is 7 weeks old now and sleeps 5 hrs at night, wakes to eat, and then sleeps a couple more hours. The reasonjng was this; Not getting enough fluid can actually cause more fatigue and make it harder for him to eat and get the calories he needs to grow and thrive. I had a sleepy baby so I felt comfortable in my decision to wake and feed.
katelove's Avatar katelove 09:07 PM 06-30-2012
Never with my first and I don't plan to with my second unless there is some clear reason such as a health or growth problem as a PP said. As a midwife I have never recommended it for healthy, full-term, normal weight newborns.
nilatti's Avatar nilatti 05:31 AM 07-01-2012

Yeah, I'm mostly asking because my son was born a few hours past his due date, weighed 6 lbs, 15 oz, and was generally very healthy (a little jaundice, but not more than normal for a home-birth baby). I think my mw was just trying to head off growth issues, but I really felt like I was working very hard to get him to wake up and stay awake (undressing him, blowing in his face, etc.). Maybe he needed sleep more than food...

mamazee's Avatar mamazee 05:58 AM 07-01-2012
One of mine slept through the night through birth, and I certainly never woke her up. I would have if she'd had growth issues, but there were no such problems.
skycheattraffic's Avatar skycheattraffic 08:33 AM 07-01-2012
I woke DD up every three hours at night in the hospital (3 nights) but started to slack off after that. I was told to do so until she regained birthweight, which was done at one week. I EPd in the beginning and we don't cosleep (DH sleep issues) but I respond and nurse her within a minute of waking. She gave me 8 hour stretches for two weeks around 4 months and now she's up every 1 to 3 hours to nurse or pee at 15 months. Lol oh well, i didnt become a mom to get more sleep ;-). We are holding off on number two until she sleeps longer stretches or I know I would be miserable and useless.
fruitfulmomma's Avatar fruitfulmomma 08:44 AM 07-01-2012

maybe once in a while if it seemed they had been going too long without, but not on a regular basis. we never watched a clock with regards to starting feedings or how long they were on each side. they always let me know when they were hungry and they still do. :


and it is totally normal for a newborn to sleep a lot more than they are feeding for the first 24 hours after birth, no need to wake them unless there are specific complications like not latching at all or something. i figure this is a wonderful built-in thing so momma and baby can both recover from their hard work cause they are going to start wanting to eat a lot after that.

rinap's Avatar rinap 09:31 AM 07-01-2012

In cases of jaundice, getting the baby regular feedings can help clear things up (and flush things out), which can remove the necessity for additional intervention. I would consider jaundice a special case, and would guess that that's why the midwife recommended waking the baby for feedings.

ameliabedelia's Avatar ameliabedelia 09:39 AM 07-01-2012

I would not let a newborn go more than 3 hours during the day or 4 hours at night.  That doesn't mean you have to go crazy, watching the clock, but new babies do need to eat frequently and with some babies, they will be so tired, they don't eat enough which makes them more tired, etc.  Plus, going more than 4 hours, can put the mom at risk of mastitis.   I do feel the benefits of frequent feeding are so important.  However, really, most healthy babies will want to eat at least tht frequently all on their own anyway, so waking them up may not even be necessary.

rainface's Avatar rainface 09:51 AM 07-01-2012
I WISH I'd had to wake her up every 3 hours to feed her...she ate every 60 minutes during the day and every 2 hours at night, like clockwork. You could set your watch by that little girl's stomach. Now, at 8 months, I practically have to pin her down to get her to hold still long enough to eat...
PatioGardener's Avatar PatioGardener 10:22 AM 07-01-2012

I didn't at first but then DS lost a lot of weight and was very sleepy, so I woke every 2 hours in the day and 3 at night until he was back to birth weight. He would definitely have become dehydrated if I didn't wake him to feed (and I had to work hard to wake him too!)

ETA: He's 2 now and a great sleeper.

Mommel's Avatar Mommel 09:50 PM 07-01-2012

My DS slept a lot when he was first born and my midwife told me I had to wake him up every 4 hours to nurse him so that my milk would come in... however, since he was about 1 week old when I stopped waking him, he has slept a minimum of 6 hours every night. I know I'm very lucky, but I thought I'd weigh in to say that waking him every 4 hours did not negatively affect his sleep habits...

