Your little one knows best when the belly is ready for something to eat. If it is your first baby, you are still trying to figure out the hunger cues as well as follow a feeding schedule. But what do you do if your baby is sleeping and it is typically time to feed?
On average, an infant needs about nine to eleven hours of sleep during the night. Newborns can spend about 16 hours of their day with their eyes closed and only wake for feeding time.
By the time that your baby is about 6-8 weeks old, they can acclimate better to a sleep schedule. While they may not be ready to sleep through the night, it is a good start to a full night's sleep for you and your baby.
Whether you are nursing or bottle feeding, it is easier for you to understand these hunger cues when you feed at regular intervals. This means that for the first six months, your baby could comfortably eat about every 2½ hours. Signals such as lip smacking, rooting, or sucking on anything in reach are related more to hunger than any other basic need your baby has.
During the first four weeks, you should feed your baby in the middle of the night even if you have to wake your little one every 4-5 hours. If your baby is getting used to the schedule, it may not be as much of an issue. They are still trying to figure out how things worked and may not show those hunger cues that are more developed later in infancy. After the first month, you can allow your baby to sleep as long as they need to. If your baby is starting to show that they are not growing as much (pee and poop are two indicators as well as normal weight gain), then you may have to either increase ounces during regular feedings or speak with your pediatricians about options.
As your baby gets older, your baby may sleep late into a feeding or through the entire feeding time. Since they are growing and developing in spurts, there will be times that they will wake for a feeding with tears and cries. Other times, it will not be as important. As long as your little one is getting enough nutrition and filling at least 6 diapers a day, you have little to be concerned about.