“Don’t feed a sleeping baby.”
There are a million suggestions that a new mother has to hear about the dos and don’ts of feeding and the baby. But what do you really do if your baby is sleeping and it’s time for his feed? Is it worth waking the baby up for a few minutes of feeding and then struggling to put him back to sleep?
It is heavily recommended that you wake up your baby every 2-3 hours in the daytime and 3-4 hours in the night for his feed for at least the first 2 weeks. But how do you wake a sleeping baby to feed him? Before that, let’s understand why your baby is sleeping so much.
Reasons for a sleepy baby
1. Excessive handling - Babies react to overstimulation by sleeping. If you are picking up your baby too much or there are loud noises or bright lights, your baby will counter it by going back to sleep.
2. Premature birth - Premature babies get tired faster and sleep more
3. Not feeding enough - Babies that do not have enough milk lack the calories required to stay awake and sleep more
4. Jaundice - A jaundiced baby might try to fight it with more sleep
5. Difficult delivery - A baby delivered by forcep/suction delivery usually sleeps a lot more
6. Medical conditions - Infections and other medical conditions makes a baby more sleepy
How to wake up a sleepy baby
It can be very difficult to wake a sleeping baby. Do it wrong and the baby will be too upset to feed. It is very important that you wake your baby gently and correctly.
1. Look for cues like soft movements. If your baby is moving slightly or sucks on his fist, his sleep is getting lighter and it is a good time to try to wake him
2. Squeeze out a drop of milk on your finger and bring it to your baby’s lips to get him to wake up and feed
3. Talk to your baby when he is feeding. Babies wake up and respond to the sound of their mother’s voice
4. Use your free hand to lightly massage your baby’s scalp
5. You could also run a finger lightly up and down your baby’s spine to wake him up
6. Change the way you hold your baby when you feed. Even the slightest movement or change in the way you are holding him will wake up your baby
7. Lift your baby to your face and make eye contact. Talk to him for a few moments this way to wake him up
8. As long as your baby is awake, keep him on the breast he started suckling on. If you see him going back to sleep, switch breasts to get him to wake up again again
9. Put your thumb on the baby’s palm and your index finger on the back on his hand and apply pressure very lightly. Don’t worry, it will not harm your baby but he will wake up.
10. You can also start by bicycling your baby’s legs because this will definitely wake him up.
11. Dimming the lights would also help because bright lights can make your baby want to keep his eyes closed
12. There is a technique called the doll-eye that can help. Remember how as children we had dolls that would open their eyes when you sat them up and keep eyes closed when you put them down? It works the same way. Try lifting the baby from his sleeping position lightly without putting pressure on his waist. It might stimulate the baby to open his eyes.
13. Change his diaper and burp him. Babies hate this, and there’s a very good chance this will wake him up sufficiently to feed.
After the first two weeks, your baby should weigh as much as he did when he was born. You can relax when this weight is reached, and wait to feed him on demand.
Feature Image Source: sleep.org