Should I wake my baby to breastfeed?


Hi mamas! I’m Lacey Parr, a certified lactation educator counselor and mom of 3. One our most commonly asked questions at Lactation Link is whether or not you should wake your baby to feed if they begin to sleep in longer intervals. Mamas and babies need good rest! My hope is that learning when to wake a sleeping baby or when to let them sleep will help bring you some more confidence.

While most babies will need to feed frequently throughout the night for several months, some will begin to sleep longer intervals. It is important to...


Breastfeeding Before Baby Turns 2 Weeks

Newborn sleep is important for baby and for mama… and so is feeding! Before baby regains their birth weight, it is crucial for them to keep feeding frequently. Babies at this age need to be fed around the clock at least every 3 hours (counting from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next) whether formula feeding or breastfeeding. Baby needs all of the nutrients your body has to offer and frequent feeding helps establish good milk supply. While it isn’t really possible to create a sleep schedule during this time, focusing on and could help with newborn sleep in addition to deep sleep for mama. 

A newborn baby’s stomach can only hold a few teaspoons of breastmilk and must eat frequently to satisfy their hunger. The best part? Breastmilk makes for a sleepy baby, and therefore a happy mama! This time is also crucial in establishing your milk supply, so frequent breastfeeding is key. Keep feeding on baby’s hunger cues (crying baby), whenever they are, and throughout the night between baby sleep. Just know that during this time, you will have a lot of feedings, and a lot of diaper changes, with little sleep. But, it’s exactly what baby needs.


Breastfeeding Baby After 2 Weeks

New parents will start to notice a change in sleep patterns. While most babies will need to feed frequently throughout the night for several months, some will begin to sleep longer intervals. After baby regains his/her birth weight (around 10-14 days of life), it is normally safe to allow baby to sleep longer intervals (1). Some moms like to wake at this time to pump or hand express to relieve any pressure they might feel in their breasts. This can be a good time to start saving milk to return to work or school. 

But other moms take this time to get more sleep. Do whatever works for you and your family! If your breasts do feel full and you need to express, but you worry about having to wake up every night to relieve that pressure, know that this will not last forever! Try expressing just long enough to relieve the pressure and your breasts will adjust. Any experiences with this? Share in the comments.

What do I do if my newborn won’t wake up to eat?

If your baby has trouble waking up to breastfeed, know that this is very common in the first 24 hours of life. Try changing baby’s diaper or giving some skin-to-skin. Not only is this good for bonding with your bundle of joy, but it will allow baby to smell your breastmilk and send the signal that it is time to feed. 


Get more breastfeeding wisdom and answers to commonly asked questions with our Confident Breastfeeding Course. Click the image below.


Thanks for stopping by,


Lacey Parr, BS, CLEC


(1) Lauwers, J. & Swisher, A.. (2011). Breastfeeding in the early weeks. Counseling the Nursing Mother (5th ed., pp. 378). Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.