You may have heard the phrase “never wake a sleeping baby.” But depending on baby’s age, weight, and overall health, this isn’t always true! Baby may need to be woken up to feed in the early months. Learn more about if you should wake your baby to feed them.

Should you wake your baby to feed? Learn when it’s necessary for newborns and preemies. Get tips and advice for healthy feeding routines in the NICU or at home.

  • Newborns may need to be woken up for feedings to gain weight, especially if they were premature, lost weight since birth, or sleep longer than 4 hours at a time.
  • Always consult your baby’s healthcare provider for personalized advice on feeding schedules.
  • Learn your baby’s hunger cues to better understand what their feeding schedule should be.

Mom and dad feeding sleeping baby

Sometimes, baby will need to be woken up for feedings. This is most likely because they need to gain weight, which can be done by feeding more frequently. Always ask your baby’s healthcare provider what they recommend for them, because every baby is different.

It may be recommended that you wake a newborn baby for feedings if:

  • They’ve lost weight since birth. This is very typical! Most babies lose some of the fluid they’re born with right after birth.
  • They sleep longer than 4 hours at a time.
  • They were born premature.

If baby has lost weight since birth:

It’s typical for newborns to lose weight in the first few days after birth. To help gain weight, it may be recommended that you wake baby up to feed them at regular intervals for the first couple of weeks (for example, every four hours).

If baby sleeps for long stretches:

Baby needs a lot of sleep in the early months—up to 18 hours a day! Some babies will wake every few hours because they’re hungry, while others may sleep for longer stretches of time.

If baby is sleeping for longer than 4 hours at a time, they may need to be woken up to ensure they get enough feeding time in the early months.

If baby is premature:

Premature babies may have special needs when it comes to feeding. Work with baby’s healthcare provider to find out how to make sure baby is getting enough to eat. They may recommend waking baby up while they are sleeping to feed them, because premature babies are often underweight shortly after birth.

Feeding baby inforgraphic

When should you stop waking baby up to feed them?

This is another decision to make with baby’s healthcare provider. But typically, once baby has gained weight and reached a typical weight for their age, then you can stop waking baby up to feed them.

Learning baby’s sleeping and feeding routine can be hard!

If you have any questions about if you should wake baby to feed them, talk to baby’s healthcare provider. You can also learn more about baby’s hunger cues, to know when they’re hungry.

Learn more about baby’s development every day.

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