keeping baby awake during feeds

2 minute read

How to keep your baby awake during feeds

Key points:

  • Why not let them sleep?
  • Finding the right time to feed
  • Keep feeding and sleeping environments separate

In a newborn’s delicate sleep routine, one of the trickiest things to negotiate is keeping them awake during feeds. Here’s why it’s important and how to do it.

Why not let them sleep?

While it’s lovely to watch your baby start to drift off to sleep as they feed, this can cause them to form a feed-to-sleep association – which is a difficult habit to break. Newborns can only handle between 45 and 90 minutes of wakefulness before they need to sleep again, so keeping your baby awake while feeding will help to foster good habits in both areas.

When to feed?

Your baby’s body clock (which signals when to sleep, eat and digest) is still developing during the first six months of their life, so they need some help to get on track. After observing the physical and emotional signs your baby gives off to show they’re hungry or tired, you can follow their cues and feed them when they’re most wakeful. This will be either right after they wake up, or well before the next sleep.

One place to feed, another to sleep

Use the environment to signal to your baby that it’s time to either feed or sleep – not both at once. If you wrap your baby in a warm swaddle and lay them in a dark room to sleep, try the opposite for feeding: sit in a well-lit room and expose their body to cooler air.

Use their senses

Don’t be afraid to introduce some sound and movement to your baby’s feeding routine to keep them alert (without overstimulating them). Try one of these:

    • Burp your baby or change their position while they feed
    • Remove the bottle or gently unlatch them to keep them roused
    • Change their nappy mid-feed
    • Stroke their feet
    • Gently blow air on their cheeks or forehead
    • Sing or speak to your baby while they feed
    • Play some music or make gentle noises
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