Becoming a parent is an overwhelming experience especially for new parents.
They get to be overcautious and overreact over everything that concerns their newborn.
No matter how anticipating parents read books on parenting or consult their family members for advice, there’s always some doubt in their mind.
Feeding the infant is always one of the important concerns as some babies easily latch on the breasts and suckle while others have difficulty doing it and sort of need to be trained.
Usually, doctors suggest that a newborn should be fed between two hours or similarly after every two hours or so.
However, some may wake up and start crying when they are hungry but some do not.
By 4 months, most babies begin to show some preferences to longer sleep especially at night and by 6 months, many babies can go for 5 – 6 hours or even more without the need to feed and will begin to sleep through the night.
Most babies born full-term and are healthy can go through the night without feeding by about 6 months.
It’s said by the pediatrics experts that at this age, most of the babies can sleep comfortably for at least 6 hours without waking up to eat.
Although you may not mind waking up at night to feed the baby because they are a half-year-old, it’s a great idea to wean them off nighttime feedings around the 6th month or half-year marker.
Baby’s feeding frequency
Feeding frequency has been a point of debate among parents and even among child health experts and pediatric experts.
Newborn babies need to be fed around 10-12 times a day or at least once every two-three hours a day. As overtime, babies tend to give signals for hunger and you’ll need to nurse for short periods or to get back to sleep in the middle of the meal.
Parents need to interpret this signal right so that they do not wake babies up while they are asleep let’s say you are feeding them and then they fall asleep amid meal. These hunger signals are only generated by babies while they are awake.
Additionally, baby professionals argue that it is not a bad idea if you let your little one learns to put themselves to sleep. That is, by laying them down to sleep when they seem sleepy around the time they clock 8 weeks.
At this age, they will still need to be fed during the night but the ultimate motive is to separate sleep from eating and that way you would have trained your little one that sleep-time is sleep time and not feeding time and that they will not need your breast or feeding bottle to return to a slumber whenever they wake up amid sleep.
There are a few signs that show that your little one is giving up on midnight “snacks” include not nursing for long not finishing the bottle and falling asleep during the feedings.
Should I wake up my newborn baby up to nurse?
Most newborns are very sleepy in the early days or weeks and may not exhibit hunger cues more often.
Newborns should be nursed every time they exhibit hunger cues but it is recommended that it is done every two hours during the day and at least once during the night.
Once your baby has gained a good weight at least four ounces a week especially for those below 4 months, you can now stop waking baby to nurse or do it irregularly alternatively let them set their pattern.
It is recommended that you wake your baby (if they are less than a month old) at least every 4-5 hours at night for nursing if they do not wake up on their own.
If they’re older than a month, you can allow them to sleep as long as he is peeing, pooping and gaining weight within normal parameters.
How to train your baby to sleep through the night without feeding
Just as discussed above, your baby tends to sleep through the night or spend the night without going hungry therefore fail to feed.
This is mostly at the age of 6 months, in the case that your baby clocks this estimated age of spending the night without feeding and yet you do not find it happening, here are some tips to follow:
1). Maintain a regular sleeping cycle
As a parent, one of your greatest and frontier duties is to establish a regular sleeping routine for your baby which is simple and regular.
This can be achieved by regulating the bath time, putting on new dresses, helping them walk and singing them a lullaby to lull them to sleep.
2). Help them know the difference between day and night
It is vital to let your baby know the difference between day and night. This can be achieved by making their daytime feeding lively and making the night time feeding calm and quiet.
Similarly, you can keep the babies awake for more hours during the day so they feel like sleeping at night, allow them to do all the baby stuff “let them be” so that by night they will be tired and would easily sleep.
You can also use toys, smooth music to help soothe them to sleep and you can also read them stories.
3). Wake your baby up before you go down
Just before you are ready to turn in for the night, trying topping your baby off with a late-night nibble even if he or she is too sleepy to eat too much.
A few sips moment before they close their eyes might be enough to give all of you an extra hour or two of sleep.
If your baby dozes off before they have taken in a decent amount of milk, then you need to wake them up or make them burp and offer them another shot of feed.
They will then likely fill up before they turn in and you will have a better chance of your baby sleeping through the night.
4). Avoid changing your baby’s diaper in the middle of the night
Unless they are an absolute mess, then does not attempt to change their diapers in the middle of the night as this will wake them up and then it would another thing to get them to sleep.