Quinalla's Avatar Quinalla 11:16 AM 07-03-2012
I didn't need to as she woke way more often than that on her own. Sometimes there is a legitimate medical reason to wake a sleeping newborn especially during the really early days/weeks when some are quite sleepy, otherwise yeah, I'm with the don't wake a sleeping baby crowd. Dream feeds might be a possibility depending on the baby too.

I also don't think that waking a newborn that young would do anything permanent to their sleep habits, some kids just don't like to sleep and/or are very light sleepers. It's a temperament thing.
Nicole730's Avatar Nicole730 12:57 PM 07-03-2012

I never woke up my babies to eat, we always had plenty of pee and poo diapers and my babies never lost birthweight, so no reason to not let them sleep.  That said, my son nursed every 1-2 hours around the clock, while my daughter was every 2-4, with some longer stretches of sleep too.  She is a better sleeper and eater than he is too.  I treated them both the same, nurse on demand and sleep when tired.  Although I did work harder on getting him to take naps.

1stTimeMama4-4-10's Avatar 1stTimeMama4-4-10 11:22 PM 07-05-2012

Nope! My DD never had weight or growth issues though - so we never had a reason to wake her.  Plus, she was SOOOO hard to get down that it would have been really silly to wake her after all that work!  If she ever had weight or growth issues I can see waking her, but otherwise, never. 

sageowl's Avatar sageowl 02:56 PM 07-17-2012

Never, never, never followed that advice.  But my kid was off the chart for height/weight, so I had no compelling reason to worry about his food intake, and we co-slept so I was pretty aware of what he was doing at night.  From birth, he sleep in about 5 hour stretches, and did most of his feeding during the daytime anyway.  Usually only woke up once at night.  When I started working, he did more feeding at night, but it didn't bother me, since by that time, I could nurse him laying down. 

nyssaneala's Avatar nyssaneala 03:31 PM 07-17-2012

I did after my DD's 2nd and 3rd well visits showed that she wasn't gaining weight. I actually had to set an alarm in the middle of the night. It was miserable! If I had to do it all over again, I might have just let things go and let her sleep. She struggled with weight gain her first two years, and is still a small child, but very healthy. She was sleeping 7 hours straight at 2 weeks old, but that all stopped after I began waking her for feedings.


For a LONG time afterwards, she continued waking at night at the exact time I was waking her up to feed as a newborn (even after she stopped BFing at 18 months). It was horrible. And now, as a 4 year old, she still wakes up in the middle of the night every night to come sleep with us. We have a lot of sleep issues, and I wonder if any of it can be contributed to that very first few weeks when we followed the pediatrician's advice and woke her up at night.

smiles2012's Avatar smiles2012 09:51 PM 07-19-2012
I had ths same question because my doc was saying wake her and my friends and family thought I was insane! I woke DD up because I was told by more than one pediatrician that sometimes newborns get sleepy due to low sugar. By waking them to eat, you avoid an episode of hypoglycemia. They always said no more than three to our hours. It may sound weird, but I believed the docs because I had a 2 lb puppy years ago that ended up a the vet ER because of this very issue...an the vet cited like I was sooo neglectful for not feeding every three hours.

I stopped waking her up at 4 weeks ( but she woke up every three to four anyway), and at 8 weeks she went six hours and I stopped waking for sure.
marsupial-mom's Avatar marsupial-mom 07:43 AM 07-20-2012
Yes I woke my son up every 2 hours for the first two months in order to encourage eating and thus growth as well as to prevent SIDS.
Katie8681's Avatar Katie8681 06:12 PM 07-20-2012

Heck no, on the rare occasions my DS went more than 2-3 hours of sleeping at a time at night (did not happen until he was, I _think_, 3 weeks old) I let him lie! He peed and pooped like it was his job, nursed a LOT, and I just never had to really set a schedule. But if he wasn't gaining much, or seemed overly sleepy to me, I would have, reluctantly. I don't think it needs to be strict, routine practice for healthy newborns.