Should I wake my newborn to feed?

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Many new parents have stories of struggling to wake their babies to feed. One first-time mother admitted to playing Mozart for her newborn. Another father of three admitted to turning on the lights in the middle of the night. These parents were all driven by an innate fear for their children’s survival. They are driven by the question should I wake my newborn to feed?

As one mother put it, “Each time I thought, should I wake my newborn to feed, I was scared out of my wits. I didn’t want my baby to starve to death.”

Newborn feeding patterns: Should I wake my newborn to feed?

If you are wondering should I wake my newborn to feed, then you may be feeling confused about healthy sleeping and feeding patterns of newborns.

Amidst all the exhaustion and tiredness, new parents might wonder if they are doing the right thing by letting the baby sleep too long or disrupting the baby’s sleep. They understand that a baby loses weight in the course of the first few days after birth and that it is necessary to feed the baby frequently—that is, until a weight-gain pattern has been established by the newborn.

Most experts advise that mothers feed on demand. Postpone all sleep training until the baby has reached or exceeded the birth-weight milestone.

How to help the baby adjust

Babies have little or no idea of day and night. In the first few days of birth, newborns spend most of their time eating and sleeping.
However, parents can teach their babies the difference between nighttime and daytime.

“Try playing with the baby during the day. Establish a quiet bedtime routine at night; one that is free from visual or ocular stimulation,” says Dorothy Isiguzo, Pediatrician at the Federal Teaching Hospital Enugu. Dr. Isiguzo spoke concerning the question should I wake my newborn to feed.

Encourage your baby to feed frequently before bedtime. When babies go to bed on full stomachs, they are less likely to wake up frequently to feed at night.

should i wake my newborn to feed

How to regulate nightly interactions with your baby

Once your baby reaches the weight-gain milestone, it is advisable to limit nighttime interactions with your baby. The idea is to help the baby develop independence.

Newborns sleep deeply if they are well-fed and dry

“Babies are creatures of habit,” says Dr Tari Fafunwa, Child Psychologist at the Edo General Hospital in Benin. “Give every form of comfort necessary. But do so in moderation. Feed your baby and cradle them a bit. But allow them to lull themselves to sleep.”

Have faith in your baby’s ability to slow down after sunset so that their brains can begin to get ready for bedtime. With time, you will notice that your baby will demand less interaction at night and you won’t have to ask the question, “should I wake my newborn to feed at night?”

You can help your baby sleep at night

If your baby is always in the habit of sleeping throughout the day and staying awake at night, you are not alone. Many parents agonize over the trouble of having to spend long sleepless nights with nocturnal newborns. Here are a few tips to help your baby sleep well at night.

1. Incorporate daytime interactions into your daily routine
Despite your busy schedule, find time to stimulate your baby’s brains through talking, playing and singing. After two hour naps, you should wake your newborn to feed. When your baby stays awake sufficiently during the day, he/she is likely to sleep well at night. If your newborn spends the whole day resting and sleeping, he/she will be wide awake at night.

2. Employ effective comforting techniques
Many parents don’t know that comforting techniques work for babies, too. Switch off the lights, give your baby a mild massage and sing some lullabies. Limit your time to fifteen minutes. These soothing activities can help your baby fall asleep. But you must establish strict guidelines for these else your baby might insist that you sing all through the night.

Consistency is important

Sleep experts often talk about the importance of maintaining a healthy sleep pattern. “Go to bed at a specified and wake up at a specified time and your body will build its own internal alarm clock. It works for babies too,” says Dr. Debbie Ake, a sleep expert at the Abuja Medical Center.

Be consistent when helping your newborn create a healthy sleeping and feeding pattern. If you have to make small adjustments to their sleep and feeding habits, start early enough so that you won’t have to ask questions like, should I wake my newborn to feed at night? You and your baby need to be sound asleep at night, so be consistent in helping your newborn establish a healthy sleep pattern.

If your baby has special needs, say, for instance, your baby was born prematurely or your baby has a developmental disorder, the rules might differ. It is appropriate for you to be asking your obstetrician that all-important question, should I wake my newborn to feed. Get expert advice and use the tips in this article to ensure your children are healthy enough for sleep training.

Resource: Standfordchildrens .org

Also Read: 3 times when it is OK to stop breastfeeding

Written by

Julie Adeboye