How many hours can a baby sleep without feeding? Feeding frequency can be very confusing given the many conflicting pieces of advice. While some sources will say babies can sleep through the night by 8 weeks old, others will say once your baby doubles their birth weight. This post will discuss this topic so you can make the best decision for your baby and your family.
But before getting to the main point, let’s have a look at some basics about baby’s sleep and feeding:
Basics About Baby Sleep and Feeding
When your baby is a newborn, the most generalized feeding advice is to feed your baby 10-12 times a day. In other words, you should feed your baby once every two or three hours.
Over time, babies will start to give you signals of hunger or full.
For example, at one point you might see your baby nurse for short periods or fall back to sleep in the middle of a meal indicating they are finished. On the other hand, if they are awake, they might signal to you they are hungry by opening their mouth or getting excited when they see a bottle. Remember, if they are crying, this is usually the last clue!
Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, once they regain their birth weight, you do NOT need to wake up the baby for feeding while they are sleeping.
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How to Help Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night Without Eating
After a certain age, you can expect your baby to sleep through the night without any hunger. But if you don’t find it happening to your baby, here are a few things to follow:
Maintain a Regular Daily and Sleep Routine
As a parent, one of the best things you can do is have a regular bedtime and bedtime routine for your baby. Bringing some structure to your day can help both of you know what to expect. For example, you might start and end your day around the same times every day, have a predictable bath time, or tummy time.
Your routine doesn’t have to be rigid. As your baby gets older, your daily routine, sleep schedule, and bedtime routine will become more and more predictable. But, newborns are naturally irregular so if your baby isn’t on a schedule, yet, have no fear. You have time!
Help The Baby to Differentiate between Day and Night
It’s so important that your baby should learn how to identify day and night. Start helping them in this regard by making their daytime feeding lively and making the nighttime feeding calm and quiet. Be sure to read all about Newborn Day / Night Confusion Explained for more tips.
How Many Hours Babies Can Sleep Without Feeding?
We know that this is the answer you’re looking for and why you landed on this post.
Well, as per research conducted by Susan E.C. Sorensen, a pediatrician from Nevada, babies can sleep for 6 straight hours without waking up for food.
Now, that was the most generalized answer that we can give you. But there are some facts and conditions that you need to keep in mind:
1. Babies can sometimes sleep for 6 hours at a stretch without food, right after they are 6 months old or older. For babies younger than that, the duration would be shorter, of course. For example, babies of an age range of 0-4 weeks can sleep for 4 stretch hours maximum without any essence of food.
2. In the same way, babies older than 6 months of age start to sleep for longer hours without feedings. Over time, mothers can start to wean their babies from feeding in the middle of the night.
3. Having said all of that, babies are still all very unique from one another. The number of hours of sleep and feeding frequency can vary from baby to baby.
Some babies grow fast, and they need to be fed more often than what the theory says. On the other hand, some babies lag behind and require less food in a less frequent manner. If you’re not certain whether your baby’s growth rate is perfect or not, consult an expert before making any crucial decisions.
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When and Why to Wake Newborns for Feeding?
We spend a lot of time getting newborns to sleep at night. But, there are occasions we need to wake them up to feed them.
Whether you should wake your baby up for feeding or not depends on the baby’s age, health, and other factors. For simplicity, we will discuss these factors based on your baby’s age:
Case 1: When your baby is 0-4 Weeks old
As you know, newborns are likely to lose some weight right after birth. Within two or three weeks after birth, babies start to regain weight. And, until that point, you need to feed your baby on a frequent basis, even if the baby’s sleeping when it’s mealtime. At this stage, babies can sleep for up to 4 hours at a stretch.
Case 2: When your baby is 4-12 Weeks old
The second case is when your baby is on a regular growth rate, and starting to put on weight on a regular basis.
During this stage, you can let your baby sleep as long as they can. Waiting for them to wake up for a meal is usually okay at this point as long as your doctor hasn’t told you otherwise.
On a side note, you should always keep an eye on the age-weight ratio, and make sure that your baby is meeting milestones. If your baby ever loses weight, be sure to talk to the doctor right away as that’s a common scenario that you will need to wake the baby to feed them.
Case 3: When your baby is 12-24 Weeks Old (or Older)
By the age of 12 weeks old, babies learn to express their hunger through some common ways such as crying.
There are also signs with which you can be informed about it. The most common kind of signs is restlessness, stirring, lip movements, and so on.
At this age range, it’s okay to let your baby sleep for 5-7 hours after a feeding.
It’s hard not to worry about your new baby. After all, you want what’s best for them! Hopefully, we’ve been able to put an end to all of your confusion about how long a baby can sleep without feeding. Good luck with parenting your baby, and your life as a proud parent! If you haven’t already, consider downloading a copy of our e-Book, 15 Baby Sleep Facts New Parents Need to Know.