Do I really need to wake a sleeping newborn to feed them? I have a friend with a newborn who wakes him every two to three hours to feed: Is this necessary? The internet has mixed responses but generally says yes, varying from two to three hours to up to five. I’d prefer to let my child sleep until they are hungry and wake themselves up. I’m expecting a baby in May, so not sure what to do here. Appreciate any data!—Liz
To answer this, it’s worth starting with why waking them to feed would be recommended. The worry is that if you did not, your baby wouldn’t get enough food. If a newborn is struggling to gain weight, going too long between feedings may make the problem worse.
For this reason, in the very beginning of their life, before a baby has gained back their birth weight, there is sometimes a recommendation to wake them to eat, just to make sure they start to gain. Once weight gain is established, this concern dramatically lessens. In that case, letting them sleep until they wake up can work. Some people suggest waking a baby during the day, to eat more frequently, and then letting them sleep more at night.
This is all really based on some kind of broad understanding of infant needs, but not on data. I looked pretty hard but could find no evidence at all that touched on this specific question. Effectively, all we have is logic.