When the baby is sleeping, it is better not to wake him up. Every mother knows this simple truth. But some children sleep too soundly and for a long time. This can leave unpleasant health effects in the first few months.
Parents need to understand how long to feed their child at night, whether it is necessary to wake him up, and how to do it less painfully. There is a lot of reasoned evidence that night feedings need to be stopped at a certain period. Let us consider this issue in more detail and determine the most optimal period for completing night feedings.
Who should refuse to wake up for feedings at first?
All children develop individually. They are born with different weights and health. There are general recommendations that should be followed in organizing the nutrition of a child.
You should monitor your weight gain every month. Let everything go on as usual if he is normal. It is worth turning away from night feedings when the weight begins to grow rapidly and it is already visually noticeable that the baby is overeating.
It is recommended to undergo an examination and exclude the presence of diseases that provoke excess weight. You need a diet if everything is in order with your health. Exclusion of overeating and night meals in the first place. It is not recommended to continue feeding at night for children with extensive caries. It is necessary to exclude fatty and dairy foods at night if the baby has problems with digestion.
Why does a child need frequent feedings?
Many neonatologists and pediatricians recommend feeding the child on demand, but with the exposure of a certain time interval. This rule also applies at night. What is the importance of this diet? Here are some examples of reasons:
High need for nutrition
Newborns and infants up to 3 months of age have a vital need for nutrition. The body grows at an unrealistic rate that needs to be supported by the intake of nutrients. There is no such active growth and development in other periods of life after 12 months.
A small volume of the stomach
Babies have small stomachs after birth. It increases with the growth of the baby. The rate of milk eaten at one time remains very low due to low capacity. This provokes constant bouts of hunger in babies. They need to be fed regularly. The child will eat at least every 2-3 hours until the volume of the stomach grows.
Establishment of lactation
Feeding on demand within the accepted intervals of time is important not only for the child but also for the mother. The breast should be filled with milk and the lactation process should be getting better. Moms notice how their breasts begin to throb about every 2 hours for the first few months. This is a signal that it is time to feed.
Maintaining the lactation process is important to observe not only during the day. Prolactin is produced at night. He is responsible for the production of milk. The baby needs to be fed regularly so that there are no lactation crises.
Relationship with mom
Many ordinary people are mistaken in believing that the mother’s breast is just a vessel for food. Breastfeeding maintains the bond between baby and mother. It is very important for the formation of the psychological well-being and health of the baby. The sucking process calms the baby. It is recommended to attach the baby to the body, even if he is bottle-fed. It relieves stress and anxiety in the child.
Maturation of the digestive system
The maturation of the digestive organs occurs due to regular nutrition. The intestines must begin to contract and remove gases on their own. Enzymatic maturity of the pancreas is also important. Digestive problems will not leave the baby without this. It is easier for the body to get used to this system if the child eats according to the schedule. He quickly adapts, adjusts his rhythms, and matures at a faster rate.
How often should you wake up your baby for feedings?
Newborn babies should not eat in a strictly established mode according to the generally accepted rule. Their meals are organized on demand. If the baby cries, he is dry and not sick, then he asks for food. Approximate nutrition intervals in the first 3 months – every 2 hours.
The birth conditions of all babies are different and their health too. The child cannot wake up day and night if there are no problems with lactation and he was born with a normal weight. This is justified only if the baby’s sleep is regular and does not exceed 3-4 hours in a row.
The frequency of feeding increases significantly in a situation of prematurity or severe developmental abnormalities. Sometimes children are not able to eat on their own. Portions of one milk intake are so small that the number of feedings increases to 12 times or more. This is due to the severe weakening of the child’s body.
When is it recommended to stop waking your baby for feedings?
It will not be possible to unequivocally answer the question of at what particular age it is worth giving up feeding at night and deliberately waking up the baby to eat. It all depends on the individual development of the baby. There are several options for stopping night feedings and waking up during the day:
This option is a reference and it is suitable for all kids. Regardless of the birth method, due date, weight, or health status, all babies should eat fairly frequently for the first 3 months of life. Night feedings remain obligatory and it is too early to remove them. The child will be hungry and restless.
