Should I Wake My Sleeping Newborn to Feed?

6 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Should I Wake My Sleeping Newborn to Feed?

The dilemma of waking your newborn baby to feed is a very real one, especially for new mommies. Never wake up your babies while sleeping; obvious advice is given to young mothers. After all, a tiny one looks calm and peaceful while sleeping. But if your baby is sleeping for a long stretch, it is vital to wake them up and feed them to keep their tummy full. So, when do you need to wake your newborn to feed?

It is often advised to wake up your newborn after every 3-4 hours to feed or unless they start gaining healthy weight. Waking up your little one is best for them. Babies still do not understand hunger but have very tiny stomachs and need feeding constantly. Here we will cover the details about the right time to wake your babies to feed, how long you can let them sleep without eating, and the right time to feed them. So, let’s dive in.

In This Article

Should I Wake up my Newborn Baby to Feed?

Yes, you must wake your newborn baby once every 2 to 3 hours to feed. This is a standard guideline suggested by pediatricians too. Newborns sleep for most of the day and night as well. It is difficult for them to understand and realize their hunger when they are this young. Additionally, when asleep they may not be able to wake up when they are hungry.

Babies’ stomachs are tiny, and babies are growing fast. The small amount of milk they drink gets digested quite quickly. If you wait until they cry out of hunger, it may be too late and sometimes there may be a danger of their blood sugar levels falling too. So, it is essential to wake your baby regularly and feed them, even at nights.

Top 3 Reasons to Wake Up Newborns For Feedings

Newborn babies grow very fast; they look like tiny eating machines. Their little stomach cannot remain full for longer. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waking your babies if they sleep for long hours or more than 5-6 hours.

Here are a few more reasons to wake your babies when they are sleeping peacefully to schedule their feed.

1. Babies Tummy Get Empty Easily

Newborn babies digest milk speedily. They have tiny stomachs which can allow them to have only some milk at a time. Hence, because of speedy digestion, babies may feel hungry too often. This means babies do have the urge to feed after every 2-3 hours. Hence, waking them up while sleeping can help to feed them properly.

2. Babies Need Weight Gain

Newborn babies have to grow with an ideal weight. But infrequent feeds and keeping their stomach empty for longer leads to a slower weight gain. That’s why you need to schedule their feeding and wake them up for feeding if they are sleeping for a longer time.

[Read : Your Newborn’s Weight – What is Normal?]

3. To Boost Milk Supply

Gaps in feeding can often slow down the production of milk. You need to feed your baby timely to boost the milk supply.

How Should You Wake a Newborn to Feed?

ways to Wake a Newborn to Feed?

Newborn babies sleep tightly. So, it is not easy for you to wake them. However, here are some quick tips that help to alert your baby enough to get the feed.

1. Use a Cool Washcloth Around Your Body and Face

The refreshing cooling effect of the washcloth gives your baby a wake-up call. Young mothers may feel a little guilty doing so, but it is vital to feed them.

2. Undress Your Baby Down to the Diaper

The cooling effect of air is also enough to wake up your babies and feed them. Therefore, you can undress them and once they start taking feed, put a warm blanket around them.

3. Rub Your Nipples Around the Baby’s Mouth

Rubbing nipples around the baby’s mouth alerts them to take the feed. You can also try to put some milk around their lips so they can consume it and get alert to take feed.

4. Change the Sleeping Position of the Baby if They Nod-Off

If your baby starts falling asleep, take a pause and change their position and then try to feed them again.

5. Wake Up Babies When They Sleep Lightly

Observe if your little one’s eyes are fluttering. This would be the perfect time for a wake-up call and feed them.

How Long Should You Feed Your Newborn at Night?

Once you have woken up your baby, be sure your baby nurses properly or at least empties one of your breasts. This helps to ensure that your tiny one is full now and can sleep peacefully. Some babies may take more than 20 minutes to empty one breast at night. On the other hand, some only take 10 minutes. So, ensure to feed at least 15-20 minutes at night.

How to Keep a Newborn Awake During Breastfeeding?

How to Keep a Newborn Awake During Breastfeeding?

Make sure the baby doesn’t fall asleep in the middle of feeding because sucking is a guaranteed sleep inducer. To tell if the baby is still obtaining milk, listen for the repetitive suck-swallow-breath pattern in his face, jaw, and ear.

If your baby does fall asleep, try reawakening them by shifting them, burping, dripping milk on the lips, or perhaps even wobbling your breast or the bottles in their mouth to get them to start eating again.

You can be confident that by week six, the two of you will have established a regular feeding and sleeping cycle, but the specifics will again depend totally on your baby’s specific requirements. While some infants will insist on nursing every two hours on the dot, others can contentedly spend three to four hours without a feeding. Babies on formula may have different eating and sleeping routines.

What To Do If My Baby Doesn’t Wake Up to Feed?

mom trying to wake a sleeping baby

Some babies arouse themselves to get the feed. But some babies may feel sleepy between feeding times. If your newborn baby doesn’t wake up to get the feed, try to wake them up forcefully. Talk with your baby or start singing songs louder to wake them up. Undress them completely and then wait for a while. If your baby is still not aroused, go to the pediatrician for consultation.

When Can You Stop Waking Your Baby For Feedings at Night?

Once your baby turns 6 months old, it can sleep for longer hours without feeding. At this stage, their stomach is bigger, so once they get to feed and gain enough weight, babies can easily sleep the whole night. By this time, you can stop waking your babies for feeding at night.

The early days of newborn babies are very crucial for their growth. We know that mothers are already feeling exhausted with round-the-clock nursing. But it is essential for the ideal growth of babies. Therefore, be sure to feed them timely even if they are sleeping for a long call by waking them up. If you are having trouble waking your babies or your baby is resisting taking feed, consult with the pediatrician for expert advice.

[Read : When Do Babies Sleep Through the Night Without Feeding?]


1. How Do I Know if the Baby is Hungry While Sleeping?

Babies start making faces, cooing, start moving their heads, and putting fingers in their mouths. These are some signs which show your baby is feeling hungry while sleeping.

2. How Do I Know if The Baby is Still Hungry After Feeding?

Babies may often open their mouths even if they are done with breastfeeding. They may look towards you or search for the breast to get the feed.

3. When to Seek a Pediatrician’s Help When Trying to Wake Your Baby For Feed?

If your newborn baby is not waking up after forceful arousing or not showing interest in feeding, you will need to visit a pediatrician for immediate medical help as this may signal some serious underlying problem.

Read Also: How Much do Newborns Eat in First Few Days?

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

Responses (0)

Please check a captcha

Want curated content sharply tailored for your exact stage of parenting?

Discover great local businesses around you for your kids.

Get regular updates, great recommendations and other right stuff at the right time.


Our site uses cookies to make your experience on this site even better. We hope you think that is sweet.