If you must do a diaper change at night probably because they are messy, then do it in a dimmed light setting with limited talking and interaction as possible.
This then will give them the impression that it is no time to wake and be noisy.
5). Keep the calories coming during the day
Your baby will be less hungry at night and therefore be able to sleep through the night if he feeds right during the day.
You can also try to nursing or feeding a bit longer or adding an ounce or two in his bottle during these feeding times during the day.
6). Don’t rush to feed your baby at night
When your kid wakes up crying, do not rush to offer them a breast or a bottle to feed them just wait before you do that.
They might go back to sleep while entertaining themselves maybe by sucking on their fingers for a while.
If she starts protesting loudly, then you can sooth them with a quiet song or gently caress them.
The sooner you teach her that night feedings are not a guarantee of instant feedings the more likely they will be able to sleep through the night.
7). Shorten night time feedings
Another way to win your baby’s feeding during the night is to gradually put a little less in her bottle or spend a couple of minutes less on each breast during her night waking.
Keep decreasing the amount of milk over a week or so until your baby is ready to give up this meal.
How many hours can babies sleep without feeding?
As per the research conducted by Susan E.C Sorensen, a Pediatrician from Nevada, babies can sleep for 6 hours straight without waking up for feeding.
Now, here are some facts and conditions that you need to have at the back of your mind:
Babies can sleep for 6 hours at a stretch without feeding right after they are 6 months old or higher. Babies of the younger age tend to have a shorter duration take for example babies of an age range of 0-4 weeks can sleep for 4 hours straight at maximum without any need of feeding.
Babies older than 6 months start to sleep for longer hours without the need for feeding, as discussed earlier, mothers can start weaning their babies from feeding mid asleep.
That said, babies are different from one another and the feeding and sleep frequency may vary from one baby to another.
So, if you are not certain of your baby’s growth rate, it is highly recommended that you consult a baby health expert before you make a drastic decision as some babies grow fast and therefore need to be fed more and some lag behind in growth and therefore need less food in a less frequency.
When and why to wake newborns for feeding?
This all depends on the age of the baby as discussed earlier.
Younger babies require regular feeding until they’re about 6 months old whereby they require a lesser amount of feeding but all this varies from baby to baby.
To make it understandable, we are going to talk about it based on the baby’s age;
Case 1: When the baby is 0-4 weeks old
Since it’s likely for the newborns to lose their weight (some) right after birth and within two to three weeks after birth, babies are likely to start gaining weight.
So until they start to regain their weight, you need to feed your baby on frequent basis even if they are sleeping and it is meal time.
At this age, babies can sleep for 4 straight hours.
Case 2: When the baby is 4-12 weeks
At this age, the baby is on a regular growth rate and has started to put on weight regularly.
At this age, you can let your baby sleep as long as it can and it is perfectly okay to wake them up for a meal at this point in age.
Make sure you keep the age-weight ratio on a check to ensure that your baby is meeting the milestones.
Case 3: When the baby is 12-24 weeks
At this point, babies learn to express their hunger through some common ways such as crying. The most common signs include restlessness, stirring, lip movements, etc.
At this age, it is okay to let your baby sleep for 5-7 hours after feeding.
Back to the case on infants as most parents find it hard and confusing on the matter about how long they need to let their newborn sleep at night after feeding.
So infants are notorious for eating often sometimes every couple of hours.
Although there is no exact science on how often infants are to be fed and as experts argue that it’s recommended that the infant feeding should be based on the demand for feeding than sticking to a feeding schedule.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a newborn who is nursing should eat about 8-12 times a day just as stated earlier in the brief: every 24 hours for 10-15 minutes or so on each breast.
Infants feeding on formula may feed less often because of the reason that formula takes longer time to get digested compared to breast milk.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also says that a well-nourished breastfed infant should have about 4 to 6 wet diapers or 6 to 8 cloth diapers or napkins and 3-4 poopy diapers for 24 hours.
If your infant is growing steadily in weight and seems content and satisfied after feeding, it is a sign that they are probably eating enough.
If your infant meets these criteria, keep doing whatever you are doing, while on the other hand if your infant falls short in any of the aforementioned areas, you may want to do more work to get them there.
Though, in many cases when hunger strikes, the sleepy baby will likely wake up willingly.
As your baby grows, he or she will sleep longer and longer overnight and become more of a day time-eater.