This option is more optimal for healthy and well-gaining weight babies. It is suitable for those children who eat well the first complementary foods, mother’s milk or formula.
It is permissible not to wake up for feeding children at 6 months on artificial and mixed nutrition. This food is high in calories and takes a long time to digest. The child retains a sense of satiety longer and can go without food for up to 4 hours. Some children can sleep continuously at night for up to 6 hours.
Complementary foods become more diverse by this time. The child is already eating meat, fish dishes, cereals, butter, eggs, and so on. His energy reserves are increasing. This saturates the body for a longer period. Many mothers stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. You can gradually reduce or completely remove feedings at night from 9 months. Waking up during the day is no longer necessary.
This is the most optimal period until which it is recommended to keep 1 night feeding for now. Milk intake or sweep at night should be removed after the first year of life. It is recommended by pediatricians and dentists. Particles of milk or artificial food remaining in the mouth can be bad for dental health.
The best option for avoiding awakenings for feeding
So when to stop waking baby to feed? Pediatric experts say that up to 12 months of feeding at night does not cause any harm to the health and well-being of the child. It is this age that is considered the most optimal for stopping night feedings.
It is not worth waking up a child during the day if he is completely healthy and gaining weight well. There is no need to feed the baby even in the first 3 months of life with a sleep duration of up to 3 hours. Don’t procrastinate with a process that can overgrow into a persistent habit. Children are terrible conservatives. They do not like to change anything, especially if it brings pleasure and comfort.
The main conditions for stopping awakenings for feeding
Determination of the appropriate time to stop night feedings and daytime awakenings are best discussed with the pediatrician individually. Here are examples of the coincidence of ideal conditions for this:
- The baby is growing and developing well.
- He was born on time.
- The child is not underweight.
- There are no internal pathologies of development and congenital defects.
- Enough wet diapers per day.
- The child has stable and uninterrupted sleep.
- The baby is eating well.
- The baby retains breastfeeding, formula, and supplemental foods throughout the day.
- The baby got out of the main teeth by age.
It’s time to stop waking up the baby to feed if he has most of the items from the list.
How do wean a baby from night feedings?
Probably the most difficult thing for a mother is to wean a child from waking up at night. You will have to spend more than one month if it has already become a habit. We offer some simple tips to help you stop feeding your baby at night as painlessly as possible:
Don’t make a fight out of it under any circumstances. The process of stopping night feedings should be gradual, consistent, and smooth. Confrontation and the position: “he will cry and pass away” are inappropriate in this case. The child gets a lot of stress. Find compromise solutions and do everything in stages.
Do not combine with the termination of breastfeeding
It is advisable not to do so that both night feedings and breastfeeding immediately disappear. Enter the mixture and gradually replace it with breastfeeding. After that, you can systematically remove night feedings. Weaning is much more traumatic for the baby than the disappearance of feedings at night.
Hearty meals during the day
The best option is to feed the baby during the day so that he does not want to eat at night. You can give milk porridge 2 hours before bedtime if there is no lactose intolerance. This will prolong the satiety of the baby and he will not wake up for at least 6-8 hours. Put your baby to bed tired and well-fed. His need to wake up will gradually fade away. This is easiest to do if you are no longer breastfeeding.
New complementary foods only in the morning
Mothers often confuse the reasons for the awakening of the baby. By mistake, they always feed him if he gets up at night. The baby can be awakened by strong gases or pain in the epigastrium when new complementary foods are introduced. Give new meals only in the morning to be able to follow the reaction and help get rid of gases before bedtime.
Quench the thirst of the child
The reason for the night awakening of the child may not be hunger but thirst. Try giving your child some water. If he calms down and falls asleep, then he is not hungry. It is best to keep the water warm. It acts more sedative rather than invigorating.
Children do not wake up abruptly and not immediately. If you know your baby is about to wake up, try giving him a bottle of formula before he starts crying. So his sleep will last and the amount of food eaten will be reduced. The bottle can be replaced by stroking and lulling later. The sooner you stop reassuring your baby with food, the sooner he will wean himself from unnecessary feedings.