Should you Wake Your Baby for Feedings?

October 12, 2018
Sometimes it's necessary to wake your baby up to feed him or her. Doing it or not will depend on factors such as age, weight, and overall health.

Should you wake your baby for feedings?

Many parents wonder whether they should their babies up to feed them or not. If you’re a new mother or father, you’ve probably already asked yourself this question many times. You don’t have to feel bad about it since things such as sleeping and eating patterns always worry parents.

Today, there are conflicting views on this matter. On one hand, some argue that babies need to be fed every 2 to 4 hours, even if you have to wake your baby up to do so.

However, in this article, we’ll discuss whether you should wake your baby up for feedings or not.

How Much Sleep do Babies Need?

First of all, you need to know more about healthy sleep habits in infants.  This will help determine whether or not you should wake your baby for feedings or if this affects their development.

a sleeping newborn baby

Infants sleep about 16 hours a day. They usually wake up every 2 or 3 hours to eat, although this isn’t a rule.

In fact, many babies sleep for more than 3 hours at a time. This is normal because all babies are different.

Discover: How to Bathe a Newborn Baby

Baby Sleep: The First Months

During the first two months, sleep depends on the baby’s hunger. After a feeding, the baby goes into light sleep and shouldn’t be woken up.

Light sleep usually lasts 30 to 40 minutes. In fact, you’ll know your baby is in light sleep because they may seem restless, but this is very normal. After this phase, the baby goes into deep sleep.

It’s important to know that babies start sleeping longer through the night when they’re about 4 to 6 months old. Until then, the sleep and wakefulness cycles depend on the circadian rhythms and light or darkness.

In short, infants stabilize their sleeping patterns slowly and their parents will be able to get better rest after that happens.

Feeding Schedule

As mentioned earlier, babies need to be fed about every 3 hours. After this time, babies wake up, cry, get fed, and go back to sleep. Also, keep in mind that crying isn’t always due to hunger.

While the 3-hour period is a reference, it’s only a statistic. Some babies need to be fed more frequently and some babies need to be awakened because they sleep too much.

Did you know? First-Time Mom: Basic Survival Guide

When Should You Wake Your Baby up for Feedings?

mother breastfeeding her baby

If a baby has good sleep habits and has an appropriate weight for their age, then you don’t need to wake them up. However, there are situations that require it and this will depend on the baby’s age, weight, and overall health.

Some newborns lose weight the first few days after being born. This is because they need a few days to master breast or bottle feeding. Also, their stomach can only take a small amount of food per feeding.

As you can see, it’s very important for newborns to eat frequently. Therefore, you may have to wake your baby up a few times a day (especially if your baby is premature).

On the other hand, parents should not be guided solely by the clock or the baby’s cries. Crying is just a late sign that the baby is hungry. If you notice that your baby is restless, moves their lips, and makes sucking motions, chances are you should feed them.

Other Factors You Should Consider

Once the baby has reached optimum weight and is gaining weight, it’s appropriate to wait for your baby to wake up on their own to be fed.

You don’t have to worry about how much your baby eats or how often, but about more important development factors such as:

  • Slow and steady weight gain,
  • Whether or not your baby seems full between feedings,
  • If your baby wets six or more diapers per day,
  • If your baby poops three or more times a day.

You should go see your doctor if you don’t notice any of the above so the specialist can check your baby to see if everything’s alright. Also, your doctor can provide necessary information and answer your questions so you can avoid any risks.

This may interest you: 5 Healthy Breakfasts for Children

baby being bottle fed


In short, unless your baby was born premature, is underweight, or unhealthy, you shouldn’t wake him or her up for feedings. If your little one is healthy and sleeps a lot, don’t worry: let your baby sleep as long as he or she needs.

It’s good to let the baby sleep because this will help them grow physically and develop good sleep habits. Moreover, you can use that time to get some rest or run some errands.