To Wake or Not to Wake

Vulnerable Moms

New moms suffer all kinds of insecurities, no matter how many books they read on the subjects of mothering and infant care. Mothers are vulnerable enough what with their fluctuating postpartum hormones and the physical demands of birthing and mothering.  They need good answers to their questions, fast, to stave off emotional imbalance. That's why the good experts at have done their best to address any and all concerns that new moms (and dads) may have.

One question which may or may not come up relates to the conundrum of a newborn baby who sleeps through feedings. A mom has to wonder: Should I wake him up or wait until he fusses? How long can I let him sleep? How often must my baby feed during the night?

The answer is simple. Yes. Wake up your baby to feed him, at least until he's about 10 days old.

During the early days of his life, a baby will lose up to 10 percent of his birth weight. Most babies regain this lost weight by about 10 days of age. Some babies may regain this weight sooner, in particular, if babies are bottle-fed, rather than breast-fed.

There are two major criteria to consider when deciding whether or not to wake your baby for night feedings. You want to ascertain that your baby has regained his lost weight, and you want to see him demonstrating a steady weight gain of 1 ounce every day. Until this time, you should wake him to feed every two-four hours. Premature babies require more frequent feedings, most of the time, and they will need to be on this accelerated schedule for a longer duration. You should consult with your doctor for a premature baby's readiness to forgo night feedings.

Birth Trauma

When your baby sleeps through feedings it may appear that he is ready to do without night feedings. But this willingness to sleep through the night may be only a reflection of his having just gone through the trauma of birth. It is usual for a baby to seem sleepy during the early days of his life. After a few days or weeks, a baby will often seem to have arrived at a sudden alertness. This may manifest through crying spells and you may wonder if your baby is ill when in fact his crying shows that he is coming alive to his full consciousness after the birth trauma.

Once your baby reaches the milestone of having regained his lost birth weight and is gaining at the usual rate of one ounce daily, you will find that he wakens and cries when he needs to be fed, every four to six hours, depending on his age and size.